1994 was a year that saw many big films being released, some of those now permanent fixtures in the ‘Best Films of All Time’ collection. Rewinding back to the past, Speed enters the action film arena with Sandra Bullock, Keanu Reeves and Dennis Hopper leading the cast. With fresh faced, attractive, young actors, Speed appealed to both men and women globally meaning success was fairly achievable. During a time when terrorism was not thought of as the biggest threat to the US, Speed allows bombs to explode without any repercussions… per say.
Jack Traven (Reeves) and partner Harry Temple (Jeff Daniels) are called out to a scene in which a bomb has exploded beneath a packed elevator. The only way to keep the citizens safe is if the LA Police Department can pay the bomber $3.7 million. A unlikely sum of money any state government will have to give away, let alone to a madman. Whilst managing to pry the elevator doors open and pull the captive passengers out, Traven realises that the bomber is hiding in the elevator below. A scuffle takes place, resulting in his partner being shot in the leg and the bad guy escaping.
Cut to the future and a ceremony, in which Jack and Harry are being given medals congratulating them on their heroic acts and courageousness. The bad man, despite getting away, was stopped and LA is safe once again. Or so they think. Across town, Annie (Bullock) a LA resident with another failed driving test under her belt has to resort to public transport. This being the day she may have wanted to go green and walk. Around the corner Jack, hero cop, is in a coffee shop when he receives a call from the bomber. The bomber has stepped his game up, got hold of a LA bus and rigged a bomb to it. The catch – the bus is already on the move.
The Rules of Engagement: 1. No one gets on or off until the bomber says 2. The bus cannot stop or go slower then 50mph. With only a sum of money requested as a ransom and the number of the unfortunate bus, Jack sets off in search of it. The next hour is a combination of explosions, stunts and major ass kicking. Threats to the citizens of LA will not be tolerated when Jack Traven is in town.
The general plot of the film was quite unique, no other film before has been co-ordinated like Speed has been. This is a rarity in Hollywood these days, as they are now notoriously known to reproduce and reproduce until the entire world is sick of their lack of creativity (2012 and the revival of Snow White and the not so Seven Dwarfs).
Keanu Reeves, in my eyes, has never been an “action hero”. His strange quietness has always been unnerving; however the quote never judge a book by its cover definitely applies here. Reeves grasps the role with both hands and squeezes as much as possible out of it, bulking up, acting tough and being overly masculine. Men want to have his job, women want to have his babies. Keanu Reeves has never been praised in previous roles for his acting abilities as he can appear aloof and a little boring but Speed mixes this up 100%. Dennis Hopper who features throughout, is an old school pro, and picks up his villainous character instantly. Devious and pissed, both himself and Reeves have a volatile relationship.
Sandra Bullock is also a hit and miss actress. The film roles she makes a point in choosing do not do her any justice; however Speed gives her more integrity. The character she takes on is ditzy yet capable, which she nails. Speed doesn’t test her acting skills but it is highly entertaining. She brings an element of eccentricity and sarcasm to the film, whereas Reeves and Hooper bring the masculinity and anger. Long live the action film!
Originally published on ‘All in the Name of Film‘ website