This movie was pretty fucking deep, you guys. That is why I have not written in a week. It is because I have been PROCESSING.
Speed is about a man named Keanu Reeves, who is a brave cop but a terrible driver. He first appears in the movie flying over the San Francisco pavement to get to a hostagey bomby kind of situation. By "flying," I do not mean "driving quickly." I mean that he is airborne, in violation of the laws of God and man. Anyway, Keanu Reeves can't be great at everything. He shows up at a skyscraper with his partner Jeff Daniels, and they're sent to figure out how a crazy terrorist (Dennis Hopper) is planning to kill a bunch of people in an elevator. Their job, again: figure out what Dennis Hopper is doing. But Keanu's all, "Let's fix this ourselves, right now, just the two of us, because that is how hostage situations are resolved: with cranes and jumping." SPOILER ALERT: it is good that he goes all rogue on the saving-people portion of the evening but stupid that he tries to go after Dennis Hopper without reinforcements. As far as I can tell? Anyway, it doesn't really work out. Dennis Hopper gets Keanu to shoot Jeff Daniels, escapes in an explosion, and now has a shiny new vendetta against Our Hero.
The rest of the movie: Dennis Hopper blows up a bus, calls Keanu to tell him about another bus that will blow up if… you know the rest. Keanu tries to get to the bus before it reaches 50 mph, but he sucks, so then he has to jump onto the bus and keep it above 50. The driver gets shot, which means someone else has to drive! Will it be Keanu? As we all know, a fundamental rule of drama is that if Chekhov's Terrible Driver is placed on the wall in act one, he must drive terribly in act two. But no, disaster averted: Sandra Bullock drives instead. So we have bus shenanigans for a while (featuring Beth Grant!), and then the movie wraps up with a train thingy, okay done.
Before I saw Speed, I'd only heard about the crazy driving parts, not the elevator and train set pieces. There's a reason for that: the bus is the fun part of Speed. I don't know why the other bits go on so long, honestly. This movie is two hours, which seems pretty long for an action movie that should be 90 minutes.
The characters: Officer Keanu Reeves is such a dick. My goodness. He is always saying things like "C'mon, Jeff Daniels, save my life," when ostensibly he should be most worried about the ten or fifteen civilians on the bus with him (and also Jeff Daniels has his own shit to worry about, you know?). Plus at the beginning, he suggests shooting (hypothetical) hostages to "take them out of the equation."
Dennis the Terrorist Menace confused me. He says shit that's supposed to be intimidating but isn't particularly. I mean, he's trying to blow up a dozen people. He's intimidating. But nothing is added by lines like, "It's getting on to 11 A.M., and I think it's going to be a very pretty day. HAHAHAHAHA!" Okay? Okay, I guess, Dennis Hopper. A solid B-.
Sandra "Driverface" Bullock brings the charm, of course. I liked that she was the bus driver. She helped save everybody, you guys! But then OF COURSE we can't leave well enough alone; Keanu, who has already saved her by SPOILER ALERT getting people off the bus, has to save her harder on a train. Ugh. Apparently Joss Whedon was a script doctor for Speed, and he overhauled the end, so what the hell, dude. I expect better from you. ANYWAY: none of that was Sandy's fault. In the hilarious words of an IMDB commenter: "Sandra is a delight to watch as well as hear - she has a voice you literally can wrap yourself up in." Perhaps not, but a fine performance nonetheless.
But, hands down, the two best characters: the Out-of-Towner (Alan Ruck) and Ortiz (Carlos Carrasco). The Out-of-Towner is, as you'd expect, a white-bread middle America kinda guy visiting L.A. for the first time and look what happens to him. Ortiz is the laconic Angeleno sitting next to him. Their chemistry is fan-fucking-tastic. Out-of-Towner says shit like, "Your tax dollars are paying [police] salaries! If we die, they gotta take a pay cut!" and Ortiz is all "LULZ O'CLOCK." Speed is pretty fun, but it would have been a MODERN CLASSIC if these two had been the main characters. An odd couple story about two wacky dudes stuck on a bus that might blow up! WHAT A GREAT MOVIE.