Friday, March 14, 2008

95. Speed (1994)

Directed by Jan De Bont
Starring: Keanu Reeves, Sandra Bullock, Dennis Hopper, Jeff Daniels

There's no doubting Speed always had a good concept going -- the bus can't go under 50mph! Action! Drama! -- but it takes a lot to build upon that and make an excellent idea really stand up as a film. Unlike other action flicks of late, it doesn't get bogged down in its own foundations, its twists and turns well-placed and impacting. If movies are now more likely to be called rollercoaster rides, it's because of Speed, which takes the metaphor more literally than any other. The film is a thrilling journey, creating periods of tension and interaction between a group of people thrown together by chance, and providing narrative shifts to match its meandering vehicle.

Speed is definitely a formulaic film (what action film isn't, really?) but it manages its components so well, even delivering on the pockets of humour that often feel an unnecessary element of the genre. I'm thinking particularly of when Sandra Bullock thinks she has knocked over a baby, only for Keanu Reeves to re-assure her that the pram was occupied by nothing other than tin cans. Indeed, this is an attempt at wry humour in the face of an utterly absurd scenario, the characters' consideration of events that are so uncontrollable a reminder that these are real people, and not just pawns in a game of cat and mouse.

1 comment:

Jason said...

Great choice and write-up! A perfect example of an action film with enough gusto and creativity to tackle the genre conventions in an exciting way which makes for a thoroughly entertaining affair. Sandra Bullock has never been better in her role here.

I'm really digging your blog and this list so keep up the wonderful reviews. If you are interested, I am also working on a top 100 on my blog. Take care and I'll be keeping an eye out for more updates. :)