Sunday, March 15, 2009

MOVIES: #17 Speed

I don't know of any people in the movie business that don't like Sandra Bullock. I worked with her (for but a single day) in one of her earliest movies, the made for TV, Bionic Showdown: The Six Million Dollar Man and Bionic Woman. Even then, still in her early twenties, she exhibited all the joie de vivre that made Speed such a hit in 1994.

It would have been easy to add her to this list for While You Were Sleeping, the movie that made most everybody in America fall in love with her. But I prefer the thrills, action and twists of the bus with a bomb in perpetual motion. There weren't any buses jumping gaps in roads in While You Were Sleeping! Let me also mention The Net, which I'm living the first part of, at least. But we are here to talk about Speed.

Speed is, in essence, a caper movie. The crook is a really funny and creative Dennis Hopper, and he's trying to earn some bucks as an extortionist. He's wired a bus full of people with a bomb that will be triggered if the bus slows to below 50 MPH. All he wants is some retirement money and a little revenge on the cop he thinks ruined his life. Keanu Reaves plays the cop, one willing to shoot THROUGH partner Jeff Daniels, to stop a suspect in the opening moments of the movie. Reeves is from just down the road in Georgetown, and this is his best 'adult' role, assuming you've seen him act like a juvenile in the Bill and Ted adventures.

The bus is packed with the usual gang of faceless people ... and Bullock. She plays Annie Porter, who emerges from the pack to become the driver when events create the need for a new driver. She's inexperienced, but takes to the big wheel like a pro. She corners, rides the meridian and jumps the bus over gaps in highways that would make Evel Knievel blanch. And she looks pretty doing it.

In the meantime, Reeves is busy tangling verbally with Hopper and trying to get ONTO the bus. He succeeds in the derring-do and then helps the bus riders create their own mid-traffic get-off stop. It's all quite thrilling.

Lastly, Reeves sees through the smokescreen caused by the day's festivities and engages Hopper in a one-on-one duel that ends appropriately.

Reeves wasn't the only Canuck involved. The writer was Graham Yost and it was his launching pad in Hollywood. Prior to that, Yost, the son of Elwy Yost, the host of TVOntario's Saturday Night at the Movies for decades, was a TV writer of some nondescript shows.

NOTE: While I heartily recommend Speed, the less said about the sequel, the better. Really, REALLY BAD. You've been warned.

No comments: