Chain Reaction (1996) - Rotten Tomatoes

Chain Reaction1996

Chain Reaction (1996)



Critic Consensus: Ironic given the scientific breakthrough at the story's core, Chain Reaction is a man-on-the-run thriller that mostly sticks to generic formula.

Chain Reaction Photos

Movie Info

Just as the university research team is about to prove that their new technique will permit water to be used as a fuel, their laboratory is sabotaged and the lab manager is killed. Eddie Kasalivich (Keanu Reeves) stumbles onto the scene and manages not only to witness the sabotage, but to escape from it. When he tries to talk about it to authorities, he discovers that they think he and the other project survivors committed the crime. In reality, a group of energy companies have conspired with interested parties in the government to completely erase all notion of the existence of a way to use water as fuel. The project sponsor (Morgan Freeman) wants Eddie to turn himself in, but before he can do that, he must find enough evidence to clear himself and his friends. But in order to succeed, Eddie must avoid assassination attempts by the real perpetrators. ~ Clarke Fountain, Rovi

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Keanu Reeves
as Eddie Kasalivich
Morgan Freeman
as Paul Shannon
Rachel Weisz
as Dr. Lily Sinclair
Fred Ward
as Agt. Leon Ford
Kevin Dunn
as Agt. Doyle
Brian Cox
as Lyman Earl Collier
Joanna Cassidy
as Maggie McDermott
Chelcie Ross
as Ed Rafferty
Nicholas Rudall
as Dr. Alistair Barkley
Tzi Ma
as Dr. Lu Chen
Krzysztof Pieczynski
as Lucasz Screbneski
Julie R. Pearl
as Emily Pearl
Gene Barge
as James Washington
Daniel Friedman
as Video Dan
Nathan Davis
as Morris Grodsky
Aaron Williams
as Lab Techie No. 3
Johnny Lee Davenport
as Caleb Williams
James Sie
as Ken Lim
Joan Kohn
as Sarah Fine
Juan Ramírez
as Raymond Pena
Nydia Rodriguez Terracina
as Gabrielle Guerrera
Scott Benjaminson
as Stuart Showcroft
Ned Schmidtke
as Wisconsin Chief Schmidke
Randall Arney
as DC Technician
Noelle Bou-Sliman
as DC technician
Joe Kosala
as Sergeant Joe Byczkowski
Ron Dean
as Sergeant Nick Zingaro
Miguel Nino
as Officer Miguel
Turk Muller
as Dane County Cop
Neil Flynn
as State Trooper Nemitz
Michael Skewes
as State Trooper Schwartz
Michael James
as Jim Gaylord
Margaret Travolta
as Anita Fermi
Tom Mula
as Chicago Administrator
Denise Price
as Receptionist
Rick LeFevour
as Matthew Haig
Charley Sherman
as Justin Tidy
Gina Raffin
as Colleen Dryden
Pam Zekman
as Rita Bliss
Lisa Tejero
as Dolores Enrique
David Pasquesi
as Al Vanzetti
John Drummond
as Drummond
Catherine Lemkau
as TV reporter
Tell Draper
as TV reporter
Danny Goldring
as Clancy Butler
Eddie B. Smith
as Yusef Reed
Ken Moreno
as Naldo Partida
as Chidi Egbuna
Allen Hamilton
as Senator Phil Schmidt
Dick Cusack
as Senate Chairman
Nick Kusenko
as Staff Member Stennis
David Michael Gee
as Senate Guard
Stanley M. Span
as Firechief No. 1
Ann Whitney
as Barkley's Lawyer
Rich Komenich
as Bar Patron
Chris Holloway
as Max Holloway
Afram Bill Williams
as Bridge Controller
Will Zahrn
as Bridge Controller
John W. Hardy
as Train Porter
Joseph Kosala
as Sergeant Joe Byczkowski
Mary Seibel
as Older Woman on Train
Nina Beesley
as Flower Shop Owner
Michael Shannon
as D.C. Flower Delivery Man
Walter Doggett
as Gate Guard
Jack Kandel
as Panhandler
Timothy Maxwell
as Homeless Husband
Leslie Mikol
as Homeless Wife
Rio Zavala
as Homeless Man
Mike Gray
as Swizlard
Joe Guastaferro
as Tunnel Foreman
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Critic Reviews for Chain Reaction

All Critics (34) | Top Critics (11)

The narrative is very complex, but what's on the screen is little more than generic, non-narrative-specific, guy-being-chased stuff.

January 1, 2000

The movie is so uninvolving that it inspires renewed respect for Broken Arrow, which was equally stupid but excitingly filmed.

January 1, 2000 | Rating: 1.5/4
Top Critic

[Chain Reaction] has better acting, better writing, more spectacular chase sequences and more genuine drama than all of this summer's blockbusters.

January 1, 2000 | Rating: 4/4 | Full Review…

Chain Reaction isn't dull -- the film is paced to keep audiences attentive -- but the lack of originality dampens its enjoyability.

January 1, 2000 | Rating: 2.5/4 | Full Review…

It's not a bad film in individual moments and in the energy of itsperformances, but it doesn't make a whole lot of sense.

January 1, 2000 | Rating: 2.5/4 | Full Review…

Plodding and predictable, and a big disappointment.

January 1, 2000 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Chain Reaction

I remember seeing the trailer for this film way back in 96 at the cinema. It looked really quite cool and exciting, Reeves was flying high at the time and it boasted some snazzy CGI, talk about deceptive! The whole film seemed to be centred around one sequence. That sequence being the huge explosion that occurs near the start and wipes out a vast area of Chicago, nuclear in appearance. Now this was back in the days when CGI was still a newish weapon and big flashy destructive sequences like this were looked upon as impressive and breaking the barrier. Looking back it is a nice effect but of course its dated and the cracks are showing, but I'm not gonna moan about that. The problem is the rest of the film is really quite dull, visuals are dull, action is dull and the acting is even dull despite a very good cast line up. Reeves is his usual monotone self, Weisz is a complete drip and Freeman now looks pretty cliched in his natty Malcolm X looking 90's suit and hat. It really does feel like they wanted to show off their CGI destruction sequence so they made an entire film around that one moment. A completely by the numbers action thriller (if you can call it that) that covers every aspect you'd expect from the fugitive chase movie book. Bland boring so very very predictable and the films title is one of those totally meaningless but cool sounding types that looks even cooler with a striking font.

Phil Hubbs
Phil Hubbs

Super Reviewer

Reaction Time 8-4-96 Saw it again! Good movie! Anyone want to venture a guess that Keanu Reeves was sorry he passed up Speed 2 to make this turkey? Despite the fact that it is instantly forgettable, CHAIN REACTION is a fairly decent sci-fi actioneer. The writers deserve to be commended for their original storyline, in which a scientific team discovers a low-cost fuel source reliant only on water.The action and thrills are never first-rate, and things drag on a tad too long, but somehow, CHAIN REACTION is better than the sum of its parts. Nevertheless watch it when you have the chance, nice cast. Eddie Kasalivich, an undergraduate at the University of Chicago, works as a technician for a scientific team that discovers an alternative, low-cost, pollution-free fuel source. When one of the chief scientists is murdered and the invention stolen, Eddie and physicist Lily Sinclair are framed for it and have to flee for their lives, with the FBI, CIA and other involved parties in close pursuit. Paul Shannon, Eddies mentor, is the director of a scientific company which - unknown to Eddie - has commercial interests in the invention. Eddie and Lily set out to find the stolen invention and hopefully clear themselves of the false charges.

Manu Gino
Manu Gino

Super Reviewer


Pretty poor but saved from being awful by the great Morgan Freeman and the brilliant Rachel Weisz. Pretty much your average popcorn film.

Sarah Gaish
Sarah Gaish

Super Reviewer

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