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Overall Rating
4.11

Awesome: 37.07%
Worth A Look49.14%
Average: 5.17%
Pretty Bad: 5.17%
Total Crap: 3.45%

5 reviews, 86 user ratings


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Speed
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by Mrs. Norman Maine

"Three! Three! Three films in one!"
4 stars

Jan DeBont's rousing actioner, 'Speed', casts Keanu Reeves as a bomb expert of few words playing cat and mouse with a histrionic Dennis Hopper in a variety of settings. It's a cozy little thrill ride of a film, well made, well paced, and requiring no more than checking your brain at the door on viewing.

CRANK SHAFT

I have emerged from my day of self-imposed house arrest, ready to take on the world; not bad after a day of bad cinema, Spago's take-out menu, and Nurse Tameka's care. I have much to do today. I absolutely must go over my Sink For Your Supper numbers so everything will be ready for the Bluefield, West Virginia concert. I also have to pack a wardrobe appropriate to Appalachia. I own some lovely little designer things, cunningly ripped, left over from the days of Flashdance which should do nicely for street wear. I also must run and see Mr. Pepper, my personal licensed cosmetologist, for a bikini wax so I shan't be too embarrassed when my skirt chugs off downstage during the thrilling new finale.

Norman has been absolutely no help. He’s had this amused grin on his face as he’s been watching me dash around this morning like a madwoman. Instead of giving me assistance or advice, he's rehearsing speeches for his upcoming audition. The Confessions of Saint Augustine project is still on. The casting director is deciding between him and Donald O'Connor for the part of Augustine's father. I hope Norman gets it as it would get him out of the house a bit. When I asked him, very nicely, to please move out of the way, he retorted that he'd submitted my name to the producers for the part of the Hippo. I was not amused.

I barely had time this evening to collapse in the home theater for a rest; given the theme of the day, I popped the DVD of Speed into the machine. Speed is one of those roller coaster thrill rides disguised as a movie. This one involves a mad bomber and a city bus that can't slow down. The biggest difficulty with this type of movie is repetition, once you introduce the characters and then put them in mortal peril, it's difficult to keep flinging more disasters at them without just doing variations on a theme. Speed solves this problem neatly by actually being three short films joined together as one. The first act introduces the obligatory psycho villain (Dennis Hopper who makes this kind of role a specialty); as the film starts, he wires a bomb to an express elevator in a high-rise building. His motivation is financial; he’s trying to fund a comfortable retirement on a ransom. Enter our hero (Keanu Reeves) and his affable sidekick (Jeff Daniels) who have to rescue the poor people trapped in the damaged car before it plummets to the bottom of the shaft. The second act is the bus act. This time the mad bomber has placed a bomb on an LA city bus. It’s rigged to go off if the bus slows below 50 mph. Keanu finds out, has to board the bus to figure out how to defuse the bomb, and we introduce the heroine/love interest (Sandra Bullock in the part that established her as America's favorite spunky girl next door). Sandra, who lost her driver's license for speeding has to take over driving the bus because (oh, never mind - it's just another one of those highly improbable plot twists to ratchet up the tension). There’s a successful resolution but the film’s not over yet. There’s a third act and, in this one, Keanu has to battle the psycho and rescue the girl from a speeding LA subway train.

The secret of the film's success is in its structure. The main plot, the bus movie is only just over an hour long. This allows director Jan DeBont and screenwriter Graham Yost to pile on the complications quick and fast, never letting the audience catch their breath. The creators also needn't worry about getting too repetitious, as they don't have that much time to fill. The other two films which bookend the main plot are only about twenty to twenty-five minutes in length. It's real easy to keep the adrenaline going there.

If pacing were the only measure of directorial success, movies would be dull. DeBont's background as Paul Verhoven's long time cinematographer serves him in good stead. Shot after shot is beautifully composed. The opening credits are superimposed over a glorious shot of an elevator shaft that segues right into plot. Another memorable moment shows flames reflected in the windows, framing the frightened faces of innocent people. There is also a witty little visual homage to Eisenstein's Potemkin that turns out very differently than you might expect which is a lot of fun. Mark Mancina’s driving score also helps the film.

Jack Traven, the bomb squad expert, is a part Keanu Reeves was born to play. Jack is a man of few words, relying instead on forceful and physical action. Reeves is one of the most physical of actors. His sculpted face and deep eyes convey much in terms of emotion and he is a natural with body language. The problem with most Reeves films is directors miscasting him in parts that require the delivery of heavy text; the poor man can't deliver a line of more than about three words without sounding idiotic. Give him a part like this, where he doesn't have to talk much, and he's dynamite. Dennis Hopper does a variation on his Blue Velvet routine and you almost expect the gas mask to come out. The movie drives forward at such a pace that Hopper works, even if he is a walking cliché. Jeff Daniels is a nice touch as he's playing completely against type. He's often at his best when allowed to do something different and he does not disappoint. Sandra Bullock does her warm and spunky routine - nothing special but it’s a fine counterpoint to Reeves. Alan Ruck (Cameron from Ferris Beuller's Day Off ) resurfaces as an adult in a small comic relief role. He hasn't lost his great comic timing.

The current DVD release has no extras, just the film. It's a good wide-screen transfer with superb sound, especially in Dolby 5.1 Surround. I kept jumping at little noises behind me. A new DVD release promised for late 2002 is supposed to be an improvement.

Originally Written 5/18/01
Revised 8/3/02

Elevator shaft dangling. Smashed crane. Screwdriver to ear. Bus flambé. News helicopters. Children in danger. Rigged garbage cans. Sign destruction. Aluminum recyclables massacre.

link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=756&reviewer=283
originally posted: 08/04/02 06:12:49
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User Comments

8/26/13 DB Good movie, but I like Point Break better 4 stars
6/01/10 User Name It's just stylish enough and just brainless enough to pass as popcorn entertainment. 3 stars
3/01/10 PAUL SHORTT FAST ACTION PACKED THRILLER WITH GOOD STUNTS AND SPECIAL EFFECTS 4 stars
12/06/07 Pamela White Speed is a great action flick Sandra and Keaneu have sparks great effects, believable plot 5 stars
3/14/07 man not the best, but I liked it anyway 4 stars
3/09/07 johnnyfog Hopper goes a little too far. Creative movie regardless 5 stars
2/22/07 fentermine diet loss pill program weight 3 stars
2/06/07 Matt I'm no Bullock fan but this all about the action and the stunts. It works! 4 stars
1/27/07 action movie fan smart suspenseful action thrill ride-best fil m of 1994 5 stars
12/29/06 David Pollastrini great action with a few comedy bits 5 stars
10/03/06 Jeremy Davies Great entertainment 4 stars
7/09/06 chris f a very good action movie 4 stars
9/10/05 Michael For speed freaks ... weak story ...but it hooks you 4 stars
8/17/05 ES Thank God buses are so aerodynamic! = were Seagal and Van Damme too busy for this loaf? 1 stars
8/12/05 D Buckley Almost everything worked in this one. 5 stars
7/03/05 Quigley had some pretty cool action scenes. reeves redeemed himself later on, in this he is lame 4 stars
5/26/05 tony great movie! Action movie lovers watch out because this is better than sex! 5 stars
5/02/05 Monster W. Kung If you think this movie is intelligent, my dog would probably outsmart you. 2 stars
4/13/05 Indrid Cold Sure it's dumb, but it's far above average action fare, very thrilling. 5 stars
2/10/05 Jeff Anderson JAN DE BONT'S FIRST & ONLY GREAT FILM TO DATE, EVER! AVOID, AVOID SPEED 2 LIKE THE PLAGUE!! 5 stars
1/08/05 keithers.. A great film from a one hit wonder of a director 5 stars
12/10/04 Kristina Williams the only movie where I didnt want Bullock to die. ONLY one. 4 stars
11/08/04 JFDGNMF GFYURY 5 stars
7/28/04 Daveman A fast paced genuine thrill ride, not seen one of those in a while 5 stars
7/13/04 Jamaal Thomas Hold On To Your Hats! This Is The Best Movie 5 stars
5/31/04 Nobody An excellent action flick! so what if it could never really happen? 5 stars
5/05/04 Denise Duspiva Fun 4 stars
5/04/04 Jack Sommersby Excepting its protracted finale, this is first-rate stuff (though Bullock is grating). 4 stars
4/26/04 Monster W. Kung Dumb to the bone trash for drooling morons. Garbage. 2 stars
2/08/04 ROY L. CAIN,JR. The movie's at the whim of a madman, Dennis Hopper. 5 stars
1/31/04 Liam McIntyre Bloody brilliant! 5 stars
1/10/04 kaz you gotta love it 5 stars
1/02/04 boom boom a pure piece of art 5 stars
12/14/03 Agent Sands The suspense, excitement, & filmmaking are all top-notch. 5 stars
12/07/03 john it's not Die Hard -it's not even 48 Hours - but it delivers a good time 4 stars
9/15/03 Priscilla action classic - view it if you want a good time 4 stars
9/12/03 Mr adventure pop quiz hot shot....(great line people=) 5 stars
5/19/03 Jareth Packed with action and intensity and very stylish too. 5 stars
3/13/03 Shadaan I loved it. DONT ASK ME WHY !!!!! 4 stars
3/02/03 Monster W. Kung Lame-brained American popcorn movie making at its worst. A piece of crap. 1 stars
2/04/03 Turtle It didn't really blow me away until the end, and then it took a turn toward the awesome. 5 stars
12/22/02 Shaun the action never stops! 5 stars
12/04/02 Jiz Good, but doesn't stand up to repeat viewings 4 stars
11/23/02 Charles Tatum The only Bullock film I like 5 stars
11/17/02 Nevz Very fast paced movie 4 stars
8/30/02 Interrog8 How can a movie be good when 1/2 of it is shot on a bus? I don't know, but it is. 5 stars
8/05/02 Grinder This is a ridiculous plot but not a funny move. Lame. 1 stars
8/02/02 I Can't Swim Like that bus would run w/a puncture in its gastank. Too many things like that ruined this 2 stars
7/22/02 ! Great 5 stars
7/13/02 R.W. Welch Carried a bit too far, but certainly a fun ride. 4 stars
3/18/02 Mary The most thrilling movie I saw. Sandra and Keanu are excellent. 5 stars
3/01/02 Chowie Pretty good, but then it's fucking brilliant if you compare it to number one 3 stars
2/28/02 Gracy Lionheart Hmm...action movies have little to do with reality...which is why I like them. 4 stars
2/07/02 Monster W. Kung Way too dumb and far-fetched action movie. 2 stars
8/09/01 E-Funk Jan De Bont's only good film. Very exciting and some pretty cool performances. 4 stars
8/04/01 K.C. Au That subway ride was unnecessary, but I liked everything on the bus. Very intense! 4 stars
7/28/01 Steve A pretty slow movie (90% of it's on that bus), but very smart and well thought-out. 3 stars
6/23/01 Justin Cheung Lot's of action, Keanu and Sandra gel well, this is a great flick 5 stars
6/15/01 Bada Bing Crosby Plot holes are large as the planet Earth; among the worse movies ever made 1 stars
6/11/01 I love movies overrated but not bad at all 4 stars
5/31/01 Stewart A pure adrenaline rush from start to finish. And it had a thrilling premise. 4 stars
5/01/01 R.W. Welch Ingenious plot premise, but it gets carried too far. 3 stars
4/19/01 Tam Well-paced, with lots of chemistry between Bullock and Reeves. 4 stars
2/16/01 Jake Hopper didn't disappoint 5 stars
1/09/01 Keanuette Gimme SPEED anytime of the day. KEANU ROCKS! He's such a Hunk! 5 stars
11/26/00 Cristopher Revilla good action flick, though not quite believable (especially at the end, you'll know what) 4 stars
8/13/00 Joyce constant action, no boring parts.. 5 stars
7/20/00 IBDN It is rare to see an action film of this quality. 5 stars
6/28/00 Naushad Khanji The most thrilling movie ever made.A model for others to follow.Absolutely First Rate. 5 stars
6/01/00 danilo excellent flick. would've been better had keanu and sandra shared more screen chemistry 4 stars
3/31/00 Bruce A fast paced, non stop action thriller 5 stars
3/22/00 Lame-Oh Best part if they had bitchslapped that Bullock scab 4 stars
2/07/00 steve layne It takes a while to get going, but when it does its awesome up until the far-fetched ending 4 stars
1/12/00 dr.d thrilling 4 stars
11/05/99 Anthony Ellis One of the best action movie of all-time. Just leave your brain at the door!! 5 stars
7/11/99 Daria One of the best action flicks ever. 5 stars
7/05/99 Ben Leostein Rating: *** (out of ****) Category: "Good" 4 stars
6/22/99 Elizaveta I actually fell asleep. 2 stars
6/03/99 lucas jackson theres only one good thing about this movie the bad guy,Dennis hopper 2 stars
11/25/98 Fred Keanu came millimeters away from fucking this up. 4 stars
11/17/98 Jules Y'all are whining about II but the original was not great shakes either.... 3 stars
10/18/98 Sailor Moon Ate My Balls Fun to watch, even the subway scene rocks 4 stars
9/14/98 Johny Acting is pretty amazing considering the stars 4 stars
9/06/98 Young Einstein Apart from defying gravity at times, this movie kicked all freckle. 5 stars
9/04/98 Badass A speedball of a flick! 5 stars
8/29/98 Mister Whoopee An outstanding action movie. Keanu was great, Sandra wasn't awful. 4 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  10-Jun-1994 (R)
  DVD: 07-Feb-2006

UK
  N/A

Australia
  02-Aug-1994 (M)


Directed by
  Jan de Bont

Written by
  Graham Yost
  Joss Whedon

Cast
  Keanu Reeves
  Dennis Hopper
  Sandra Bullock
  Joe Morton
  Jeff Daniels
  Alan Ruck



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