The movie cover for The Chase.
|Directed by||Adam Rifkin|
|Written by||Adam Rifkin|
|Music by||Richard Gibbs|
|Edited by||Peter Schink|
|Distributed by||20th Century Fox|
|Box office||$7.9 million|
The Chase is a 1994 American action comedy film directed by Adam Rifkin and starring Charlie Sheen and Kristy Swanson, depicting a wrongfully-convicted man who kidnaps a wealthy heiress and leads police on a lengthy car chase in an attempt to escape prison. It features Henry Rollins, Josh Mostel, and Ray Wise in supporting roles, with cameo appearances by pornographic film actor Ron Jeremy and Anthony Kiedis and Flea of the rock band Red Hot Chili Peppers.
Jack Hammond stops at a gas station in Newport Beach, California, where he encounters two police officers and a young woman. The officers receive a car radio call that indicates the car Jack is driving is stolen, he panics and kidnaps the woman, holding a candy bar in his pocket such that she believes it is a gun. Fleeing in her car, Jack soon learns that his hostage is Natalie Voss, daughter of a millionaire industrialist. Two police officers pursue them in a squad car with a television crew filming a Cops-style reality show. The car chase moves onto southbound Interstate 5 as Jack decides to flee to Mexico.
The chase intensifies, leading to several chaotic events including a medical truck spilling cadavers onto the freeway and Jack accidentally shooting a police car's tire, causing it to flip and crash. Two bystanders attempt to run Jack off the road in their monster truck, but lose control and roll the truck onto its side, where it is hit by a semi-trailer truck and explodes. The news media further dramatize the car chase, covering it under such headlines as "Terror on the Freeway!" and "Kidnapped at 100 Miles per Hour" and going to such lengths as having a reporter hang out the side of a van alongside the speeding car.
Jack explains to Natalie that, while working as a clown performing at children's birthday parties in Sonoma, he was mistaken for the "red-nosed robber", a criminal who had robbed several banks while wearing a clown costume. A blood test sample improperly collected at one of the crime scenes proved Jack's innocence but its inadmissibility lead to his conviction and sentence the prior day to 25 years' incarceration. During transfer to prison he escapes the guards and steals a car, leading to their present situation. Jack's lawyer explains Jack's predicament to the media and tries to convince him to surrender to the police, but Jack believes escape is his only option.
Natalie sympathizes with Jack, and is impressed when he berates her overbearing father. She shares with him her hate for her stepmother and seeks to escape from her dysfunctional family. As the chase continues, she begins to fall in love with Jack, the two have sex while he drives, and she suggests feigning being his hostage so that they can flee together to Mexico. They reach the San Ysidro Port of Entry and find it heavily blockaded. Jack continues to evade the police but eventually stops, telling Natalie that her life cannot be ruined by him, and releases her reluctantly to her father. After considering going out in a blaze of glory, Jack decides to surrender. As he is being arrested, Natalie takes a television producer hostage at gunpoint and releases Jack. The two steal a news helicopter and escape to Mexico, where they relax in freedom on a beach.
The film earned mostly negative reviews from critics, holding a 37% rating on Rotten Tomatoes based on 19 reviews.
Chicago Sun-Times critic Roger Ebert wrote at the time: "'The Chase,' a movie named with unerring accuracy, takes place mostly in a car on a California freeway, where love blooms during a high-speed police pursuit. Once you grasp that premise, you know where the movie's going and more or less everything that is going to happen in it, so the surprise is that 'The Chase' does such a good job within its limited range." Ebert gave the film two-and-a-half stars.
Critic James Berardinelli, who also gave the movie two-and-a-half stars out of four, said: "As an example of modern cinematic art, The Chase is an utter failure. As a character study, it can't get past the comic book stage. As a tightly-plotted thriller, it's missing about half the storyline. But, as a piece of unfettered, unpretentious entertainment, it hits the bullseye."
Both Ebert and Berardinelli gave particular attention and praise to the movie's criticism of the television news industry (reporters for various networks covering the chase/hostage situation perform absurd, even dangerous, stunts in order to one-up each other in pursuit of a better 'exclusive', and the networks, rather than cover the story in a professional manner, add taglines to the story like "TERROR ON THE FREEWAY" in an obvious effort to bolster ratings.)
It has not been confirmed that an official soundtrack was released, but this is the movie's music listing: