Starring: Keanu Reeves, Sandra Bullock, Dennis Hopper
Director: Jan de Bont
Running Time: 116 mins
Speed is an American film about a young LAPD officer who must keep a city bus above 50 miles per hour in order to prevent a bomb secretly planted by a vengeful madman from detonating and killing a group of innocent hostages.
This film is a hell of a lot of fun! It’s a thrillingly fast-paced and action-packed adventure, which, despite having a totally preposterous plot, is still perfectly believable and wholly engrossing to watch. Also, there are a host of strong performances here on and off screen. Keanu Reeves and Sandra Bullock being hugely entertaining, and the directing and cinematography here is so good that it really heightens the tension all the way through.
Let’s start with the brilliant tension that this film creates. Basically, from the first second, you’re thrown into a mad crisis, and it effectively doesn’t let up right until the end. Better still, this film’s plot is almost totally unpredictable, and its constant suspense and high stakes really leave you biting your nails at every twist and turn.
The other surprising thing about this film is that, for a major Hollywood summer blockbuster, it’s got a very intelligent and coherent plot (for the most part). There’s a whole heap of mad escapades that happen on this rollercoaster of a bus ride, and even crazier ways that the cops try to work their way around them, and whilst that does have the potential to become totally preposterous, it’s still intelligible and intriguing to watch.
Despite that, there is one major issue with the plot. The first three-quarters of this film are brilliant: heart-pounding action at every second. However, the final act of the whole affair is a little bit silly in my opinion. I was amazed how I’d believed the previous hour and a half so honestly, but the ending to this film is just a bit of a cop-out, a totally repetitive, cheesy and Hollywood-ish finale that did annoy me quite a bit.
Anyway, away from the plot, the performances in this film are great. Keanu Reeves is fantastic in the central role, and a brilliant action hero, whilst Sandra Bullock, playing the screaming ‘damsel in distress’/action heroine was surprisingly never annoying, and always a joy to watch.
Meanwhile, there’s some stunning directing and cinematography here too. This film is full of your generic shaky cam shots to really emphasise the sense of crisis and make it a whole lot more exciting, but what this also does is goes beyond, and brings in a heap of brilliant, action-packed fast cuts to really up the pace of the story, which heightened the tension for me considerably, and that’s why this gets a 7.9.