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Friday, September 3, 1999
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Volume 65, Issue 10

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The big Chill

Gooding and Ulrich work well, but fail to save Chill Factor


Chill Factor

Starring: Cuba Gooding Jr., Skeet Ulrich, Peter Firth
Running Time: 110
Rating: R

Grade: C -


By Rattaya Nimibutr
Daily Cougar Staff 

There are two things that should be mentioned before the review of this action/thriller begins. 

First, the match of Cuba Gooding Jr. (What Dreams May Come ) and Skeet Ulrich (The Newton Boys ): The pairing is, at first glance, a bit odd. Gooding is known mainly in supporting comedic roles, while Ulrich is simply your typical on-screen bad boy.

Second, there's the casting of these two in an action-packed film involving car chases and explosions. The duo makes a go at it in Chill Factor and the results are surprising: The pairing works, and the movie isn't as pointless as it looks.

The storyline first introduces us to a scientist (David Paymer) who specializes in explosives. He makes a major mistake with a bomb and kills a troop whose commanding general (Peter Firth) bears all the fault for the incident.

The general serves 10 years in prison building up hatred and murder plans directed at his scientist friend, all the while planning to seize the other bomb the scientist created. But it isn't that simple.

Paymer's character, the general's bait, has retired to a small town where he meets Ulrich, a young rebel who works in a café. They become friends, and the paranoid scientist decides to hand the existing bomb to Ulrich to avoid having it fall into the general's hands. He tells Ulrich to deliver it to the next town, keeping it stored at less than 50 degrees or it will explode.

This is when Gooding comes in. Just as the scientist hands the bomb over to Ulrich, Gooding, an ice-cream delivery man, happens to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. His truck is the perfect spot for them to store the bomb so that it can remain chilled.

The action sequences begin while Gooding and Ulrich try to deliver the bomb, at the same time running from the general.

Chill Factor eventually comes off as a sophomoric version of Speed. It's adrenaline-pumping, fast-paced and funny when it tries to be.

Gooding's character is wasted. He basically serves two purposes: to deliver punch lines and drive the ice-cream truck.

Ulrich, crossing over as the good boy this time, offers a little more jumping from here to there. Both of these actors may be advertised as the main attraction of this film, but the real stars are the occasional explosions and the visually impressive car chases.

Firth (Mighty Joe Young) unconvincingly portrays the obsessed general in pursuit of the duo. Though his voice is supposed to be one of those threatening, I'm-in-charge voices, it doesn't sound intimidating. Rather, it comes off more like a dull narration in a horror movie.

This isn't one of those really hyped-up action movies that will make you sit on the edge of your seat. The story is fun to follow, but falls short of the hard-hitting excitement advertised in the trailers.

Chill Factor confirms that Gooding should stay away from action films and stick with dramas and other flicks that require "real" acting. He also should think about returning to the comedy genre, which seems to better fit his style.

Ulrich fits in with the style of this flick, but it doesn't showcase his acting abilities. Chill Factor only shows how much he and Gooding can bicker and what stunts they can pull.

Chill Factor can be written off as yet another action clone, but it is a fun movie to watch. It may start off a little slowly, but it builds to a rapid pace in the end. 

If you run out of movies and need something to do over the weekend, give Chill Factor a chance. If nothing else, it's entertaining.
 

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