| Speed is divine inspiration from the
forces of locomotive ingenuity. Never has a film linked together a string of sequences
that succeeded with such a succession of heavy motion scintillation. Given its grand
visual scope, Speed would have ground to a halt without the superb visual command
of its rookie director, Jan De Bont. In his directing debut, De Bont makes the
transition from director of photography to director wholly successful at the helm of
this roller coaster ride of wild thrills.
Speed packs three rides into one. It opens with a spectacularly shot elevator hijack hostage situation that serves to introduce the forces for good and evil. It follows with the extended bomb in a bus sequence that serves as the heart of the film and finishes with a walloping underground subway eruption. The set design for the elevator sequence is fabulous, serving brilliantly as the backdrop for the exciting opening credits and the sight of a subway car angrily protruding through the pavement has been delivered with maximum visual aplomb.
Excitement is the keynote, and the film delivers non-stop action is helpings rendered at a pace to insure that a minimum amount of time is left for audiences to ponder plot credibility. The masterful editing emphasizes all the aspects of danger and is complimented by powerful scoring from composer Mark Mancina. Director of photography, Andrzej Bartkowiak, works in perfect harmony with director De Bont to produce images with a breathless palette of superior visual impact.
performances by Keanu Reeves, Sandra Bullock and Dennis Hopper serve the action well.
Reeves cool, disinterested screen style molds perfectly into SWAT policeman Jack
Traven. He performs all the physical screen duty asked of him with convincing verve and
stands up nicely to his romantic banter and loving clinches with Sandra Bullock. Bullock
is quite hilarious as Annie, recruited in desperation to drive the speeding bus through
any and every obstacle confronting it. Bullocks facial expressions behind the wheel
embellish the action beautifully. Hopper, in the role of bad bomber Howard Payne, adds
nothing new to the lexicon of villainous screen portrayals, but he does keep the explosive
character of Payne under control when going too far over the crest of evil may have
diminished the effectiveness of the film.