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Chill Factor

"Chill Factor" on DVD

Ordinary Heroes to the Rescue

Cuba Gooding Jr. and Skeet Ulrich play a couple of extremely average guys thrust into the role of heroes in this action comedy/buddy flick from directory Hugh Johnson.

"Chill Factor" is about a superbomb that nearly falls into the wrong hands. The weapon, code named "Elvis," is "the mother of all defoliants" and is being developed at a secret installation in Montana. The catch with "Elvis" is that you have to keep it cool or it'll go off so, as with the 50 mph bus in "Speed," the movie is a race to get "Elvis" to safety before its temperature reaches 50 degrees Fahrenheit.

The film opens with a test of an early version of "Elvis," a test that goes horribly amuck and ends up killing 18 American soldiers and virtually destroying the tropical island on which is was conducted. The aftermath saw the military officer assigned to the project (Peter Firth) made the scapegoat and sent to Leavenworth.

Flash forward to his release and, not surprisingly, he's now twisted and looking for revenge. He hatches a plot to steal "Elvis" and auction it off to the highest bidder and with his band of paramilitary henchpeople breaks into the Montana establishment.

Fortunately, the doctor in charge (David Paymer) manages to escape with "Elvis" and, bleeding to death, seeks out his friend Tim (Ulrich) and begs him to get the weapon to safety. Tim's a night shift cafe clerk who used to be in trouble but who now is merely marking time in his life. Arlo (Gooding Jr.) appears to be an ice cream salesman making a delivery and Tim forces him at gunpoint to take him and "Elvis" in his refrigerated truck to another Montana military base to turn the bomb over to the authorities.

The movie is basically a chase, as the bad guys head after the loveable Tim and Arlo as they sally forth through Montana (though the film was shot in some beautiful Utah locations) toward safety.

There are vehicle crashes, wild rides, fights, gunfire, rockets, helicopters, and some neat special effects as "Chill Factor" unfolds and on the whole it's a pretty good example of the action/comedy species. The villian is mean and menacing, but screen writers Drew Gitlin and Mike Cheda have also given him a human side: the guy's committed to his course of action, but never forgets his more rational and reasonable roots. This kind of takes the edge off of him, though, and makes you wonder why if he's such a decent guy at heart he can go through with his nefarious scheme.

Still, it's only a movie and despite a couple of plot holes big enough for an ice cream truck to drive through, "Chill Factor" works for the most part.

Ulrich and Gooding, Jr. are both likeable in their buddy roles and it isn't hard rooting for them. The supporting cast is good as well, and the locations are spectacular.

The DVD is in widescreen (2.35:1) with Dolby Digital 5.1 audio digitally mastered for home theaters. The audio is terrific and the video quality is first rate as well.

Extras include a good behind the scenes section on the film's digital visual effects sequences, a/v production notes, cast/crew bios and filmographies, and 13 (count 'em) trailers. There's also a PC Friendly DVD-ROM component that includes a game that lets you see an alternate ending (we won't spoil it for you).

"Chill Factor" is pretty lightweight, but it doesn't really claim to be anything else, and that's okay with us.

Chill Factor, from Warner Home Video
102 minutes, Widescreen (2.35:1), Dolby Digital
Starring Cuba Gooding, Jr., Skeet Ulrich, Peter Firth, David Paymer,
Produced by James G. Robinson, Screenplay by Drew Gitlin & Mike Cheda
Directed by Hugh Johnson


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Updated May 13, 2006