Shiny Shelf


By Jon de Burgh Miller on 08 November 2002

There’s a bomb on a bus, and if it slows down it blows! What a fantastic high-concept for a movie, and how wonderfully executed too. Speed is one of the definitive films of the 1990s. One of several films that tried to fill the void left by James Bond and provide smart, sexy action films that gave lots of bang for the buck, the release of a Special Edition DVD of this movie is rather exciting.

Keanu Reaves’ Jack Traven is a cool calm LAPD cop who manages to face danger at every turn wihout getting too emotionally involved or losing his rag. And then he meets Annie (Sandra Bullock), a failed driver who just happens to be on the wrong bus at the wrong time. While Reaves is fairly cardboard (as always), Bullock’s character is played with zest and energy, and surprisingly the chemistry between the two is very strong.

Some of the most spectacular set pieces and ‘what happens now’ moments in the history of cinema surround the development of their relationship, a relationship born in the chaos caused by a series of bomb threats masterminded by terrorist Howard Payne (Dennis Hopper). Hopper is as chilling as always when playing evil characters, and never sinks to the ‘it’s only a dumb popcorn movie’ sleepwalk-acting so many big name actors sink to when playing this sort of role.

It’s not just the actors who get to shine here. The technical proficiency of the Speed crew is remarkable. The big bangs, the model/CGI work, and the superb sound editing (get out that subwoofer) really gel together well to perfectly complement a disciplined and taut screenplay that cracks along at a hair-raising pace.

With such an excellent script, Jan de Bont’s sharp direction, a cool central concept, likeable and empathic central characters (something modern films seem to forget to include so often), some of the best sound editing of any 90s film and some bloody massive explosions, Speed is definitely one of the smartest, slickest and sexiest action films ever.

The film on its own would be appealing enough, but crammed with commentaries, documentaries, multi-angle effects tests, featurettes and numerous other extras, this DVD is a must-buy package for any action fan.

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By Jon de Burgh Miller

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