The Last Chase
Our rating: one LAVA® motion lamp
First comes the complicated set-up. What's a bad movie without the complicated set-up? Like the number of licks it takes to get to the center of Tootsie-Pop, the world may never know. Lee Majors (fresh off The Norseman) plays Franklyn Hart, a race car driver who was on his way to setting some sort of record at an international racing championship when he was involved in a car crash. (Needless to say, Tiger Woods went on to win.) Because of this, Frank developed a psychological aversion to racing and can no longer drive fast. In the years following the crash (which took place "in the 80s") the United States' supply of oil ran out, and the country was hit by a plague. Frank's wife and child died of the unidentified disease (judging by the wallpaper in Frank's Seventies-style house, they were projectile vomiting), and Frank was made a spokesman for mass transit in the new order.
Before Hart heads off on his cross-country odyssey, he somehow picks up a student named Ring. Ring is played by Chris Makepeace, who played a high school schlep who kept getting beaten up by his classmates in the classic film My Bodyguard. In The Last Chase, he plays a high school schlep who keeps getting beaten up by his classmates. What a range, that Chris! Precisely how Ring hooks up with Hart is a very convoluted story, and quite contrived as well, so just take our word for it: Ring ends up riding shotgun as Hart makes a run for a border.
Now, you're a totalitarian regime that wants to catch a guy in a Porsche: What do you do -- what do you do? If you answered, "Put Burgess Meredith in an old Sabre jet and send him after the car," you may have what it takes to impose your will upon a United States weakened by disease and lack of gas, because that's exactly what they do in The Last Chase. Meredith plays a Korean War-era fighter pilot who is apparently the only person qualified to fly anymore. Personally, we would have thought that they could have chosen some guy who was 18 when the fuel ran out so that the pilot wouldn't be totally geriatric, but hey, we've never oppressed the population of any country, so what do we know?
Oops, we forgot one other feature of the totalitarian order. They have "the laser," which is a smallish laser gun positioned on a small hill overlooking that abandoned highway in the middle of Arizona. Hawkins says it was put there to fight off the Russians, assuming the Russians tried to invade America by way of an abandoned highway in the middle of Arizona. Also, from what we see, the laser is not effective at hitting targets that move much faster than your average cactus, so if the Russians came in at even a slow trot America would be screwed.
The most depressing aspect of The Last Chase is that, if this is indeed the last motor chase in American history, it is rather pathetic. One guy in a racing Porsche pursued by men in electric golf carts and a geezer in a jet fighter does not make for gripping high-speed cinema. We prefer to think that the fascist anti-oil government in place might have invented speedy electric cars or even have a fleet of their own gas-guzzling automobiles stashed away in order to hunt down such lawbreakers as Hart. Even the makers of such lowbrow Corman efforts as Grand Theft Auto and Death Race 2000 understood that chases need lots of cars so they can be cracked up and rolled over and generally destroyed in as flamboyant a manner as possible. Compared to these films, The Last Chase is downright soporific. To think that this is the end of the Great American Road is enough to make an assembly-line-hardened UAW member sit down on the factory floor and weep bitter, bitter tears.
The Last Chase is out of print. Sorry.