Speed (1994)

(Third viewing, On TV, October 1998) This is still, after several viewings, a devastatingly effective piece of action cinema. Cleverly (if not exactly smartly) written by Graham Yost and marvellously directed by Jan de Bont, Speed understands the dynamics of an action movie, and keeps on delivering what the viewer wants. Great performances by Keanu Reeves and Sandra Bullock also help. Watch it again; you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

(Fourth viewing, On DVD, July 2003) Good action films are hard to find, and viewing the best ones can be helpful in understanding why. In this case, Speed shows all the other upstarts how it’s done: With panache, taut tension, perfect understanding of technical aspects, sympathetic characters and a little bit of reality-defying insanity. Even after all the flack they’ve received for other roles, Sandra Bullock and Keanu Reeves are truly a pair of heroes with whom we can relate. Jan de Bont’s direction has never been as good since, and the clean metallic sheen of the whole production gives a mean focus to a film that is all about never going under the limit. It’s not just good: it’s really good at a level that other action films only dream about. If only more filmmakers would study this movie… The “five-star edition” DVD indeed includes everything you’d ever wish to know about the film, from copious amount of production information to a pair of rather entertaining commentaries. The second commentary track is especially entertaining, as writer Graham Yost and producer Mark Gordon take apart the film in far more detail than even the most nit-picky viewers.

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