Directed by Andrew Davis
Visual Effects Supervisors: Patrick McClung and Nick Davis

Visual Effects Produced by:


CHAIN REACTION features visual effects courtesy of Digital Domain. Keanu Reeves stars as a student who is part of a team that discovers a new energy source. With little time to celebrate, the laboratory is sabotaged, igniting eight Chicago city blocks, causing Reeves to flee the cops and the FBI and find the people who are behind it.

CHAIN REACTION represents yet another triumph for Digital Domain. The film's opening explosion is handled with DD's usual flair, mixing traditional effects and new digital techniques. The model photography of the large warehouse exploding is top notch, and the wide shots of destruction are jaw-droppingly cool. Within the sequence, there are a few shots that stand out. One is a tracking shot from a helicopter that begins looking straight down at Keanu Reeves' motorcycle zooming from the ensuing shockwave. The camera tilts up to reveal the surrounding buildings behind him, and then seeing them get totally demolished by the pulse. This shot was reminiscent of DD's outstanding camera work during the launch sequence of APOLLO 13. Another great shot is a brief take of Reeves, after he just fell off his bike and lands in a ditch. He looks up, and right over him is a huge tanker truck right in his face. Finally, the extreme wide shot of the entire area, along with Morgan Freeman's over the shoulder shot of the aftermath were both extraordinary.

Chicago is my hometown--it was certainly a visceral experience for me to see a huge chunk of Chicagoland demolished.

At the end of the film, the action moves to a huge installation in Virginia, where the experiment is re-created, this time with Reeves actually sabotaging the procedure. The ensuing explosion is not as dramatic, but the sequence contained a few startling shots. One, in particular, was one of the bad guys in a tunnel, watching an enormous fireball approach, and envelop him. DD's compositing once again shines.

My criticism of the visual effects of the film? There weren't enough effects. This is certainly not DD's fault. The early explosion scene is over far too quickly. Director Andrew Davis should have allowed DD to contribute more effects shots to the film.

As for the movie, I was slightly disappointed. The film was too much like THE FUGITIVE, which would have been to its advantage if the characters were at all interesting. The lone shining star of the film is the ever-dependable Morgan Freeman.

Also, I'm really upset because they cut out the scene that was filmed at the grocery store across the street from my apartment. Grrr.

With their fifth major feature film, Digital Domain has certainly developed a distinctive style with their visual effects, and continues its trend of high-quality visual effects.

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