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Sunchaser
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The Sunchaser

Director: Michael Cimino

Cast: Woody Harrelson, Jon Seda, Anne Bancroft

 

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Michael Cimino, the director of The Deer Hunter and the ill-fated Heaven's Gate, helmed this bizarre New Age action picture in 1996. Based on a screenplay by Charles Leavitt, the film stars Woody Harrelson as Dr. Michael Reynolds, a rich, young L.A. physician who worries more about promotions and buying a $2 million home for his family than about his

Overview

Michael Cimino, the director of The Deer Hunter and the ill-fated Heaven's Gate, helmed this bizarre New Age action picture in 1996. Based on a screenplay by Charles Leavitt, the film stars Woody Harrelson as Dr. Michael Reynolds, a rich, young L.A. physician who worries more about promotions and buying a $2 million home for his family than about his patients. Reynolds is assigned a 16-year-old convicted murderer, Brandon Monroe (Jon Seda), as his new patient. Brandon is a half-Cherokee gang member who killed his own stepfather, has terminal cancer, resents his privileged doctors, and has beaten up several pediatricians who've tried to care for him. Brandon gets a gun while going to the bathroom at the hospital and kidnaps Reynolds, stealing a car. While constantly threatening his doctor's life, Brandon takes him on a trip to an Arizona Indian reservation with the aim of immersing himself in a magic lake which native tradition says has healing powers. Along the way, the pair meet up with motorcycle gang members, rattlesnakes, and several New Age philosophers. Eventually, the materialistic doctor and the young tough gain a grudging respect for each other's values, and Reynolds even steals money to buy Brandon medicine. ~ Michael Betzold

Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide
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 clichés. 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.

Product Details

Release Date:
10/13/2009
UPC:
0794043131226
Original Release:
1996
Rating:
R
Source:
Warner Home Video

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Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Woody Harrelson Dr. Michael Reynolds
Jon Seda Brandon 'Blue' Monroe
Anne Bancroft Dr. Renata Baumbauer
Alexandra Tydings Victoria Reynolds
Matt Mulhern Dr. Chip Byrnes
Talisa Soto Navajo Woman
Victor Aaron Webster Skyhorse
Richard Bauer Dr. Bradford
Harry Carey Cashier
Michael O'Neill Agent Moreland
Lawrence Pressman A.I.C. Collier
Robert "Bobby Z" Zajonc FBI Pilot

Technical Credits
Michael Cimino Director,Producer
Douglas Axtell Sound/Sound Designer
Joseph M. Caracciolo Executive Producer
Jackie Carr Set Decoration/Design
Brian Cook Asst. Director
Joe D'Augustine Editor
Pablo Ferro Consultant/advisor
Judy Goldstein Producer
Maurice Jarre Score Composer
Charles Leavitt Screenwriter
Terry Liebling Casting
Lee Mayman Art Director
Arnon Milchan Producer
Douglas Milsome Cinematographer
Michael Nathanson Executive Producer
Victoria Paul Production Designer
Edward L. Rubin Art Director
Larry Spiegel Producer
Joseph S. Vecchio Producer

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