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Overall Rating

Awesome: 37.61%
Worth A Look48.72%
Average: 5.13%
Pretty Bad: 5.13%
Total Crap: 3.42%

5 reviews, 87 user ratings

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Speed (1994)
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by Scott Weinberg

"Solid action flick; fantastic DVD presentation from Fox' Five-Star Division"
4 stars

When you think about the modern classics of the action genre, you're talking mainly about movies that were huge hits before being ripped off, sequelized, and essentially cannibalized to death in a non-stop barrage of low-minded carnage and pointless explosions.

Movies like Lethal Weapon, First Blood, Die Hard, Robocop, Predator, The Terminator, and of course Speed have been ransacked (quite often by the original filmmakers desperate for a quick cash transfusion) to the point of absurdity, and it creates a back-handed compliment of sorts. A few great films get lumped in among a gaggle of lesser films and outright hack jobs. (Iím of the opinion that if Die Hard, Robocop, First Blood, Speed, and Lethal Weapon had never spawned their generally obnoxious sequels, these films would be remembered as true modern classics - as opposed to simply being considered 'good action flicks'.)

I came up with this theory while discussing Speed with a few friends. "Is that the one with the boat?" one of them asked me before the other responded with "No, that's Under Siege, man." It took both of them about seven movies (including a few bizarre choices like Down Periscope and Species) before they remembered the bit about "the bus that couldnít slow down" and responded that 'yeah, that one was pretty good, too'. Well, maybe I just have some really dumb friends, but itís a shame that Speed could ever be mistaken for Passenger 57 or (gasp) Speed 2. (I think maybe it's just the 'two dumb friends' theory.)

Fortunately, you can now appreciate the kinetic brilliance of Jan de Bont's Speed in glorious DVD fashion, as Fox Home Video has returned to this title and spruced it up with their swanky (and always-satisfying) "Five-Star Collection". (Those familiar with the Five-Star treatment Fox gave to movies like Independence Day, Die Hard, and The French Connection will no doubt be salivating to get their hands on this fantastic 2-disc set.) Aside from the addictively entertaining movie, this package delivers a stunning amount of goodies to pick through. Fans of special features will have a field day with this set, but the movie's the thing.

Speed is not about elaborate or deep storytelling:

Act I - SWAT agents Jack Traven (Keanu Reeves) and Harry Temple (Jeff Daniels) butt heads with Howard Payne (Dennis Hopper), a manic ex-cop who effectively holds an elevator full of hostages. Quick thinking, dumb luck, and outright balls prevent Howard from claiming any lives, and the evil bastard apparently blows himself up while attempting escape. Jack and Harry are heroes, right up until...

Act II - While enjoying his morning coffee, Jack watches as a city bus explodes in a fiery inferno. As the fireball dies down, the confused agent hears a pay-phone ringing... itís Payne! Heís alive after all! Not only has the aggravated terrorist just killed an innocent bus driver, but heís also rigged another bus to go boom. The hook - one of the most satisfyingly simple hooks in the history of modern action flicks - is that the bus must stay above 50 miles per hour if it wants to remain earthbound. Jack gets onto the bus and meets up with the quirky Annie (Sandra Bullock) who must take control of the careening bus when the suitable driver ends up on the wrong end of a wayward bullet. All sorts of illogical - yet cinematically delicious - cliffhangers and close calls pop up, before weíre jettisoned off to...

Act III - Jack and Annie find themselves aboard an out-of-control subway car while Payne cackles maniacally and threatens to blow everyone to kingdom come.

The plotline may be a bit skimpy, but everything else in Speed screams quality. The numerous action sequences are crisp, massive and altogether invigorating, Mark Mancinaís score is urgent and exciting, the acting performances are uniformly satisfying (yes, even Keanu), and the screenplay displays some wit without overdoing the cutesy stuff. (Iíll admit that the whole "Pop Quiz, Hotshot" schpiel got a bit tiresome after a while, but Sandy Bullock balances that mild deficiency - and a few others - with her entirely adorable presence.)

If Speed seems to lack a certain rational logic or sense of actual reality... well, thatís because it does. You can gripe all you like about how a bus could never jump a fifty-foot chasm, or that a bus could never stay over 50mph while slamming into 25 cars in succession, but then youíd be robbing yourself of the sheer mindless joy of a movie like Speed. If I want to see a forum in which physics always apply, Iíll look out my front window. For pure gee-whiz movie mayhem, very few action flicks speed along like, well, Speed. Not only is this flick (de Bont's debut, and easily his finest effort) a taut and wonderfully-crafted adventure thriller, but Speed has some of the highest 'rewatchability factor' I've ever witnessed in an action flick.

Great action movie in a superlative new DVD package. It's at this point that I'd usually say "Speed out to get it!", but I respect my readers more than that. If you dig this movie half as much as I do, youíll want to own this DVD.

The "Five Star Collection" DVD Special Features includes: Full-length audio commentaries: Track 1 with director Jan de Bont; Track 2 with producer Mark Gordon and screenwriter Graham Yost. "Action Sequences": Bus Jump Featurette (9:37), Metrorail Crash Featurette (6:17), Five Interactive Multi-Stream Storyboards, Four Interactive Multi-Angle Stunt Presentations, Inside Speed: On Location Featurette (7:17), Stunts Featurette (12:08), Visual Effects Featurette (9:13), Original Screenplay (text), Production Design (text w/artwork), Interview Archive: Keanu Reeves, Sandra Bullock, Jeff Daniels, Dennis Hopper, Jan de Bont, Image Gallery: Hundreds of photos sorted by scene and category, Promoting Speed: Trailer, ten TV spots, HBO First Look (24:09), Billy Idolís "Speed" Music Video, Press Kit Production notes Easter Egg: Alternate "airline version" of the bus explosion. Accessible through the DVD credits screen.

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originally posted: 05/04/04 10:45:23
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User Comments

9/13/17 morris campbell a killer rush 5 stars
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
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
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
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  10-Jun-1994 (R)
  DVD: 07-Feb-2006


  02-Aug-1994 (M)

Directed by
  Jan de Bont

Written by
  Graham Yost
  Joss Whedon

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

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