Speed Special Edition


Every now and then an action movie comes along that changes the genre. Think Aliens, think Die Hard, think The Matrix. All are movies that shaped future directors' visions, ushered in new trends, dated past glories.

Speed is just such a movie. First off, it took the '80s phenomenon of the High Concept to its limit. Got your postage stamp ready? Then write this on the back of it: There's a bomb on a bus. If the bus drops below 50mph it'll blow up.

Then it gave us pretty boy Keanu Reeves as our hero, a SWAT team whiz kid who pits his wits against Dennis Hopper's crazed bomber. The missing link between the bulging biceps, grimy vests and sub-machine guns of Arnie and Sly and the slim, good-looking guys who use brain more than brawn in today's movies, Keanu was the first step on the road to a new breed of action hero. Likewise, Sandra Bullock's passenger-turned-bus-driver Annie is a resourceful, plucky heroine, a girl-next-door saviour who doesn't have to take on traditional male traits to win the day.

And finally, Speed did away with the belief that action movies should revolve around three or four money shots. Here, the whole movie is stunt after stunt, action sequence after action sequence, cliffhanger after cliffhanger, as cinematographer-turned-director Jan De Bont brutally ups the ante and hurls his camera about in a fit of controlled chaos.

Now if only they'd done away with that woefully superfluous final act...

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