Justin Peterson’s review published on Letterboxd:
Speed could have easily just been a rip off of 'Diehard' on a Bus, but instead all the right pieces came together to make it one of the great race against the clock action movies.
"Pop quiz, hotshot. There's a bomb on a bus. Once the bus goes 50 miles an hour, the bomb is armed. If it drops below 50, it blows up. What do you do? What do you do?"
Quick Hits: (Spoilers)...
- Right from the opening credits this movie gets moving as it discreetly introduces us to the opening act taking place in an elevator shaft
- A huge part of the success of Speed, being this intense action movie is that incredible theme song. You would think a theme so simple would feel repetitive, but instead it is perfectly woven into the soundtrack during the most thrilling sections to get your heart racing
- Keanu Reeves is on fire in the lead role of Jack Traven, who is having to constantly think on his feet to kept people from getting killed by a crazy bomber
- Wow, Dennis Hopper was amazing at playing a madman. He is so threatening, but at the same time feels like he is in absolute control with these crazy bomb scenarios that he has rigged up
- It's great how the main theme of 'what would you do in a scenario', is introduced casually during the opening by Jack and his partner Harry played by Jeff Daniels, and carries throughout the entire movie with very little downtime
"All right, pop quiz. Airport, gunman with one hostage. He's using her for cover; he's almost to a plane. You're a hundred feet away... Jack? ... Shoot the hostage."
- The elevator scene in the opening just flies by ... and boom ... before you know it we are around 20 minutes in, and the main action situation has not even been introduced yet
- But before you know it we get his crazy big bus explosion ... and moments later Dennis Hopper is on the phone to deliver that iconic line that gives me those good movie chills every time. I would say that line rivals Liam Neeson's iconic phone quote from 'Taken'
- I have no idea how they were able to pull off filming this movie about a bus speeding through traffic in LA
- Then finally we get introduced to the amazing Sandra Bullock, who plays Annie, a woman who almost missed getting on this bus rigged with explosives
"So you're a cop, right? ... That's right ... Well, I should probably tell you that I'm taking the bus because I had my driver's license revoked ... What for? ... Speeding."
- Now let's back up a little to the part where Jack looks like a maniac as he demands to get on the bus. The process of just him getting on the bus and explaining what is going on, is an exciting whirlwind. I love how they frequently cut to a shot of the speedometer, which has us holding our breath once the bus finally reaches 50mph which triggers the bomb
- Sometimes you look at the bus and think there is no way it is going 50 miles an hour ... but the movie is so much fun that you just go with it as they manage to avoid obstacle after obstacle
- It was a great touch how that one guy on the bus thinks that the cop is after him, which leads to the bus driver getting shot and Annie having to take over
- Annie and Jack share some sweet moments together as he works to calm her down after each crazy situation ... like when she thinks she ran over a baby, and when the bus lifts up on one side during a wicked sharp turn
- Hey look its the guy from 'Ferris Bueller's Day Off'
- I am pretty sure a bus would not suddenly point upward in order to propel over a vast gap in the road. But I am still glad that part is in there because it allows for this long moment of dread for everyone on the bus who is desperately hoping for a miracle
- I did notice this time that Dennis Hopper's character talks to himself. But you buy it because we are so used to him talking to Jack on the phone ... plus he is crazy ... right?
"Interactive TV, Jack! Wave of the future - ha ha ha, huh?"
- It was an excellent story nuisance to make Hopper's character be a former bomb squad cop, that went nuts after thinking he got a raw deal. It makes it feel like both the heroes and the villain are on a level playing field with all these bombs
- As if we did not already get plenty of great moments, here comes Jack on a cart that is going under the bus to try and defuse the bomb. Which does not end well, when he accidentally punctures the gas tank in a struggle to hang on
- So I guess the Buses' tire got punctured going into the airport. And if that was the case, it takes an awfully long time for that tire to fall apart
- I am not sure if it would be possible for a TV microwave live truck to override the feed from the bus in order to trick Dennis Hopper. But it sure seems clever, and makes for a great moment once he figures out that they looped his feed
- I sure hope there were not any passengers on that plane that the explosive bus plows into, which makes an even bigger explosion!
- Then we get the first of two scenes where Jack and Annie romantically escape together, as they get off the bus by sliding away on the door to the buses' hatch on the floor
- Harry gets the ultimate 'oh shit' moment, when he realizes the bad guy's house they are invading has been rigged with explosives
- So then we wrap up the movie with Dennis Hopper's character managing to abduct Annie, and bring her on board a speeding subway train ... as if the movie had not already lived up to its namesake lol
- I am not sure why Jack thought that speeding up the train would help .... but whatever ... a super-fast train crashing is a better way to end the movie
- I wonder if they got a chance to go see '2001: A Space Odyssey' at the Chinese Theatre after they got done making out, after surviving the subway crash that landed them in the middle on Hollywood Blvd
It had been years since I last watched Speed, and despite it having a few parts that don't make sense, I think it still holds up as one of the best action movies of the early 90s.
Thanks for reading.
Happy movie watching ... Cheers!