The Last Chase (1981)

Following a lethal plague which has wiped out millions of people and a severe oil crisis that has caused driving to be outlawed, an authoritarian government has come into power and set up restrictive, rigidly enforced codes of proper conduct that have made individual freedom a thing of the past. Stubbornly rebellious former race car driver Frank Hart (an appropriately stalwart and rock-like Lee Majors), frustrated with the fascist society he can’t comfortably acquit himself to the stifling dictates of, decides to drive his red Porsche to the still liberated California, taking equally recalcitrant electronics whiz kid Ring McCarthy (winningly played by Chris Makepeace) along with him on a perilous trek across America’s desolate abandoned highways. Shrewd regime toady Hawkins (finely essayed to smug’n’smarmy perfection by George Touliatos) assigns batty old ace Air Force pilot J.G. Williams (a delightfully spunky Burgess Meredith, howling like a crazed bloodhound and clearly having a grand old time mugging it up) to track Hart down and kill him.

An on-target celebration of rugged individualism and a frightfully prescient pre-90’s prediction of mass bureaucratic conformity taken to a hideously repressive extreme, “The Last Chase” really cuts it as a rip-roaringly exciting and effective futuristic sci-fi/car chase action thriller movie ode to “stand up to the Man and to hell with the System” status quo defying rebellion and independence. Director Martyn Burke (who co-wrote the nicely thoughtful script with Roy Moore and C.R. O’Christopher), aided by Gil (“Blood Beach,” “The Manipulater”) Melle’s jaunty, swelling score, keeps the pace rattling along at a crisp, steady tempo, occasionally pausing for moments of quiet introspection and character development which ensure that the film has plenty of heart to spare (the rapport between Hart and McCarthy is especially breezy and appealing). Moreover, this feature’s portrait of a seriously uptight, anal retentive, overly rule conscientious no-fun near future society has uncanny parallels to nauseatingly stuffy 90’s political correctness, thus giving the picture a topicality and resonance that’s sadly still quite timely even today. An extremely good, pleasingly provocative and rather scarily prophetic science fiction film.