Posted on December 13, 2002 at 5:16 am
This movie should come in a white box with a generic label — it is all concept and explosions, with nothing worthwhile in its plot, character, or dialogue.
The concept is this: a scientist (David Paymer) working for the defense department doesn’t realize how potent his new chemical weapon is until it kills eighteen soldiers. The scientist is not punished because he is too important to the Defense Department. But DOD needs a fall guy, so they frame the highest ranking officer involved (Peter Firth) into prison for ten long years. Since he was not a team player to begin with and tried to stop detonation of the device in the first place, he spends the ten years getting angrier and angrier and leaves with the intention of stealing this weapon and selling it to terrorists.
Here is where it gets cute: the weapon is nicknamed “Elvis” (only because it is such a neat set-up for a concerned DOD officer to say that “Elvis has left the building”). And it detonates if it gets over 50 degrees in temperature. And it is now much, much more powerful so that if it is detonated it will wipe out thousands of people.
The scientist, mortally wounded, just has time to explain this to his fishing buddy, sometime drifter Skeet Ulrich, before dying. Fortunately, an ice cream delivery man has just arrived, so they pop Elvis in the freezer and take off for the nearest Army base, Firth hot on their trail, and the temperature rising.
Audiences are willing to suspend mountains of disbelief if the characters are interesting. Ulrich and Gooding try hard, but the dialogue is so stunningly dumb that it is hard to care what happens to them. It all seems like a tired collage of too many bland attempts to re- create “Speed.” Parents should know that there is some strong language and a good deal of cartoon-style violence, but that what is far more likely to be detrimental to kids is the overall stupidity. I’m just as fond of mindless summer explosion movies as anyone, but this one just isn’t worth it, even at the 99 cent matinee.