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Chill Factor Review

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A convenience store clerk (Ulrich) and ice-cream truck driver (Gooding Jr) must work together to prevent a lethal chemical bomb from reaching more than 50 degrees fahrenheit, at which point, it will explode.

★★★★

From the costume designer of The Abyss (here we go), the editor of The Duellists (oh dear), production designer of Up Close And Personal (does this get any worse?) and Director of Photography from The Quest (yes, then), comes a film so dull that it should have enrolled Richie Rich's teaboy, just to see if he could help out.

Whilst the plot is non-existent, the dialogue frankly beyond the pale and the explosions about as rousing as an indoor firework, not even any of these woeful genre inadequacies are the film's most fatal flaw; for the honours here land squarely on the shoulders of a central pairing that never once convinces - however much they try to backslap, and "Yeeha!" their way around the fact.

Perhaps this is due to Cuba "I won an Oscar once, you know" Gooding Jr. somehow managing to look markedly out of place, as the good-at-heart soul with a "bad rep"; or instead, because Skeet Ulrich (maybe sensing his "up and coming" standing sliding further into the ether) delivers a limp performance that falls far below his Scream par. Either way, it is a problem, and one from which the whole farrago never recovers.

Considering also his billing as a protégé of the Ridley and Tony Scott School, debutante director Johnson is disappointingly lacklustre (from a "10 years ago" prologue to suspense-free finale, imagination is at a sad premium) and rarely aims above the mediocre. Throw in a colourless cast of bad guys (fronted by an apparently embarrassed Peter Firth and "that chick from Xena: Warrior Princess") and, just when you think things can't possibly get any worse - astonishingly enough - they do.

Presumably pitched as "Speed meets The Rock", the makers were certainly never aiming for the cerebral, but nonetheless seem happy from the outset to simply cobble together a couple of action staples and hope it'll all work out. Strangely enough, it doesn't.

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