Monday, March 3, 2014

1PanelReview Speed

"Die Hard in a Bus". Also known as "Keanu Reeves in a bus about to explode: The Movie".

What it is: Speed 

Which is: An action film
Directed by: Jan de Bont  
Year: 1994

Speed is a 1994 blockbuster film directed by Jan de Bont, starring Keanu Reeves, Dennis Hopper, Sandra Bullock and Jeff Daniels. It follows Keanu as a cop in L.A. after an ex-cop turned bomber. Keanu gets stuck in a bus with a bomb, full of hostages. I mean, who doesn't know this one?

What's Good about it: Speed! Dude, I mean, Speed, man! It's a timeless classic.
Basically Die Hard in a bus. I'd go as far to say that it's the only good Die Hard rip-off out there, the only one that can achieve a decent comparison with Bruce Willis' classic.
A SWAT Team saves some hostages from a trapped elevator. The madman gets angry at Keanu and decides to concoct the ultimate deathtrap, a bus with plenty of explosives and "movie rules". The bus can't slow down, speeding will arm the bomb, etc. Simple. Perfect. No wonder how many times I watch it, it never gets hold and is always as captivating as the first time.
The original screenplay actually went through numerous rewrites, by Joss Whedon no less! The final cut actually consists of about 98% Whedon-esque dialogues, the original screenwriter Graham Yost  went on to say he personally loved Whedon's stuff and never thought his original draft was that good.
The film was originally meant to be a Stephen Baldwin film, just a sub-par Die Hard rip-off. But once Jan de Bont got on board he changed everything for the better.
The film has a great rhythm, never losing a beat.
Every character is perfectly casted and memorable, from the bus passengers to the cops!
Sandra Bullock in her best role in my eyes!
Speed actually has a pretty smart plot with some pretty clever scenes.
It starts over-the-top from the first second Keanu's car arrive on screen, announcing that some laws of gravity might be ignored later on.
Speed was one of the rare pure action films to manage to score (several!) Academy Awards. And for a good reason!

What's Bad about it: What is this heresy? You dare ask me this?!
No seriously.
Alright, I'll bite. As creepy and menacing as Dennis Hopper was a villain.. I always thought both his plans and motivations were pretty... lacking, for lack of a better word? Did he simply want the money? That was the worst possible way to try getting some. (The police will never deal with a "terrorist", specially one with such crazy schemes) And 2 years spend on the elevator job, yet he came up with the whole more complex bus-scenario in a couple days? And did he just imagine he could get the money from a trash and mysteriously disappear without being either followed, tracked AND get real money after all this?
Jeff Daniels' useless death always gets me... Seriously. Wasn't he badly hurt from the "shoot at the hostage" thing at the beginning of the film? Why did he personally enter the house of a presumed bomber? Of course the guy would have a trap set in there... Sigh...

Overall: A timeless classic, a fantastic film with a great rhythm that never lets go for a second and a perfect pacing.

A lot of people see The Matrix as Keanu Reeves' defining role, or at least his most memorable best role. But I always preferred him as the though clean-cut cop with a chip on his shoulder in Speed.

Speed will always be the perfect example of a very fun terrifically enjoyable blockbuster done right. (why does Hollywood seem to have so much problem finding this formula back since then?!)
I give it: 2.5 / 3 Quacks!
[How does my Rating System work?]

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