In the near future, a former race car driver speeds across the country in a daring escape from a highly regulated America in which cars, among other things, are banned. [ The Last Chase credits: Dir: Martyn Burke/ Lee Majors, Burgess Meredith, Chris Makepeace, George Touliatos/ 106 min/ Action-Adventure, SciFi-Fantasy/ Canada/ Anti-Regulation, Abuse of Power, Escape from Socialism]
The automobile is both a product of free enterprise and a symbol of personal freedom. In the static future world projected here, however, there is no room for either, hence the desperation of government bureaucrats to find and kill the country’s last motorist.
The Last Chase begins with a flashback to a post-apocalyptic 1980s America, in which some (unexplained) disaster has happened. The government has mandated sacrifices in living standards and various freedoms, out of alleged necessity. For the race car driver at the center of this tale, that means he can no longer race. Instead, he must give up driving and become a spokesperson for the mass transit authority. Like a reformed sinner, he has to sing the praises of public transportation.
Then one day, he happens to see on television an illegal amateur transmission from “Radio-Free California.” The brief message says that the people of California, apparently a breakaway state, are “returning to the machines.” He retrieves his old race car and drives west across the country to freedom in the Golden State, along the way surmounting a variety of obstacles designed to prevent any such escape—including barricades, roadside laser cannons, and fighter aircraft.
At the end, the defeated government bureaucrat who has been trying to kill the driver bemoans to his fellow bureaucrats: “Have any of you thought what this would mean? A car, on the loose, a symbol—a symbol [of] people going all over, when they want to, and where they want to. Have any of you thought what this would mean? Cars everywhere, and people wanting the things!”
This film is a frontal attack on mandated mass transit in particular, but it’s also a general expression of frustration with “too goddamn many laws.” The motorist at the center of this story doesn’t want to live the managed existence that government bureaucrats have in mind for him and for everyone else in the country. Needless to say, that’s a message rarely seen in film and one that makes this film of strong interest to libertarians.
However, in artistic terms, while there is occasionally some good acting here (Burgess Meredith shines in a small role), it’s fundamentally a B picture. The Last Chase is nonetheless an enjoyable film and certainly a must-see for car lovers.