Speed (1994)

Directed by George P. Cosmatos

The movie Speed is essentially Die Hard on a bus. Like that film, it also opens with drama in an elevator. (What’s with that, by the way? Is there some secret phobia we all have about elevators?)

The movie is very good as an action-thriller. However, I’d have to say it doesn’t resonate quite the way the original Die Hard did and I think this is partly due to a lack of character development. (The filmmakers are aware of this too, as screenwriter Graham Yost admits – see the DVD Journal review of the movie.)

Speed simply launches you into the action and only occasionally throws out anything about the characters and, when it does, fails to reinforce the information.

Die Hard, on the other hand, developed its characters both through the opening exposition and then as the action got going. In fact, most of what happened in Die Hard related to character (far-fetched though it was).

After seeing Speed, could anyone say who the Sandra Bullock character was? Or even Keanu Reaves? This is why I say it doesn’t resonate. While we are riveted to our seats by the action, when it’s all over I think the only memorable character is Dennis Hopper (who more or less played the same Dennis Hopper character we always see).

Still … Speed is entertaining despite its flaws. It doesn’t give you time to think about its failings as you rush along with the thrill ride. And you have to admire a film about public transportation that can hold your attention.

By the way … The Five Star Collection DVD presents good image and sound as well as a bounty of special features. It’s definitely worth getting if you like this kind of movie.

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