Five years after Speed, the train-wreck movie clones just keep on coming. The latest down the pike is Chill Factor, an utterly unmemorable piece of dreck that centers on an explosive substance nearly as toxic as this movie.
Dr. Richard Long (David Paymer) has been developing a secret weapon for the U.S. Government: a deadly, temperature-sensitive, biological/chemical explosive thingy, nicknamed “Elvis”. The specifics are unimportant, and are barely glossed over, but whatever “Elvis” is, it detonates with extremely deadly force if its temperature rises to 50 degrees Fahrenheit.
When a military test goes awry, Captain Andrew Brynner (Peter Firth), the military commander in charge, is sent to prison for losing the lives of several soldiers. Several years later, he emerges an insane man, who somehow has contacts with an elite group of terrorist mercenaries. His motley gang hunts for “Elvis”, and will stop at nothing to get it. Dr. Long has been devoting his energies to “stabilizing” his formula (despite the fact that, from a military point of view, it seems to work perfectly), and tries to keep “Elvis” out of Brynner’s evil hands.
That’s how “Elvis” falls into the hands of Tim Mason (Skeet Ulrich), a short-order cook who happens to be Dr. Long’s fishing buddy. Tim is given the task to transport “Elvis” to a location that’s actually unimportant to the plot. Suffice it to say, he’s always on the move. To accomplish this, Tim enlists the unwilling aid of Arlo (Cuba Gooding Jr.), an ice cream delivery man, whose refrigerated truck is the only thing that keeps “Elvis” from turning Montana into a desolate wasteland.
You can probably sketch out the rest of the story from there. Of course, Tim and Arlo bicker constantly (but, as the formula dictates, develop a bond as the movie rattles along). However, the two never develop any form of comic banter, and almost seem to be acting in different movies.
Cuba Gooding Jr. is needlessly shrill and irritating in his role as Arlo. He desperately needs to tone down his act, but gets no help from the vacant director, Hugh Johnson. It almost seems worth destroying the entire state of Montana, just to get rid of Arlo.
Skeet Ulrich is, thankfully, more subdued (though, it’s unlikely he could have been less). However, the character of Tim Mason is so entirely bland and boring, that even if “Elvis” detonated, no one would know the difference.
The action sequences are at least bright and loud, if pointless. Unfortunately, it’s difficult to find consolation purely in the action sequences, as the so-called comic dialogue frequently interrupts.
Even those desperate for an action fix would be advised to stay outside a 300-mile radius from Chill Factor. If you ignore this warning, the consequences will be very chilling.