September 11, 1978 12:00 PM

You know you’re in trouble when the characters don’t have names and the actors never bother to change clothes. But it’s really time to worry when you learn director Walter (Hard Times) Hill set out to make “more than just another chase picture.” What we get, of course, is much, much less. The screenplay gropes unsuccessfully for the pseudoexistential appeal of that other automobile vehicle, Vanishing Point. Ryan O’Neal is a professional wheelman of few words and high rates who locks bumpers with Isabelle (The Story of Adele H.) Adjani and fanatical cop Bruce Dern. Suddenly there’s more than money at stake. Oo-ow, heavy. O’Neal drives like a wild man but acts like a zombie. Lovely Isabelle handles her bad lines badly, while Dern simply adds another page to his already bulging book of crazies. Granted, there are several well-choreographed chases and crashes, but moviegoers cannot live by bent metal alone. (R)

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