Film review: Chase, The

Published: Tuesday, March 8 1994 12:00 a.m. MST

There's a scene early in "The Chase" where Kristy Swanson leans out a car window and vomits all over the windshield of the police car behind her. It was at this moment that I realized "The Chase" was not going to be funny or exciting or in the least bit engaging.

As difficult as it is sometimes, I do make an effort to refrain from prejudging a movie by its cast, plot synopsis or 30-second television ads. But sometimes it's obvious in a movie's early moments that it's bad and it's not going to get better.

"The Chase" did not get better.

The minimal storyline has Charlie Sheen as a convicted criminal who escapes his captors on the day he is sentenced. He steals a car and on his way out of town he stops at a convenience store. There, Sheen is spotted by a pair of cops, so he takes customer Kristy Swanson hostage and steals her BMW.

What he doesn't know is that her father (Ray Wise) is "The Donald Trump of Los Angeles," a bombastic wealthy businessman who will use his overbearing personality to intimidate the wimpy L.A. police chief with unreasonable demands.

Meanwhile, cop cars line up behind Sheen and Swanson as they speed down the freeway, headed toward Mexico. And, of course, they overcome their initial fear and anger toward each other to become lovers. Then, unhappy rich kid Swanson offers to go into cahoots with Sheen to get a ransom from her father so they can live happily ever after south of the border.

Meanwhile, tabloid television news programs are following the chase with helicopters and mini-vans, hoping for an interview, footage of the chase — or even better, a shootout.

Some of the ideas here are amusing — especially the TV news spoofs — but the execution is as lame as the one-liners Sheen and Swanson are forced to spout. And their characters are cartoonish stereotypes.

Maybe that's because filmmaker Adam Rifkin ("The Dark Backward") was originally a cartoonist. If he had come from a music video background, "The Chase" couldn't be any more busy and annoying. His irritating use of extreme closeups, as if he didn't really expect the movie to be shown in theaters, and the MTV style of editing is enough to make one yearn for the "Smokey and the Bandit" or "Cannonball Run" movies.

The stars are sleepy, to say the least, walking through the picture with very little emotion — but it doesn't matter since the emphasis here is clearly on chases, crashes and explosions.

"The Chase" runs out of gas long before it's over — and the ending hasechoes . . . are you ready? . . . of Emilio Estevez's "Wisdom." Trust me, that's not a compliment.

The film is rated PG-13 for considerable violence and profanity, as well as a ridiculous sex scene. And we won't even go into the wrong-headed kidnapping-can-be-fun plotting here.