Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Speed (1994)

Oh, Sandra Bullock, the places you'll go after Speed.

I'll be honest, Sandra. I don't even remember, let alone buy a ticket, to your first films such as Hangmen (1987) and A Fool and His Money (1988). Religion, Inc. and Who Shot Patakango (both 1989)? Ditto. Did these releases even play in St. Catharines when I was attending Brock University? What kind of wide release did they get? Were they released?

The American remake of The Vanishing and Demolition Man (both 1993) I'm thinking, must have been definite step ups for you.

But, Sandra, do you have a special place in your Academy Award-winning heart for summer blockbuster Speed?

Sure, there are gaps in logic and common sense you could drive, well, a bus through, but Speed is still great fun. You're a big part of that enjoyment, even though I doubt you could handle a speeding bus with such dexterity.

And how about you, Keanu Reeves? Do you have good memories of this film? Surely it's a career highlight for you along with the original Matrix and Ted and Bill's Excellent Adventure.

I admit, it's kind of funny to hear you do your best Clint Eastwood impression growling your lines as Los Angeles police officer Jack Traven. You're buff in this film, Keanu. Love the close cropped hair.

Jeff Daniels and you don't make typical police buddies, but there's some neat problem solving going on when you get called to an office tower to help folks caught in an express elevator. That's when we get to meet Howard Payne (Dennis Hopper), a former police bomb expert with a huge grudge against men and women who walk the thin blue line. He wants $3 million to not kill the people in that lift, until Traven and Daniels' Harry Temple figure out a way to save the day.

Their life-saving efforts irk Payne, who bounces back a few months later with a new ploy. Give him marks for creativity. He's stashed a bomb on a city bus. It'll activate once the bus hits 50 miles an hour. If the bus odometer drops below that mark, it blows up.

Annie Porter (Bullock) is a regular commuter on that bus after her licence was suspended for speeding (nice touch). "I miss my car," notes Porter. She ends up in the driver's seat after driver Sam (Hawthorne James) is shot.

Travern wants to save everyone on the bus. Payne will kill them if he doesn't get his ransom in three hours. Temple, recovering from an injury from his first encounter with Payne, works from the office and the field to pinpoint the bomber's identity and defuse the bomb.

Screenwriter Graham Yost, in his feature-film debut, keeps throwing in wrinkles to challenge Annie and Traven. A punctured gas tank, pedestrians, a freeway not completely built and bus passengers fearing death all help keep tension high.

There's some good zingers and jokes along for the ride.

Payne to Traven: "Do not attempt to grow a brain."

Bus passenger Stephens to Traven: "Did you have any luck with the bomb?"

Traven: "Yeah, it didn't go off."

Don't think too hard when watching Speed. It'll spoil the fun.

Sandra, I like to think of Speed as an early run of Gravity. The tension is cranked up even more for that great film. Congratulations on going from films no one saw to becoming a Hollywood superstar.

RATING: 8/10

FUN FACTS: Billy Idol sang the title song. Lyrics include "Speed, speed, give me what I need."

Yes, Alan Ruck was Matthew Broderick's buddy in Ferris Bueller's Day Off. Jumpin'! He was 29 when he made that film in 1986.

Hey, that's Joe Morton, from The Brother From Another Planet as Capt. McMahon. Didn't recognize him at all.

Hawthorne James made his film debut in Disco Godfather.

1 comment:

Phil Hubbs said...

Nice review :)
Personally I dislike Bullock, ugh! she is too wet!