I do enjoy action movies when they are entertaining even when the plots aren't that strong. Speed is one of those movies that I ended up really enjoyed even though it did have some problems.
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An unidentified man was holding a group of people hostage in an elevator that he had rigged with bombs in a high rise in Los Angeles. The SWAT team was called in. Jack Traven and Harry Temple managed to rescue the hostages before having an encounter with the bomber that didn't go well. Jack and Harry were given awards and the bomber was believed to be dead.
The morning after the award ceremony, the bomber struck again, blowing up a city bus and then contacting Jack. The bomber said that there was a bomb on another bus that would be armed once the bus reached 50 MPH. If the bus dropped below that speed or if anyone tried to get off after the bomb was armed, it would go off. The bomber did tell Jack which bus it was and Jack was able to get on the bus. He started trying to figure out how to stop the bomb while keeping all the passengers safe. Annie, one of the passengers, took over driving after the bus driver was injured.
When Speed started, some time was taken to set up the situation with the elevator and introduce Jack, Harry, their boss and the bomber before getting to the main focus of the bomb on the bus. The plot was very straightforward and really not complicated at all. It still made for an entertaining movie. It was just meant to be a mindless action movie that wouldn't make the audience think. There wasn't an attempt to try to put any sort of message or moral in the story.
There was a lot of action throughout Speed, starting within the first few minutes with the elevator. The action really picked up once Jack found out about the bomb on the bus. He was very determined to get on that bus and he went to some extreme measures to do that and deal with the situation. The speeding bus was featured in most of the scenes, and there were times when it caused crashes or hit things. Obviously there were some explosions since a bomber was involved in what was going on. I did think that the action scenes were done well and helped to keep things interesting. A small amount of violence turned up in a few scenes that wasn't overly graphic. The movie was rated R for the action, violence, and many uses of the word that rhymes with luck. Some humor was added in a few scenes through things a few characters said that did help to lighten the mood a bit and keep things from being overly serious.
There were several times when the bus was in some danger from something other than the bomb and that did add a bit of suspense to a few scenes without making the movie suspenseful overall. I thought the movie was rather predictable overall, something that tends to happen in many action movies. I wasn't bothered by that because the movie was entertaining enough to keep me interested in what was going on. The motivations of the bomber and exactly who he was provided a small amount of mystery that was resolved before the final conclusion of the movie. New problems kept popping up for Jack to deal with, like an issue with the freeway they were on. It did seem like too many of those type of problems where thrown in so that basically everything that could go wrong did in an attempt to keep the tension cranked up. That did detract from what small amount of believability the movie did have. It also seemed like the ending dragged out a bit longer than it needed to, again, probably to keep the tension up.
There was basically no development for any of the characters in Speed, something that does tend to happen in action movies. Jack was rather flat despite being the main character. He was a member of the SWAT team and didn't have a problem doing some extreme or dangerous things to deal with situations. He had a bit of a cocky attitude but was good at his job. Keanu Reeves was fine, though far from anything special in the part. He didn't impress me with his acting in this movie. He did seem to fit the part a bit better than some others he's played, but he was still kind of stiff or wooden in some scenes and seemed to resort to yelling more than was really needed.
Jeff Daniels didn't have as much to do as Harry since he wasn't in as much of the movie. He and Jack were working together to deal with the bomber at the beginning of the movie. When everything with the bus started happening, Harry was at the station and he seemed to be coordinating work there to try to discover who the bomber was. Captain McMahon was in charge of the SWAT team. He and various other members of the SWAT team were attempting to help Jack find a way to deal with the situation. Joe Morton was fine in the part.
Annie was the only passenger who had much to do. She started off being a bit outspoken and it was clear that she wasn't overly happy about riding the bus in general anyway. She took over driving the bus and managed to remain mostly calm while in a dangerous situation. Sandra Bullock was fine in the part and made a likable character. This part and the one she played in Demolition Man really launched her career. There were several other people on the bus, most who weren't focused on at all. The bomber, who was later identified as Howard, was a mystery until later in the movie. He was willing to resort to violence to get what he wanted and did seem to be a bit mad. Dennis Hopper handled the part well, though he did go slightly overboard a few times.
Sandra Bullock - Annie
Jeff Daniels - Harry
Dennis Hopper - Howard
Joe Morton - Captain McMahon
Keanu Reeves - Jack Traven
Jan de Bont - Director
I recently picked up Speed on DVD for $5.00 at Wal-mart. The disc has the widescreen version of the movie. I'm not sure if there is a full screen version as well. I remember that there was a two disc version released a few years ago that had several extras, but since I don't have that one, I don't know what those extras might be.
Speed is a good action movie that is very entertaining. It is a good choice for people in the mood for a mindless action movie.
Sandra Bullock Movie Reviews
Demolition Man ~ Miss Congeniality ~ Miss Congeniality 2: Armed and Fabulous ~ Murder by Numbers ~ Practical Magic ~ Premonition ~ Two Weeks Notice ~ The Vanishing ~
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