Speed (1994)

Speed (1994)
  • Time: 116 min
  • Genre: Action | Crime | Thriller
  • Director: Jan de Bont
  • Cast: Keanu Reeves, Sandra Bullock, Dennis Hopper, Jeff Daniels


Bomber terrorist’s elevator plan backfires, so he rigs a bomb to a LA city bus. The stipulation is: once armed, the bus must stay above 50 mph to keep from exploding. Also if LAPD Officer tries to unload any passengers off, Payne will detonate it. Joe Morton co-stars as Jack’s superior, and Jeff Daniels supports Jack helping him try to defuse the bomb.

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  • The premise of a summer action movie doesn’t get much better than this one: A bus in downtown LA is rigged with a bomb that is set to explode if it goes below 50 mph. But as film history will tell us, a good premise does not make a good movie unless the filmmakers do unique and interesting things with it. Does “Speed” have what it takes? Absolutely.

    When it comes to action/adventure movies that expand on a single premise, there’s no one better than Jan de Bont. Considering where his career is right now, that surprising, since the man who gave us masterpieces such as this and “Twister” is being passed over for hacks and wannabees such as Simon West and other cheap posers that don’t know what they’re doing. de Bont never wastes a moment, and that keeps the pace up. “Speed” is relentless, especially in this respect. The visuals are first-rate, and except for one minor exception, they surpass today’s (if only because they are real, or the CGI isn’t so cheap it’s obvious).

    The acting is great as well. There are few actors as consistently wooden as Keanu Reeves (save for Luke Wilson). But I guess every actor has his day (Reeves has three: this, “The Devil’s Advocate” and “The Matrix”). Granted, the role doesn’t require much range, but Reeves creates a likable and sympathetic hero (California cool included). Dennis Hopper is a terrific villain, rivalling Alan Rickman in “Die Hard,” though Hopper is more psychotic, or in his own words, “eccentric.” Also noteworthy is the terrifically lovable Sandra Bullock who uses her comic aptitude to great effect, and she also allows herself to be vulnerable, which makes her more three-dimensional.

    Like in de Bont’s later film, “Twister,” composer Mark Macina creates a memorable theme that complements the film to perfection.

    Flaws aren’t really a problem here (I dare anyone to name an action movie that hasn’t given into temptation and gone over the top at least a little). Yes it recycles one of the twists that it used, but it still works, so I can’t really fault it.

    Finally here’s a movie that lives up to its premise and its title.

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