247. Speed

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Movie: Speed

Release Date: June 10, 1994

Director: Jan de Bont

Starring: Keanu Reeves, Dennis Hopper, Sandra Bullock, Jeff Daniels, Joe Morton.

Tag Lines: “Get ready for rush hour.”

Relevance: When I saw the ‘Speed’ trailer, one that really only focused on Keanu Reeves and Dennis Hopper yelling about a exploding bus, I wasn’t running out to see it in theaters. I’ll be honest, I wasn’t the biggest fan of Keanu Reeves’ acting. I had seen him in numerous films before and was never all that impressed. He played the “surfer dude” well, but that was as far as he seemed to go. So I skipped seeing ‘Speed’ on the big screen during the summer of 1994.

That year, I didn’t know who Sandra Bullock was. She had already acted in over ten films, but none that I had seen. ‘Demolition Man’ with Sylvester Stallone and Wesley Snipes was probably her biggest film to date, but not something that I got around to watching. Actually, I still haven’t seen it. After the box office success of ‘Speed,’ which gave more spotlight to her and her career, I started to take notice. By the time it was available for rental in the fall of 1994, I was ready to check it out for two reasons. One, I’ll watch any movie. Two, I wanted to see what all the fuss was over Ms. Bullock. I’m glad I did.

Sandra Bullock won me over big time in this film. I adored her and because of it absolutely loved the film. She seemed to boost Mr. Reeves performance to acceptable and thoroughly entertained the hell out of me. She has since become one of my favorite actresses. She has already appeared on this list once before (see 276. While You Were Sleeping) and will be popping up one more time much later this year.

‘Speed’ was the perfect popcorn action thriller and one that I have watched numerous times since its release. Every time it is played on television, I stop and watch it. I can’t help it. It is a movie that simply entertains and isn’t that what we really just want in a movie? It is the film that introduced me to Sandra Bullock and one that catapulted her into stardom. So for those reasons alone, it will always stay close to my heart.

Today’s Thoughts: “Pop quiz, asshole.” Do you always need perfect acting or a realistic story to be thoroughly entertained? The answer is no. ‘Speed’ is a solid action flick that I enjoyed watching today just as much as I did way back in 1994.

I still stand by my assessment of Keanu Reeve’s acting ability, but I say it begrudgingly. He seems like a very nice, respectable man as well as very handsome, but in my opinion he plays the same character over and over again. Jack Nicholson gets a similar assessment (minus the handsome) by me, so at least he is in good company. With that said, he gets the job done in ‘Speed.’ Dennis Hopper is over-the-top crazy and it kind of works for this character. Jeff Daniels (who is always stellar) and the rest of the supporting cast all do commendable jobs with what the script gives them. However, this movie was and always will be about Sandra Bullock. She is completely funny and charming and handles the action of the film like a pro.

And it is the action that keeps me and everyone else coming back to it. It is beautifully directed by Jan de Bont, a man that knows how to direct an action movie. This is his second film on my list of most influential movies of all time. (See 271. Twister for his first one.) I always feel like he takes an outrageous idea and delivers it in a way that respects the audience of that genre by incorporating enough explosions, chases, gun fights with humor, humanity and drama.

So pop your popcorn, sit back and watch ‘Speed’ for the first or hundredth time. It’s the perfect way to kill two hours during your “stay at home” isolation.

Awards: Academy Award for Best Sound, Gregg Landmaker, Steve Maslow, Bob Beemer, David MacMillan (winner), Academy Award for Best Effects, Sound Effects Editing, Stephen Hunter Flick (winner), Academy Award for Best Film Editing, John Wright (nomination), BAFTA Award for Best Editing, John Wright (winner), BAFTA Award for Best Sound, Stephen Hunter Flick, Gregg Landmaker, Steve Maslow, Bob Beemer, David MacMillan (winner), BAFTA Award for Best Special Effects, Boyd Shermis, John Frazier, Ron Brinkmann, Richard E. Hollander.

Ways to Watch: YouTube, iTunes, Google Play, Vudu, Amazon Prime, Sling TV, DVD Availability.

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