When a terrorist rigs a city bus with a bomb that will explode if
it dips under 50 mph, a young cop tries to save the passengers.
Directed by Jan de Bont
Written by Graham Yost
Starring Keanu Reeves, Dennis Hopper, Sandra Bullock,
Joe Morton, Jeff Daniels, Alan Ruck, Carlos Carrasco
Oscar Wins - Best Sound Mixing, Best Sound Editing
Oscar Nominations - Best Film Editing
Every action thriller from the 1990's looked and felt exactly the same, from Con Air to GoldenEye. Yet, there's something we like about them. Maybe it's the unyielding sense of optimism and the knowledge that no matter how bad it seems to get, the good guy's gonna win. Regardless, it's films like Speed that helped define the action genre of the times. For a film starring a cheesy Keanu Reeves, a super cheesy Dennis Hopper, and Sandra Bullock doing her thing, it's a miracle by the grace of God that this didn't completely suck. On the contrary, it's a wildly enjoyable thrill ride that's unpredictable and smart. And of course, it's loaded with primo 90's corniness.
The premise sounds so ridiculous, but by God it works. A crazy terrorist (Hopper) straps a bomb under a bus that will detonate if the bus dips under 50 mph or if anybody tries to get off. Hotshot cop Jack Traven (Reeves) jumps onto the bus while on the highway in an incredible series of stunts, hoping that he can defuse it before all hell breaks loose. It's crazy to watch this previously non-threatening bus become a literal ticking time bomb as it tears through downtown L.A. rush hour traffic. The stuntwork and special effects team on this film were the real heroes. Without them, this never would've been half as good as it was. The performances are silly as hell, but you don't mind it because you like the characters. It's a rare occurrence but it does happen.
I was completely floored by Speed. I didn't expect such an entertaining and fun action thriller, but I've been wrong before. With believable heroes and crazy, ego-maniacal villains, Speed is a gem from '94 that can be enjoyed again and again because it's a well-oiled machine. Great script, unpredictable scenarios, and a satisfying ending. In the end, that's really all you need for a good action flick and Speed gives you all that and more.