As you can guess from the name of my blog “M for Marvelous” (-> Marvel -> Iron Man/The Avengers-> superheroes…that kind of stuff), I am the type of person that loves a challenge! Admittedly, saving the world in a flashy suit might not exactly be my forte, so I usually tend to go for something that is not so out of my league – writing about movies, for example. As a result, I decided to participate in Nostalgiathon 2012! The challenge there? To watch a movie I used to love as a child, and assess it from an adult’s perspective this time around.
I want to note, however, that it was extremely difficult for me to think of a movie that I really liked in my childhood and then just stopped watching. All my favourites, including Disney movies, Home Alone, Bad Boys, The Mummy, The Mask, Men in Black, The Matrix etc, have been continuously re-watched ever since my childhood up to nowadays, so I didn’t consider them appropriate for the occasion. And then it hit me – Speed, the 1994 action film about a bomb-strapped bus rushing through L.A at 50 mph.
So, what were the reasons for me to be that fond of it as a child? Well, firstly, it starred my biggest celebrity crush from ages 8 to 15 – Keanu Reeves. I know, I know…he is not the best actor ever, but boy, was he hot in the 90s! Secondly, I found the film extremely thrilling and entertaining with all the speeding and the impossible stunts going on. Last but not least, the movie did not forget to introduce a love story and what else would a little girl enjoy more in a film than a bit of romance?
So, for the purposes of Nostalgiathon 2012, I watched Speed again a couple of days ago, and here is my verdict!
Speed (1994) review
In the past 20 years there has been an overabundance of runaway fast-paced action movies resembling Speed (Under Siege 2 (1995), Money Train (1995), The Taking of Pelham 123 (2009), Unstoppable (2010), Source Code (2011) to name a few). Fortunately, some of them did make up for the deficiencies Speed once overlooked. Yet, if, in the interest of fairness, we discard newer movies due to the benefits of better technology and bigger budgets, and consider Speed in the film industry context of 1994, the movie still delivers a good dose of exhilarating popcorn entertainment.
The feature proves to be a wild ride which goes from 0 to 50 in a matter of minutes and rarely pauses for break. So, if you are an old-school action lover, this movie is definitely for you! Admittedly, its absolutely simplistic and minimalistic approach with regard to story line and plausibility might throw some audiences back. These viewers would immediately condemn the film as ‘mindless’ and ‘ridiculous’. Yet, once you have wrapped your head around the fact that this is (literally and metaphorically) straight-to-the-chase type of entertainment that discourages questions about where things are going, you can buckle up and just enjoy the ‘thrill express’ Speed is. Indeed, the accelerated pace creates such a breathtaking and gripping atmosphere, that most viewers would be inclined to overlook the irrationalities, the plot holes and the one-dimensional characters. Moreover, having the director’s chair occupied by acclaimed cinematographer Jan de Bont, who has been around the action genre block more than once with movies like Die Hard (1988), The Hunt for the Red October (1990) and Lethal Weapon 3 (1992), serves as a guarantee for stunning cinematography and spectacular special effects (even by today’s standards).
With regard to the acting, all the characters are delivered in a decent manner as far as the purposes of this film go. Keanu Reeves flexes muscles and cracks charming smiles where appropriate as the protagonist – hot-shot policeman Jack Tavern. Although he is not at his best during the slow-down moments (bear in mind there are very few of those), he proves to be perfectly moulded for the ‘speedy’ episodes like sliding under the speeding bus to examine the bomb or engaging in hand-to-hand combat on the top of a subway train. He is forgiven then, since speed is the point of the movie after all! As for the rest of the cast, Sandra Bullock is extremely charismatic as cheeky sidekick/love interest Annie, while Dennis Hopper delivers a delightfully creepy and terrifying villain in the face of mad bomber Howard Payne.
Speed is one of those rare occasion movies that encompass not only the main idea of the film, but virtually the whole story in the title. The array of non-stop brilliantly designed action sequences hints that breathtaking speed is indeed the central character here. Unfortunately, the film runs out of steam in the third act, where an unnecessary repetitive situation drags the movie along, but as long as Keanu & Co. stay on the bus, the excitement and entertainment are at the highest gear. That being said, more profound feature lovers might judge the film for being shallow and unrealistic. Yet, if you kick back and let yourself enjoy the totally undemanding Oscar-nominated and Oscar-winning visual and sound spectacle, you will undoubtedly be in for a treat!
4/5 Marvelous points