Chain Reaction (1996 film)

Last updated
Chain Reaction
Chain reaction ver1.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Andrew Davis
Screenplay by
Story by
Produced by
  • Arne L. Schmidt
  • Andrew Davis
Starring
Cinematography Frank Tidy
Edited by
Music by Jerry Goldsmith
Production
companies
Distributed by 20th Century Fox
Release date
  • August 2, 1996 (1996-08-02)
Running time
107 minutes
CountryUnited States
LanguageEnglish
Budget$50 million
Box office$60.2 million [1]

Chain Reaction is a 1996 American science fiction action thriller film directed by Andrew Davis, starring Keanu Reeves, Morgan Freeman, Rachel Weisz, Fred Ward, Kevin Dunn and Brian Cox. The plot centers on the invention of a new non-contaminating power source based on hydrogen and the attempts by the United States Government to prevent the spreading of this technology to other countries. The film was released in the United States on August 2, 1996.

Contents

Plot

While working with a team from the University of Chicago to convert hydrogen from water into clean energy, machinist Eddie Kasalivich inadvertently discovers the secret: a sound frequency that perfectly stabilizes their process. After the project team celebrates with a party at the lab, project physicist Dr. Lily Sinclair finds her car unable to start, so Eddie gets her home by bus. Back in the lab, Drs. Alistair Barkley and Lu Chen are on their computers preparing to upload their discovery to the Internet so they can share the breakthrough with the world, when a band of men enter the lab and attack the pair.

Returning to the lab to get his motorcycle, Eddie hears alarms and runs inside to find Alistair dead with a plastic bag over his head and Chen missing. As the hydrogen reactor has become dangerously unstable, Eddie, unable to shut it down, speeds away on his motorbike as a concealed detonator triggers a massive hydrogen explosion that destroys the lab and surrounding streets.

Upon returning from questioning by the FBI to their homes, Eddie and Lily realize that they are being framed, with planted evidence found in both of their houses. The two flee to an observatory belonging to Maggie McDermott, an old friend of Eddie's. They contact Paul Shannon, the wealthy man funding the project (secretly backed by DARPA), but they are almost caught in the process and narrowly escape. As the pair are evading more police, Paul meets with Lyman Earl Collier at C-Systems Research complex to discuss the current events. It becomes apparent that Lyman and the CIA orchestrated the plot to destroy the lab and frame the pair for it. Despite some disagreement, Paul and Lyman decide to continue the hunt for the pair, a task facilitated when Eddie sends a coded message to Paul arranging a meeting. At their rendezvous, Paul reveals his involvement, but Lyman’s thugs (the ones who murdered Alistair) capture Lily while Eddie barely escapes.

After tracing the license plate on the thugs' van, Eddie tracks them to the secret C-Systems Research facility where Paul and Lyman are forcing Lily and Chen to replicate the project. Eddie sneaks in during the night and proceeds to "fix" the system.

The next morning, one of the other scientists discovers the working reactor and everyone celebrates. A suspicious Paul immediately obtains a download of the working data, and secretly gives it to his assistant, Anita, for safekeeping. He then finds Eddie at a computer in the company boardroom, who demands his release in exchange for making the reactor work. Paul agrees but Lyman refuses, believing that the process already works, so Eddie sets the reactor to explode while sending proof of his innocence to the FBI and blueprints of the reactor to "hopefully a couple thousand" international scientists. Lyman responds by shooting Chen dead, then locking in Eddie and Lily to die in the explosion.

Paul kills Lyman for overstepping the bounds of the program, leaving the body to be incinerated in the explosion. During his own escape, he deactivates the containment system, allowing Eddie and Lily to escape. They are attacked by Lyman's henchmen (Yusef Reed and Clancy Butler), but escape moments before a blast wave sweeps through the complex (incinerating both Reed and Butler's corpses).

Having survived the shockwave, Eddie and Lily are met by FBI agents Ford and Doyle, now convinced of their innocence, who take them to safety. Paul is shown departing the scene via chauffeured limo, and the last scene has him dictating a memo to his secretary Anita, which informs the Director of the CIA that "...C-System [is] no longer a viable entity."

Cast

In addition, Michael Shannon and Neil Flynn make appearances as a van driver and a Wisconsin State Police Trooper, respectively.

Production

Large portions of the film were shot on location in and around Chicago, Illinois, including the University of Chicago, Argonne National Laboratory, the Museum of Science and Industry, the Field Museum of Natural History, Michigan Avenue, and the James R. Thompson Center (Atrium Mall). Additional scenes were shot at Yerkes Observatory in Williams Bay, Wisconsin, on Geneva Lake in southern Wisconsin, interiors of the U.S. Capitol were shot at the Wisconsin State Capitol, in Madison, Wisconsin, at Inland Steel (now known as MITTAL Steel) in East Chicago, Indiana, and at a private residence in Barrington Hills, Illinois. Because of the cold Great Lakes winter and filming taking place during record breaking winter weather, unique challenges were present for the cast and crew. Morgan Freeman noted that "It was difficult for everyone, particularly for me because I'm tropical," he said. "I don't do cold weather. This is Chicago...in the winter. I was ill and in bed four days at a crack. It was really rough." [2] Among the extras in the film were then-U.S. Representative (later U.S. Senator) Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) [3]

Reception

Chain Reaction received negative reviews. It holds an 18% rating on Rotten Tomatoes based on 33 reviews. [4] Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "C+" on an A+ to F scale. [5]

Roger Ebert gave the film two and a half stars out of four, writing: "By movie's end, I'd seen some swell photography and witnessed some thrilling chase scenes, but when it came to understanding the movie, I didn't have a clue." [6] Jeff Millar of the Houston Chronicle wrote: "The narrative is very complex, but what's on the screen is little more than generic, non-narrative-specific, guy-being-chased stuff". [7] Conversely, Edward Guthmann of the San Francisco Chronicle felt the film was one of the summer's best movies, writing: "[Chain Reaction] has better acting, better writing, more spectacular chase sequences and more genuine drama than all of this summer's blockbusters." [8]

Chain Reaction and its cast were nominated for one award, with Keanu Reeves being nominated for the Razzie for Worst Actor, which was won by both Tom Arnold and Pauly Shore. [9]

Chain Reaction grossed just over USD$60.2 million worldwide. [10]

Scientific accuracy

In one interpretation of the film's plot, a scientific process supposedly extracts hydrogen from water, then burns the hydrogen to generate power, and leaves only water as a residue, essentially a chemical perpetual motion. The movie never clarifies how the hydrogen is extracted from the water, nor how water is still left over. The character Dr. Shannon makes contradictory statements in the combination of ideas mashed together: one time he says this is accomplished with a laser with millions of degrees, another time he says frequencies of sound and sonoluminescence. In one scene, the movie shows a bubbling container reminiscent of cold fusion electrolytic cells and another references sustained fusion. A character in the film claims that a glass of water could power Chicago for weeks, but no clear explanation is ever given as to whether this is by simply burning hydrogen released by highly efficient means or through nuclear processes. The film's title is also misleading, since "chain reaction" is related to nuclear fission, not fusion. [11]

The film is based around the premise that free energy suppression is real. The main character is told that his discovery is too disruptive: energy would suddenly be cheap, oil would no longer be necessary, oil companies would go bankrupt, and that such sudden economic changes would throw society into chaos.

Related Research Articles

Enrico Fermi Italian-American physicist (1901–1954)

Enrico Fermi was an Italian physicist and the creator of the world's first nuclear reactor, the Chicago Pile-1. He has been called the "architect of the nuclear age" and the "architect of the atomic bomb". He was one of very few physicists to excel in both theoretical physics and experimental physics. Fermi was awarded the 1938 Nobel Prize in Physics for his work on induced radioactivity by neutron bombardment and for the discovery of transuranium elements. With his colleagues, Fermi filed several patents related to the use of nuclear power, all of which were taken over by the US government. He made significant contributions to the development of statistical mechanics, quantum theory, and nuclear and particle physics.

Keanu Reeves Canadian actor

Keanu Charles Reeves is a Canadian actor. Born in Beirut and raised in Toronto, Reeves began acting in theatre productions and in television films before making his feature film debut in Youngblood (1986). He had his breakthrough role in the science fiction comedy Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure (1989), and he later reprised his role in its sequels. He gained praise for playing a hustler in the independent drama My Own Private Idaho (1991), and established himself as an action hero with leading roles in Point Break (1991) and Speed (1994).

Nuclear chain reaction One single nuclear reaction causes more subsequent nuclear reactions

A nuclear chain reaction occurs when one single nuclear reaction causes an average of one or more subsequent nuclear reactions, thus leading to the possibility of a self-propagating series of these reactions. The specific nuclear reaction may be the fission of heavy isotopes. The nuclear chain reaction releases several million times more energy per reaction than any chemical reaction.

Nuclear reactor Device used to initiate and control a nuclear chain reaction

A nuclear reactor, formerly known as an atomic pile, is a device used to initiate and control a fission nuclear chain reaction or nuclear fusion reactions. Nuclear reactors are used at nuclear power plants for electricity generation and in nuclear marine propulsion. Heat from nuclear fission is passed to a working fluid, which in turn runs through steam turbines. These either drive a ship's propellers or turn electrical generators' shafts. Nuclear generated steam in principle can be used for industrial process heat or for district heating. Some reactors are used to produce isotopes for medical and industrial use, or for production of weapons-grade plutonium. As of early 2019, the IAEA reports there are 454 nuclear power reactors and 226 nuclear research reactors in operation around the world.

Leo Szilard Hungarian-American physicist and inventor

Leo Szilard was a Hungarian-American physicist and inventor. He conceived the nuclear chain reaction in 1933, patented the idea of a nuclear fission reactor in 1934, and in late 1939 wrote the letter for Albert Einstein's signature that resulted in the Manhattan Project that built the atomic bomb. According to György Marx he was one of the Hungarian scientists known as The Martians.

Argonne National Laboratory Science and engineering research national laboratory in Lemont, IL, United States

Argonne National Laboratory is a science and engineering research national laboratory operated by UChicago Argonne LLC for the United States Department of Energy. The facility is located in Lemont, Illinois, outside of Chicago, and is the largest national laboratory by size and scope in the Midwest.

Neutron moderator Substance that slows down particles with no electric charge

In nuclear engineering, a neutron moderator is a medium that reduces the speed of fast neutrons, ideally without capturing any, leaving them as thermal neutrons with only minimal (thermal) kinetic energy. These thermal neutrons are immensely more susceptible than fast neutrons to propagate a nuclear chain reaction of uranium-235 or other fissile isotope by colliding with their atomic nucleus.

Scram Emergency shutdown of a nuclear reactor

A scram or SCRAM is an emergency shutdown of a nuclear reactor effected by immediately terminating the fission reaction. It is also the name that is given to the manually operated kill switch that initiates the shutdown. In commercial reactor operations, this type of shutdown is often referred to as a "SCRAM" at boiling water reactors (BWR), a "reactor trip" at pressurized water reactors (PWR) and EPIS at a CANDU reactor. In many cases, a SCRAM is part of the routine shutdown procedure, which serves to test the emergency shutdown system.

Chicago Pile-1 United States historic place

Chicago Pile-1 (CP-1) was the world's first artificial nuclear reactor. On 2 December 1942, the first human-made self-sustaining nuclear chain reaction was initiated in CP-1, during an experiment led by Enrico Fermi. The secret development of the reactor was the first major technical achievement for the Manhattan Project, the Allied effort to create atomic bombs during World War II. Developed by the Metallurgical Laboratory at the University of Chicago, it was built under the west viewing stands of the original Stagg Field. Although the project's civilian and military leaders had misgivings about the possibility of a disastrous runaway reaction, they trusted Fermi's safety calculations and decided they could carry out the experiment in a densely populated area. Fermi described the reactor as "a crude pile of black bricks and wooden timbers".

Metallurgical Laboratory Former laboratory at the University of Chicago, part of the Manhattan Project

The Metallurgical Laboratory was a scientific laboratory at the University of Chicago that was established in February 1942 to study and use the newly discovered chemical element plutonium. It researched plutonium's chemistry and metallurgy, designed the world's first nuclear reactors to produce it, and developed chemical processes to separate it from other elements. In August 1942 the lab's chemical section was the first to chemically separate a weighable sample of plutonium, and on 2 December 1942, the Met Lab produced the first controlled nuclear chain reaction, in the reactor Chicago Pile-1, which was constructed under the stands of the university's old football stadium, Stagg Field.

<i>Paycheck</i> (film) 2003 film directed by John Woo

Paycheck is a 2003 American science fiction action film based on the 1953 short story of the same name by science fiction writer Philip K. Dick. The film was directed by John Woo and stars Ben Affleck, Uma Thurman, Aaron Eckhart, Paul Giamatti, Michael C. Hall, Joe Morton, and Colm Feore. The film was released on December 25, 2003 by Paramount Pictures in North America and DreamWorks Pictures internationally, to negative reviews but was a commercial success, grossing $117.3 million at the box-office.

<i>The Chamber</i> (1996 film) 1996 American film

The Chamber is a 1996 American crime thriller film based on John Grisham's 1994 novel of the same name. The film was directed by James Foley and stars Gene Hackman and Chris O'Donnell.

<i>Thumbsucker</i> (film) 2005 American film

Thumbsucker is a 2005 American independent comedy-drama film written and directed by Mike Mills and starring Lou Taylor Pucci, Tilda Swinton, Vincent D'Onofrio, Kelli Garner, Benjamin Bratt, Vince Vaughn, and Keanu Reeves. The plot focuses on Justin Cobb, a teenager in suburban Oregon, as he copes with his thumb-sucking problem, romance, and his diagnosis with ADHD and subsequent experience using Ritalin. The screenplay was adapted from the 1999 Walter Kirn novel of the same name. Swinton also served as an executive producer.

<i>Stone Cold</i> (1991 film) 1991 film by Craig R. Baxley

Stone Cold is a 1991 action film directed by Craig R. Baxley that centers on a biker gang that tries to assassinate the district attorney and free one of their members who is on trial for murder. The film marked the acting debut of 1980s football star Brian Bosworth.

<i>The Watcher</i> (2000 film) 2000 American film

The Watcher is a 2000 American thriller film directed by Joe Charbanic and starring James Spader, Marisa Tomei and Keanu Reeves. Set in Chicago, the film is about a retired FBI agent who is stalked and taunted by a serial killer.

Linear alkylbenzene Chemical compound

Linear alkylbenzenes (sometimes also known as LABs) are a family of organic compounds with the formula C6H5CnH2n+1. Typically, n lies between 10 and 16, although generally supplied as a tighter cut, such as C12-C15, C12-C13 and C10-C13, for detergent use. The CnH2n+1 chain is unbranched. They are mainly produced as intermediate in the production of surfactants, for use in detergent. Since the 1960s, LABs have emerged as the dominant precursor of biodegradable detergents.

Phoenix, formerly known as Phoenix Nuclear Labs, is a company specializing in neutron generator technology located in Monona, Wisconsin. Founded in 2005, the company develops nuclear and particle accelerator technologies for application in medicine, defense and energy. Phoenix has held contracts with the U.S. Army, the U.S. Department of Energy, the U.S. Department of Defense and the U.S. Air Force. Phoenix developed a proprietary gas target neutron generator technology and has designed and built a number of particle accelerator-related technologies.

William Rudolph Kanne, also known as W. Rudolph Kanne, was a physicist, inventor and pioneer in the field of gas flow through ionization detectors, a member of the group responsible for the first self-sustained nuclear chain fission reaction at Staggs Field in Chicago, and participated in the Manhattan Project at the Chicago, Oak Ridge and Hanford sites.

Organic nuclear reactor

An organic nuclear reactor, or organic cooled reactor (OCR), is a type of nuclear reactor that uses some form of organic fluid, typically a hydrocarbon substance like polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB), for cooling and sometimes as a neutron moderator as well.

References

  1. "Chain Reaction". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 6 September 2020.
  2. "Morgan Freeman stars in 'Chain Reaction': latest movie in the actor's stellar career". Jet. 1996. Archived from the original on 2016-02-22.(subscription required)
  3. http://glenndeutsch.files.wordpress.com/2007/11/isthmus-keanu-skulks.doc
  4. "Chain Reaction". Rotten Tomatoes . Retrieved 2008-04-21.
  5. "CinemaScore". cinemascore.com.
  6. Ebert, Roger (1996-08-02). "Movie Reviews: Chain Reaction". Chicago Sun-Times. Archived from the original on 2016-04-21.
  7. Millar, Jeff (1996-07-31). "The thrills are missing in Chain Reaction". Houston Chronicle. Archived from the original on 1999-02-24.
  8. Guthmann, Edward (1996-08-02). "Keanu Is the Action in Frantic 'Chain Reaction'". San Francisco Chronicle.
  9. HeadRAZZBerry (2005-12-04). "1996 RAZZIE Nominees & "Winners"". Newsgroup:  Official RAZZIE Forum The Official RAZZIE Forum Check |newsgroup= value (help). Archived from the original on 2009-03-25. Retrieved 2008-04-21.
  10. "Chain Reaction". Box Office Mojo . Retrieved 2008-04-21.
  11. Sidney Perkowitz (2010), Hollywood Science: Movies, Science, and the End of the World (illustrated ed.), Columbia University Press, pp. 113–114, ISBN   9780231142816