Speed

Speed ★★★★

It's easy to forget that the primary "bomb on a bus" story is bookended by two independently fantastic action sequences. The elevator hostage sequence in the first act and the subway finale are both top notch. I've written ad nauseum about how much I love the way cinematographer Jan De Bont uses the camera as a neck-yanking storytelling device. His directing projects-- while not quite as kinetic as when he's under John McTiernan's employ-- rock out in the same fashion. Say what you will about Twister, it's shot and edited with vicious precision.

There's something really nifty about our introductions to Hopper and Reeves. The opening title sequence is a super long shot of a descending elevator. The camera passes by a number of metal beams as it moves through the shaft, but I don't think there are any cuts. I think we're in an actual elevator shaft that's been beefed up with some good lighting. Anyway, at the very, very bottom of this descent is our villain. It evokes the devil, no question. In contrast, Reeves literally drops out of the sky in one of those quintessential "how the hell did that car get that much air?" action moments. He just arrives from on high like a badass, gum smacking angel.

The supporting players are on point. The bus ensemble featuring Alan Ruck and Beth Grant are all well-defined types. Jeff Daniels is an unexpected casting choice for the classic cop partner, yet he's completely believable in the role and gets a lot of quality physical action to undertake in the first act. Hopper chews the scenery with just as much overt bad guy nastiness as he did in Waterworld. Sandra Bullock is divine. Almost 25 years later, it's no wonder the entire world fell in love with her after Speed. She gets to be funny, strong, and sensitive and nails every beat.

No, it doesn't make sense that a bus could maintain 50mph for one hour anywhere in Los Angeles at any time of day. No, it doesn't make sense that Hopper too 2 years to hatch his elevator bomb scheme and only a week or two to pull off the bus job. But Speed is such a fun ride that any logic and reason is willingly set aside. That's not an easy thing to earn.

I absolutely love the music when Keanu and Sandra go sliding into the orange cones.

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