A mad bomber with a vendetta against a young cop plants a bomb on a bus in L.A. The hero, with the help of a beautiful passenger, must diffuse the explosive device which is set to detonate if the bus slows to under 50 miles per hour. Academy Award Nominations: 3, including Best Film Editing. Academy Awards: 2, including Best Sound and Best Sound Effects Editing.
Everything clicked in this 1994 action hit, from the premise (a city bus has to keep moving at 50 mph or blow up) to the two leads (the usually inscrutable Keanu Reeves and the cute-as-a-button Sandra Bullock) to the villain (Dennis Hopper in psycho mode) to the director (Jan De Bont, who made this film hit the ground running with an edge-of-your-seat opening sequence on a broken elevator). This is the sort of movie that becomes a prototype for a thousand lesser films (including De Bont's lousy sequel, Speed 2: Cruise Control), but Speed really is a one-of-a-kind experience almost anyone can enjoy. --Tom Keogh, Amazon.com
Hold on tight for a rush of pulse-pounding thrills, breathtaking stunts and unexpected romance in a film you'll want to see again and again. Keanu Reeves stars as Jack Traven, an L.A.P.D. SWAT team specialist who is sent to diffuse a bomb that a revenge-driven extortionist (Dennis Hopper) has planted on a bus. But until he does, Jack and passenger Sandra Bullock must keep the bus speeding through the streets of Los Angeles at more than 50 miles per hour--or the bomb will explode.
The movie that transformed Keanu Reeves into a bona fide action hero, Speed was also former cinematographer Jan De Bont’s assured directorial debut. It’s an almost perfect high-concept movie that lives up to its title both in the adroit choreography of the action set-pieces and Graham Yost’s taut screenplay, which is admirably stripped of all padding.
De Bont further heightens the excitement by his use of authentic locations as the out-of-control bus travels through, across and--in one unforgettable scene--a few feet in the air above the urban sprawl of LA. And instead of relegating the love interest to a dull subplot, here Sandra Bullock is an integral part of the action as she and her bus career around the city at 50-plus miles an hour. Even the opening credits neatly illustrate the film’s title, as does composer Mark Mancina’s pulsing score. Sensibly, Reeves passed on the ill-advised sequel and took on The Matrix instead; both screenwriter and director have yet to do anything better than this.
On the DVD:Speed is the kind of movie that was made for the DVD format, and this two-disc special edition does it full justice. The feature is presented anamorphically in its original 2.35:1 ratio with spectacularly vivid Dolby 5.1 or DTS 5.1 options. Jan De Bont provides a commentary, though his solo effort is less engaging than that of chatty producer Mark Gordon and writer Graham Yost who enjoy constantly interrupting each other.
Disc 2 has lots of goodies, including mini-documentaries on the key action set-pieces with storyboards and multi-angle views of the major stunts. "Inside Speed" looks at various aspects of the production, from locations to stunts; production design and visual effects, plus reproducing all of Graham Yost’s original screenplay. There are individual interviews with the director and principal stars, a short selection of extended scenes and a brief deleted one; a photo gallery, plus a promotional menu in which there is a HBO "making of" featurette, TV spots, trailers, a press kit and Billy Idol’s music video. In all, a satisfyingly extensive package.--Mark Walker
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