All reviews were originally written for The Columbus Guardian weekly newspaper between 1992 and 1994 and DreamWatch Magazine 1995 to 1997. All copyrights owned by the author.
Tuesday, September 30, 2008
Is the typical Schwarzenegger movie too complex for ya? Do you like your screenplays to resemble a news report from the Indy 500? Do you suspect that Keanu Reeves could be the new Brando, if he ever learned to act? If your answer to any of these questions is yes, then this movie is just your Speed.
Hi-octane action is the main ingredient of this mindless thriller that delivers the mindless goods and threatens to be the surprise, mindless hit of the summer. Speed has so much action that it doesn't have any room for a plot. It hardly has any room for the actors. Heck, its makers were barely able to squeeze in all of the vehicles they smash up. What do you want, dialogue?
Reeves (in a wooden performance) plays an LAPD cop who likes grunge fashions and unusual solutions to crisis situations. Shooting all of the hostages is one of his bright ideas. Shooting his own partner (Jeff Daniels) is another good one. Given the LAPD's track record, he could eventually make chief of police.
Dennis Hopper (in a lazy performance) plays a brilliant, but deranged, bomb expert who's out to blackmail the city. That's why he has wired a crosstown bus to explode if its speed drops below 50 m.p.h. Actually, his plan makes no sense, since we're talking about Los Angeles, where nobody uses public transportation. But Hopper really needs the money — given the amount of equipment he's using, he owes Radio Shack some big bucks.
But Speed isn't about actors. It's about large-scale, metal-wrenching mayhem, as we demolish assorted elevators, buses, cars, airplanes, subway trains and several bystanders. Speed is about fabulously filmed carnage (first-time director Jan DeBont is a noted cinematographer), ludicrous stunts and existential sarcasm.
Speed has no illusions about itself, as it throttles the audience with it's charged craziness. It may even be the definitive junk movie of the summer.