The recent death of Dennis Hopper prompted me to go looking for one of his movies to review. Speed would not be the one which normally comes to mind, but many of his other roles are too emotionally draining for me to watch right now. I am sure I will get around to Apocalypse Now and Blue Velvet in due time. Easy Rider, probably not. We shall see.
Hopper plays Howard Payne, a former member of the Atlanta police’s bomb squad. He lot a finger in a mistake disarming a bomb and retired to California. Obviously, retirement did not suit him, because instead of taking up golf or fishing, he decides to plat bombs and demand ransom money for not setting them off.
When we first meet him, he has rigged an executive elevator full of people to blow. Keanu Reeves as Jack Traven and Jeff Daniels as Harry Temple rom the LAPD bomb squad respond. Jack rescues the hostages, then prevents Harry from eing taken by payne by shooting him in the leg.
How many lawsuits do we have here? Let me count them…
The initial action set up pits Traven against Payne as archenemies for the duration. Payne’s most extravagant plot for Traven to foil is placing a bomb on a bus set to explode if it goes less than fifty miles an hour. Naturally, the bus driver is taken out of the equation, so Traven has to recruit a passenger to keep them all alive.
This being Hollywood, the passenger is the most beautiful woman onboard. She happens to be Annie Porter a terrible driver in the. Porter is played by Sandra Bullock. This is the role that made her America’s sweetheart. Mine, too. She is a class act. Purrty, too.
The scenario sets up some of the wildest action sequences I have ever seen. May are grossly implausible. I knew a bus could never ump a fifty foot gap in the freeway, but ls fid enough open road in Los Angeles traffic to keep rolling at fifty mph in the first place, but I was so caught up in the white knuckle ride, I did nor care. Nor did it bother me to shift to a subway car held hostage. In some lesser movies, I would have considered that a tack on. Overkill. But here, it is all part of the fun.
Speed is a good movie. Keanu Reeves squandered his chance to use it as a launching pad for a career as an action star. There is a five year gap there before he found big success as Neo in The Matrix. But Sandra Bullock turns out all right. She is the real star of the film, anyway.
Rating: *** (out of 5)