The Sunchaser (1996)

Genres - Drama, Thriller  |   Sub-Genres - Crime Thriller, Road Movie  |   Run Time - 118 min.  |   Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - R
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The Sunchaser is a half-baked drama that combines elements of a kidnapping thriller and ideas of spiritual awakening, with uneven results at best. What was intended as a theatrical release fared poorly enough with test audiences to go straight to video, even with big names like Woody Harrelson, Anne Bancroft, and director Michael Cimino straining to lend it credibility. As the gangbanger at the film's center, Jon Seda struts and intimidates like the real McCoy, while doing a decent job conveying his character's trembling grasp on his own mortality, which contradicts the stoicism he shows the world. But his journey is a pretty hokey one, as the vengeful spite he feels toward his doctor (Harrelson) soon gives over to the amiable mechanics of a buddy road movie. Predictably, the comeuppance of Harrelson's oncologist also softens into something more precious, namely, his renewed appreciation of patient care and human life. Bancroft enters the narrative too late to serve as a life preserver in this swirling ocean of mismatched clich├ęs. Although it looks okay, cinematographer Douglas Milsome would get better desert footage in the satisfying thriller Breakdown the following year. As for Cimino, the one-time phenom and Oscar winner, The Sunchaser constitutes an odd and disappointing return to filmmaking after a six-year absence. Another long layoff would follow.