It is the early twenty-first century, and two decades ago Franklyn Hart (Lee Majors) was a highly successful racing driver until an accident on the track caused him to leave it all behind, so traumatised was he. Yet more trauma was to come as a deadly disease swept the world and claimed his wife and son, leaving him directionless in life as hardline bureaucracy stepped in to take over. The new authorities made sure to try and keep some kind of ecological balance, thus all forms of oil-fuelled transport were outlawed, and although it didn't look like Hart was too bothered, he was...
Yet another dystopian science fiction would-be epic, The Last Chase was one of those Canadian tax shelter movies, so though it had two American stars in Six Million Dollar Man Lee Majors and Burgess Meredith, most of the other faces, and locations for that matter, which you saw were from North of the United States' border. For an outdoorsy film, this did mean snow on the ground in some scenes and that oddly chilly look to the photography, but there was an agenda here which offered a dire warning to the people of the world, or more likely those who would catch this on late night television: the Government wants to take your cars away!
Whether they actually did want this in the eighties was extremely doubtful, as there was a definite patriotism to most action efforts of this stripe during the decade, so Ronald Reagan and his friends were all too pleased to keep the populace buying the gas guzzlers and allowing them the ample pleasures of the open road. But don't tell that to the sci-fi, which if it wasn't blowing up the planet in nuclear war was guiding its audiences to believe that in the future the establishment was going to turn your country into something akin to fascist states. Or Communist states, whichever worried you more. Thus in this movie the ecologists have gotten their way and there is to be no more pollution, which sees the causes of that pollution banned.
Really this was not so different from any number of inferior Mad Max-influenced flicks, except it had two better known stars in it, as long as they had an excuse to film abundant sequences of their customised racing car powering along the highways, and occasionally getting shot at. It was Burgess's aged pilot who was pulling the trigger, pressed back into service by the monolithic authority from their all-seeing control room who think his jet fighter plane the best way of catching the hundred miles an hour plus speeds of Hart. Meredith seemed to be enjoying his role rather too much, as he appears to be getting a sexual kick out of taking to the skies, but that was simply one quirk of a movie which really could have done with a few more.
After pausing to dismiss alternative energy sources which presumably would have allowed everyone to drive again seeing as how the world's population had been depleted, but never mind, Hart evades the cops and picks up a passenger in bullied schoolboy Chris Makepeace who becomes his sidekick, and off they go. But where? A more radical move would be to have Hart unsure of this and once he had gained his freedom find himself with no destination in mind, but he has been picking up signals from the State of California which is somehow not part of the U.S.A. anymore, so that's where he aims for. In truth, there was quite a nice, bleakly futuristic atmosphere to The Last Chase for parts of it, but its nostalgia for the present didn't quite carry it into the approaching years even if certain conspiracists would tell you this was the way the world was headed. By the time Hart is staying on an Indian reservation you wonder if it's going to go all Billy Jack, but at that point inspiration had run dry and it sputtered to the finish line. Music by Gil Melle.