Starring: Damien Puckler, Aries Spears, Jessica Morris
Director: Michael Matteo Rossi
Running Time: 84 mins
Chase is an American film about a hitman who finds himself on the verge of leaving the profession he has worked in for so long, but must still prove his loyalty to his mentor and best friend.
An excellent combination of all-night thrillers in the vein of Stretch, and dark, pensive crime dramas like Drive and You Were Never Really Here, Chase is a really engrossing watch, and one that keeps you hooked throughout in a slick and intriguing story that’s simple to follow on the surface, but full of real dramatic depth whichever way you look.
And that’s where I want to start, because at first glance, this film doesn’t really seem like much more than your average action thriller: a hitman who finds himself under threat when he wants to leave the business. And yet, while the film manages to retain the purely entertaining and even exciting elements of that surface premise, it’s what it achieves around and underneath that that really makes Chase stand out.
Above all, there is real, engrossing dramatic depth pretty much right the way through this movie. Sure, the action makes for some good excitement here and there, but this is definitely a character-driven story, and one that’s brilliantly simple to follow, yet still with all the dramatic payoff of a far more complex movie, a balance that is really difficult to achieve.
As a result, while you engross yourself more in the relationship between our main character and the man he has worked in the business with for years, the film surprises by bringing out so much more character intrigue surrounding not only him, but also the supporting characters, giving the story that depth and drama in almost all respects, and allowing it to work just as well (if not even better) in the guise of a riveting character-driven drama as an all-night action thriller.
Not only does the excellent screenplay make Chase a surprisingly enthralling watch, but the movie is also a visually impressive one right the way through. As is the case with the very nature of all-night thrillers, the screen is always bathed in darkness and shadows, often using neon lighting to bring a bit of light and visual energy to proceedings.
Chase, on the other hand, isn’t overly reliant on that slightly more generic visual style, and while there is still a good bit of striking neon imagery here and there, the film somehow manages to make natural-looking darkness work almost entirely on its own, with the majority of sequences taking place in dimly lit basements, dark streets at midnight, or large, shadowy rooms.
Common sense would normally dictate that it would be nigh on impossible to see what’s going on at any point with such a style, yet Chase not only makes all of its action and everything in between both visually striking and fundamentally visible, but also uses that darkness to great dramatic effect, furthering the emotional gravitas of the story and equally creating tension and dark intrigue as the film draws to its engrossing finale.
There’s a whole lot that makes Chase a really rather impressive movie, both from an action perspective and a dramatic one. However, the one gripe that I do have with the film is that, despite its riveting story throughout, it often lacks the pace and energy to make for an endlessly enthralling watch, struggling to establish a consistent growth of tension or emotion that builds to a crescendo near the end.
It doesn’t make the story any less interesting, but the slower pacing early on and the occasionally sluggish editing makes the film feel a whole lot longer than it is, making it a lot harder to really wrap yourself up in the story to the extent that would be best.
Having said that, I was really impressed by Chase. Not only an exciting and engaging all-night action thriller, but a genuinely riveting, emotionally deep and character-driven drama throughout, it’s a really great watch, furthered by a striking and arguably even groundbreaking visual style, and only let down by a slightly sluggish pace throughout, and that’s why I’m giving it a 7.7 overall.