Call this “The Getaway Lite.” Despite considerable energy and occasional laughs, this latest effort from youthful writer/director Adam Rifkin too often feels like it was written by Beavis and Butt-Head and, as a result, should have difficulty catching up with moviegoers, except perhaps along the shoulder of the MTV crowd.
Presented virtually in real time, the story shifts into gear immediately, as an escaped convict (Charlie Sheen) kidnaps the heiress to a Donald Trump-type fortune (Kristy Swanson) in a convenience store and takes off for Mexico in her shiny red BMW.
Virtually the rest of the action, believe it or not, has them in that car, as the two build a grudging relationship, with the police — as well as local TV stations — in hot pursuit.
Rifkin takes refuge from that claustrophobia sparingly, cutting back and forth to a police car occupied by two officers involved in the chase, a “Cops”-style film crew and, most effectively, the various media vultures trying to cash in on the story.
The opening chase sequence, with its jerky, dizzying editing techniques, feels like a fun-house ride with no exit or — with its pounding score — the worst heavy-metal video imagineable.
“The Chase” briefly appears to right itself, offering some surprisingly big, if lowbrow, laughs — one involving carsickness, the other a truckful of medical cadavers.
Rifkin exhibits some wit in his clever skewering of TV news, with stations here engaged in an escalating contest to one-up each other with the biggest “live” broadcast coup, often speculating wildly — and wrongly — about what’s happening. (That local L.A. on-air talent Bree Walker and Paul Dandridge participate adds to the sense that the idiocy being lampooned isn’t all that far-fetched.)
For the most part, however, “The Chase” goes nowhere, wearing out its welcome with musicvideo techniques and an equally repetitive, percussive score that will put off those who don’t own a Metallica T-shirt.
Playing up its sense of teenage rebellion, Jack (Sheen), a nice guy who was wrongly convicted, wins Natalie (Swanson) over in part by telling off her dad (Ray Wise) and the authorities.
While adorable, Swanson doesn’t benefit from the whining Valley girl aspects of her role, which could easily be characterized as “Buffy, the Hostage.” On the flip side, Sheen continues to strike the same sullen, Jack Nicholson-wannabe pose he’s employed with varying degrees of success — and sporadic, self-effacing charm — in “Navy SEALs,” the “Hot Shots!” movies and “Major League.”
Considering the level of high-speed carnage, tech credits are generally subpar, with the exception of the dead-on news parodies. As a closing-credit outtake featuring Sheen (who also exec produced) indicates, this is one of those projects where everyone seemed to have a better time making it than the audience will watching it.