Speed

Jan De Bont, USA, 1994, 116 minutes

In Hollywood a director becomes more embroiled in studio politics and assuaging the ego's of his stars than in the actual process of physically making the film. That is left to the cinematographer who in turn finds it easy to be promoted to the director's chair when a less-than-major project comes along. In this case the project was a Keanu Reeves vehicle with an unknown female star and a type-cast Dennis Hopper, the director was Jan De Bont (who photographed Basic Instinct and The Hunt For Red October) and the result was the sleeper hit of 1994.

Reeves plays an FBI (or is it SWAT? it doesn't matter) agent plagued by a psychopathic terrorist (guess who) with a likening for explosives in difficult-to-reach places. First it's a bomb in a lift; Reeves is successful, Hopper thwarted, but still at large. Then it's a bomb on a bus, programmed to detonate if its speed drops below 50 mph (this idea was nicked from an obscure Japanese novel called Bullet Train, by the way), sexy Sandra Bullock finds herself behind the wheel, and Keanu jumps aboard to save the day.

The action sequences are thoroughly thrilling and completely satisfying, Reeves and Bullock both go through the motions to collect their pay cheques and Hopper plays the madman to the hilt as expected.

Apparently it would have been cheaper for the authorities to have paid off the terrorist, but then we'd have had no film would we?

Review by Stephen Cox
Taken from EUFS Programme 1995-96