Bottom Line: Not quite a classic, but certainly worth a watch.

Directed by: Jan de Bont
Starring: Alan Ruck, Beth Grant, Dennis Hopper, Glenn Plummer, Hawthorne James, Jeff Daniels, Joe Morton, Keanu Reeves, Richard Lineback, Sandra Bullock

Skilled bomber Howard Payne (Dennis Hopper) executes a plan he has been plotting for two whole years–an elevator bombing–but ends up taking not one life when the Los Angeles Police Department intervenes. Furious and in need of money, he strategically plants a bomb on a bus, notifies LAPD Officer Jack Traven (Keanu Reeves), and watches the entire experience through one of his living room televisions. As Officer Traven assists the bus’s passengers, he must maintain a speed of above fifty miles per hour, and he must not let anyone off the bus, or else Payne will set off the bomb. Things grow hectic when the bus driver is shot by a panicking passenger, and a young woman (Sandra Bullock) with no experience with driving buses takes the wheel.

Director Jan de Bont knows how to make an action movie. Prior to this film, his directorial debut, he had served as the cinematographer for action flicks such as DIE HARD, BLACK RAIN, THE HUNT FOR RED OCTOBER, and LETHAL WEAPON 3. Seeing from those credits, we are convinced that he can turn the writing by Graham Yost into something magnificent. He does. There are some missteps unmissable in the final product, however. The cinematography is far too bright for an action film. You’d expect this kind of coloration to appear in an upbeat drama. Moreover, the key “bad guy” is incredibly corny, so much that he almost seems a joke.

Blemishes aside, SPEED is a very thrilling film. It starts off slowly, with a creative, symbolic credit sequences that wipes down a credit for each floor of an elevator, before finally reaching ground floor. It’s not until Payne’s opening elevator bombing scheme is over that the actioner skyrockets into a pulsepounding event filled with nonstop, hectic action. Empowered by great performances from Bullock and Reeves, as well as De Bont’s marvelous directing, it’s lots of implausible fun, the kind that makes your heart rate crank one notch faster from each minute of screen time.


13 thoughts on “Speed

  1. Lol, Dennis Hopper (RIP) did have a tendency to over-act a bit, but I agree with you in that this movie was an entertaining diversion if nothing else. I always appreciate an action movie that is done well, I just hope more modern directors can take a not from de Bont’s book in that regard.

    Lol, First Weekend at Bernies and now Speed, you seem to be on a trend of reviewing decent first movies with HORRIBLE sequels. I’m now expecting either Transformers or The Gods must be Crazy next

    • So I guess the word of the day is “Lol”? Lol. πŸ™‚

      I actually did review The Gods Must Be Crazy back in, like, November, then I took a break from the series to review Schindler’s List, then I reviewed The Gods Must Be Crazy II. Can’t find all those other sequels they made in China, but since they don’t have their own separate Wikipedia pages, I guess I don’t need to. And I have absolutely ZERO desire to see any of the Transformers series. I can predict their stupidity from the trailers.

      And also regarding sequels, I tried to hunt down Weekend at Bernie’s II for some cinematic torture, but it wasn’t anywhere in my local library system. As for Speed 2: Cruise Control, I have it out from the library to watch tonight. Wish me luck.

      One final note: I watched The Godfather Part III last night. I’ll finish my review within the next few hours, then I’ll post it. I won’t disclose my opinion of the film within this comment. πŸ™‚

    • I hadn’t heard of The Lake House, nor did I have a clue they collaborated again after Speed, so thanks for that. Funny: the poster looks like an advertisement for an Asian romance, and the film is, in fact, a remake of a South Korean romance. Wow.

      • What? Now I actually didn’t know The Lake House was a remake of a South Korean romance! It’s terrible though, soooo boring, I wish they’d jump into the lake already. That’ll save the movie πŸ™‚

    • Yes, I agree. Sandra Bullock was great here. I wanted to hate her, but I couldn’t help but love her performance and character in combination. She’s so brilliant, it make you forget her less all enthusiastic roles (save for The Blind Side, where she was even better).

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