Shooty-Shoot score: 3/5
Kicky-Kick score: N/A
Boomy-Boom score: 4/5
Enjoy with: A very, very cold pale lager. Not super common in the UK, it’s mostly a Belgium thing, but a little google will give you a whole host of options. My go to is the Vedette Extra Blond, which is moderately easy to find and wonderfully refreshing. The trick is to chill a pint glass and the beer before drinking. Watching people drive is thirsty work. You’ll be guaranteed to feel parched without it.
Let me get something off my chest real quick. The film is called “Speed” because in the middle the baddie, Howard Payne (Denis Hopper), rigs an explosive to a bus’s speedy bit-thing that’s set to blow if the bus goes slower than 50mph. A cop, Jack Traven (Keanu Reeves), must find a way to defuse the bomb and save the hostages. The operative word here is middle.
The title, coupled with frequent cultural references, misleads people into thinking they don’t need to watch this film. Inspiring a whole hoard of dick swinging know-it-alls who are all, “I don’t need to watch it. I know what happens. Keanu Reeves can’t act and why’s Jeff Bridges* in it?”
Stop it. You don’t know this film. Tuck those dicks back in and shut up.
Speaking of dicks, I’m starving. So let’s go with a food analogy to describe this delectable feature. The bomb-bus dilemma is merely the thick chunk of meat in a club sandwich of dynamite suspense. Yes, as the main ingredient, it’s the biggest draw. Separating those who want to chew through a tough, salty centre from the ones who prefer to nibble on a delicate prawn salad. But it ain’t nothing but cold turkey without the other ingredients.
So what about the bread? Well, Payne is wonderfully written as a baddie with the know-how and flanks his ‘speed’ ploy with two slices of masterful villainy, smothered with big budget buttery boomy-booms. Trust me. If you like watching planes crash in Vegas, you’d love watching trains trash Hollywood.
Like all good club sandwiches, there’s also a refreshingly, tangy crunch in the middle. Traven’s partner, Harry Temple (Jeff DANIELS), runs about trying to locate Payne before his next unsavoury move. Cleverly done, the breadcrumbs that lead to Payne are satisfyingly unpredictable and seasoned with just the right amount of emotional drama to temper the adrenaline-fueled bus-caper.
The lettuce? Jack’s love affair with Annie Porter (Sandra Bullock). In charge of driving the bus to the max, Annie’s character also provides a crucial human element to the story. Cutting through Jack’s “Die Hard or go home” American cop attitude, she keeps her eye on the dial and wishes she was somewhere else. Together they zip along the highway but struggle to spice up their chemistry between automobile gymnastics and light terrorism. A little wet and frivolous, it might seem unnecessary in the mix. But love scenes, like the lettuce in most sandwiches, would be missed if they weren’t there.
Finally, the creamy white sauce to top it all off? Keanu Reeves takes care of that by gazing expectantly into the camera and triggering orgasms everywhere.
As delicious as this picture is, I’ll admit it’s far from perfect. For starters, Payne’s ransom demand in the movie makes a silly leap from $3 million to $3.7million. What the actual fuck is that about? What is $.7 mil going to do? Widen his budget for a new condo? For a guy who’s willing to blow people up for cash, this screams more Dr Evil than Hans Gruber. There’s also the issue that at its core it is still a 90’s action film where the white cis male saves the day and gets the girl. Serving up a one-dimensional super-human who never seems to get tired while ironically does get tiresome to watch.
At the end of the day, “Speed” delivers exactly what it says on the packet. It is a ready-to-go comfort food that’s guaranteed to be enjoyable and filling. Still not convinced? Well, you probably paid to watch Avatar in the cinema, so there’s no accounting for taste.
Certificate: 15– ways to make a club sandwich.
Dir: Jan de Bont
Writer: Graham Yost
Starring: Keanu Reeves, Jeff Daniels, Sandra Bullock, Dennis Hopper, Joe Morton
*it’s fucking Jeff Daniels. If you’ve never met anyone who’s confused these two actors, I’d like to trade lives.