Film Review: "Speed"

As soon as the opening credits have been rolled on the screen, prepare to bite your fingernails and sit on the edge of your seat until you see the closing credits of this film. "Speed" is the exception to every rule that seems to hold when making action movies. Most action films are filled with unnecessary violence, too much swearing, and stupid lines like "I'll be back." This film will surprise you with its clever lines, believable use of technology and brilliantly-shot action scenes.

Jack Traven, played by Keanu Reeves ("Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure," "Bram Stoker's Dracula," and "Point Break"), is on the Los Angeles Police Department's SWAT detail. Reeves and Harry Temple, played by Jeff Daniels ("Terms of Endearment"), attempt to save an elevator full of people after the cables holding it have been rigged with a bomb. Howard Payne, played by Dennis Hopper ("Cool Hand Luke"), planted the bomb in an effort to earn a fast $3.7 million dollars.

Starting with the first scene, this film gives us a sense of reality and humor by demonstrating some of the ridiculousness of everyday behavior. The director thought out every last detail here. In order to make it difficult to rescue the passengers, the elevator situation takes place in an express elevator that only has landings at selected floors.

Director Jan DeBont makes the perspective of the victims seem realistic. The people on the elevator do not realize that they are caught up in more than a mechanical malfunction. Through their facial expressions, dialogues and sarcasticness, they react like the average person would when an elevator car suddenly drops several stories.

Jack Traven's next adventure begins when a Los Angeles bus blows up right in front of his breakfast hangout. The pay phone rings. Jack is told that another city bus has been strapped with explosives that become armed once the bus exceeds 50 mph. If the bus falls below that, the bomb will explode.

When Traven attempts to board the bus from the center lane of a freeway, the passengers think he is crazy. After he boards the bus and tells them about the bomb, an armed passenger threatens to shoot him and ends up shooting the bus driver. A passenger, played by Sandra Bullock ("Demolition Man") takes the wheel.

After dodging some of LA's worst traffic, she makes a confession to Traven: "I should probably tell you that I'm taking the bus because my license is revoked." "For what?" he says. "Speeding," she answers.

"Speed" takes the audience from one situation right into the next, and Reeves keeps us there by being suspended upside-down in an elevator shaft, hanging underneath the moving bus in an attempt to dismantle the bomb and climbing on top of a racing subway train. The action never stops.

Even if you are not an action movie fan, "Speed" will grab you right from the start and keep your heart pounding until the end. The characters are believable, the situations are realistic and the action is breathtaking. It's going to be hard to find a film this summer that will even come close to matching the riveting pace of "Speed"

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