Film Review: Speed

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The chemistry between Reeves and Bullock is great and both are perfect in their roles

Public transport may be considered a disaster in its own right but take Dennis Hopper as a bomber, Keanu Reaves as a balls to the wall cop and Sandra Bullock as herself and you have a hi-octane bombathon of special effects and crazy stunts!

Released: 1994

Runtime: 1hr 56 mins

The Premise

A bomb is placed on a bus that will go off as it drops below 50 kph. Cue carnage!!!

The Disasters Faced

Bombs, buses, elevators, trains, punctures, passengers going loopy, losing your left thumb and a penchant for finding roads and tracks that aren’t finished!

The Execution

The beauty of Jan de Bont’s action films usually is that you have a constant peppering of action. There’s always a drama, a stunt, an action sequence. The camera work is exceptional with several views of the same big explosions to make sure everything’s covered. Characters are fleshed out enough to make them more than cut-outs and while the script has some silly lines it’s still tightly woven. What I also admire is that Speed although primarily about the bus, has a pre and post incident as well which means that everything to do with the bus sequence has a very specific purpose. The elevator sequence at the beginning is taut and well put together. The train sequence at the end is a little less so but this is because I’d almost forgotten about the fact Dennis Hopper hadn’t been caught as I was so excited by the middle section. It’s a testament to how good it is and you effectively have three similar set pieces making up one superb film.

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I hate rush hours too Sandy…

The Effects

The elevator, bus and train stunts all hold up to the test of time because they look very realistic. If there is CGI involved it must be to a minimum because all the flames, sparks and flying people look like real life parts! In some ways, it certainly doesn’t look like it was made in 1994. I’ve also seen the train sequence stolen for other disaster movies!

Why It’s Worth Watching

Taut direction and script work, stunt after stunt after stunt, a decent body count and some good chemistry between Bullock & Reeves certainly all help. It’s a film I’ve barely heard anyone criticise either as it seems to tick at least a box or two for everyone. I like to play a game of giving voices and backgrounds to the characters who don’t talk as some of them give some stellar poses and cries for help.

Drinking Game

Your drinking game for each back 80s action movie line and/or for each “fuck me” that’s whispered or shouted.

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Pop Quiz Hot Shot! There’s some ink on your face – what do you do…. WHAT DO YOU DO?!

Best Character

Hopper makes a fantastic baddie and takes the prize but one of the reasons this movie works so well is the excellent casting across the board. Glenn Plummer wins though as the Jaguar owner. He must have made such an impression that he comes back for a cameo in the sequel!

Best Death

Hopper’s is a great way to go – complete with silly action movie line.

Weirdest Moment

Whilst there’s no particular strange moments aside from some lapses in logic there’s tons of continuity errors and unsynched visual/audio lines. Characters with still mouths while they speak etc.

Random Trivia

Sandra Bullock actually learnt to drive a bus for the movie and passed on her first attempt. Also according to IMDB, Joss Weedon wrote most of the dialogue in the film but has been uncredited for doing so.

Conclusion

One of my all-time favourite films. It takes everything I love about disaster movies and action movies and merges it into 2 hours of thrills, spills and drama. What more could you possibly want about a bus?

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