Chill Factor

on September 03, 1999 by Kristan Ginther
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   "Oh sh**!" In "Chill Factor," this is the trademark catchphrase of Arlo (Cuba Gooding, Jr.), and it is also what Gooding must be thinking after starring in this flaccid action picture.
   Dr. Richard Long (David Paymer), a military scientist, has built a deadly chemical weapon. One of his tests goes terribly awry, but the good doctor doesn't take the fall for his mistake. Instead, Major Andrew Brynner (Peter Firth), the man in charge of the mission, is court-martialed and sent to prison for 10 years. When Brynner's sentence is up, he and his rag-tag group of ne'er-do-wells seek out Dr. Long, bent on revenge and the retrieval of Long's deadly creation. They break into Long's laboratory and fatally wound the doctor. However, before Long dies, he grabs the weapon and gives it to his friend,Tim Mason (Skeet Ulrich), with this warning: If the weapon is exposed to temperatures above 50 degrees, it's doom and destruction for the entire nation. Mason must get the weapon to the authorities, so he hijacks an ice cream truck driven by Arlo, and the two are off on a dangerous adventure with Brynner in hot pursuit.
   It's easy to understand why "Chill Factor" was made in that its premise is highly pitchable--it's "Broken Arrow" meets "Speed." However, "Speed 2" already proved that we don't need to see either of those movies again. Worse, and not surprising given its unabashedly blatant plot theft, "Chill Factor" is not nearly as innovative as the movies it aspires to imitate. While director Hugh Johnson's action sequences are tense and taut, not much care has gone into crafting an actual story to pass the time between the thrills and chases. The script by Drew Gitlin and Mike Cheda is cliched and by-the-numbers; the characters, plot, and dialogue are all borrowed from previous, better action films. And because the actors have little to work with, there is a lot of sneering, swearing, and shameless overacting to compensate. Gooding is just riffing on his wild Pepsi commercial persona, Firth is a poor man's James Woods, and Ulrich is bland. "Chill Factor" leaves you with the cold reality that you've seen it all before. Starring Cuba Gooding Jr., Skeet Ulrich and David Paymer. Directed by Hugh Johnson. Written by Drew Gitlin and Mike Cheda. Produced by James G. Robinson. A Warner Bros. release. Action. Rated R for violence and language. Running time: 100 min
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