Speed - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Speed Reviews

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Super Reviewer
½ May 12, 2007
If you suspend logic a little bit and don't question the bad guy's non-existent motives for his actions, then Speed is one of the best action movies out there. Keanu and Sandra are great.
Super Reviewer
½ August 2, 2013
Well I think 'Under Siege' kick started the term 'Die Hard on a...' back in 1992, then along came this massive action film rollercoaster success in 1994 which coined the highly imaginative term 'Die Hard on a bus'. Holy skidmarks! this film brought back some memories of my teens, I remember this film well and the huge furore it caused, all the girls were banging on about Reeves and all the boys were banging on about Bullock.

The plot is actually quite ingenious really, it sounds insane, how on earth can you set an action film on a bus? we all asked backed in the day. Well obviously there are bits that aren't within the bus of course but the main threat of a bus that can't go below 50mph is a clever plot trick. That's pretty much it really, a bus load of stereotypical everyday commuters are all trapped on a bus which has a bomb underneath. Super cop Keanu Reeves takes on the job of saving the day from the terrorist Dennis Hopper. And at the end of the ride just like 'Hans Gruber', all the bad guy wants is some money.

Looking back at this its so so damn cheesy I can't believe it, how did we all think this was cool?!. The opening credits are some of the worse looking computer effects/text images I've seen, obviously early days back then and boy does it show when 'SPEED' pops up. I mean lets think about this for one moment, how can anyone take an action flick seriously when one of the SWAT guys is played by...Jeff Daniels??!.

The main action on the bus which takes up most of the film is undeniably enjoyable still. The whole idea is such a rush and easily translated to film, sure half the time the bus is clearly not going at 50mph (usually much slower) but it still comes across very well. You get every predictable scene you would naturally expect, the film isn't the most original in terms of characters. All the passengers fight amongst themselves, one is a gang member with a gun who of course shoots the bus driver which mean Bullock must drive. One lady is always panicky and slightly hysterical, one guy is mouthy, one guy delivers some comedic lines every now and then, there's a token black couple, a token Latino guy and Reeves of course totally stony faced and stoic at all times.

For the most part the film is quite realistic, but there are some moments which they could of left out. The bus jumping a big gap in an unfinished highway springs to mind which is easily the worse idea ever. The way they let the bomb loaded bus careen into an oncoming airliner once everybody is safely off, surely they should of tried to veer it somewhere so it wouldn't cause massive damage?. Of course we all know the reason is merely to show off a nice big explosion at the end, despite the fact in the films plot it may have caused more deaths. What about the guy pulling the plane in his little tug truck??...who cares its a cool explosion!.

While we all know that Reeves is the invincible turbo charged heroic cop who never gets tired or injured, he is acceptable for what he is. Bullock on the other hand is not, at no time did I ever accept the fact she could be driving this bus, there's just no way. Bullock is an annoying wet drip of a woman and shows it completely in this film, she flaps, squeals and rarely looks in control. They wouldn't have lasted five minutes in reality with her driving.

On the other hand Hopper is clearly having a blast as this pissed off ex-cop out for revenge. He's dodging around scowling and howling like no ones business, he goes for broke and totally delivers a perfect hammy over the top bad guy. This film really is amusing at times though, like in the finale when Reeves and Hopper are fighting. This young, tough, adrenaline filled ultra cop getting his ass beaten by clearly a late middle aged man who is half his size and can barely run.

The film does tend to lose its edge once the main event of the bomb rigged bus has been solved. The set pieces get more and more ridiculous until we reach the rather overly ridiculous finale with the underground train, which is clearly a model. The film in parts is plain stupid, comic relief from various characters along the way is reasonable I suppose but it all adds to the cheese n ham factor, kinda takes the edge off at times. But overall the film doesn't try to be anything other than a speeding bullet of an action flick that you don't really have to look too deep into. And not often does an action films title sum up the general content so perfectly. Still nowhere near on par with the classic 'Die Hard' but a decent rare original action film.
Super Reviewer
½ July 18, 2013
WOW, THIS MOVIE HOLDS UP. Over the top, yet kind of wholly logical.
Super Reviewer
October 24, 2011
From what I remember, this movie is full of action and awesomeness.
Super Reviewer
December 2, 2006
An extortionist plants a bomb on a Los Angeles bus which will explode if its speed drops to less than 50 miles per hour. This thin synopsis perfectly represents the paper thin plot of Speed, which is a film a young Michael Bay must have been taking notes from back in 1994. All of his trademarks can be found here; the over saturated colour filters, dumb one liners, pointless slo-mo explosions and the way the camera endlessly circles our heroes as if the audience are mere satellites gazing up at the Olympian Gods of Hollywood. It's a simple premise, designed purely to manufacture edge of the seat, base thrills and as such it works extremely well. Keanu makes a decent low brow action hero and is good as long as you don't expect him to express emotion or act or anything. The biggest problem is that the opening scenes set around a highjacked elevator are much more interesting than the bus (an idea that is stretched beyond breaking point), mainly because of the presence of Jeff Daniels whose partnership with Reeves works really well. Shame he disappears half way through, then. Hopper's merciless hamminess is also fun as the bad guy and there are plenty of shots of Sandra Bullock's legs so it gets the job done in the cheap thrills stakes. Just don't expect anything more.
Super Reviewer
December 26, 2007
"Pop quiz, hotshot. There's a bomb on a bus. Once the bus goes 50 miles an hour, the bomb is armed. If it drops below 50, it blows up. What do you do? What do you do!?"

The action movie of the 80's is without a doubt 'Die Hard'. The movie that defines action in the first decade of the millenium change is in my opinion 'The Matrix' (I know it's made in '99 but you do understand I have to get 'Speed' here in my introduction and besides I first saw 'The Matrix' in 2000...). So what comes to mind when thinking of action films that defines and changes the genre for better in the 90's? 'Speed'. Fuck it, I just came to think about 'T2 - Judgment Day'...

So anyhow, 'Speed' didn't define action for the 90's. 'The Matrix' and 'T2' did a better job. But if 'Speed' would've been done wrong, the end result would've been terrible ('Speed 2, anyone?). Done well, action films can be a lot of fun (and thus forgiving some serious goofs and illogical happenings).

Jan de Bont directed 'Speed' as his first feature film. He had worked on several action films prior to 'Speed' as a cinematographer (Die Hard', 'Hunt for the Red October'...). What I've read from various film magazines and interweb sites, 'Speed' had some issues when going to production. First of all, I have to mention Joss Whedon's ('Firefly' and 'Serenity') name as he contributed on the script making it work better. He was left uncredited, though. But what worried me the most was that Keanu Reeves and Sandra Bullock weren't among the first choices for starring roles. Stephen Baldwin, William Baldwin, Arnold Schwarzenegger... "Get to da choppa!" just sounds better than "Stop da buzz!".

Glenn Close, Meryl Streep, Anjelica Huston, Emma Thompson, Diane Lane? Great actresses without a doubt but was their first intention to make the film about a group of middle aged tourists on a 20 mph bus touring Beverly Hills? Ok, that sounded very stupid and I appologize for my lame effort to be "funny".

Films like 'Speed' are inteded to charm the younger audience. I can't think of a better on-screen couple than Keanu Reeves and Sandra Bullock. Both good looking and terrible actors (yeah, like she deserved the Oscar!). The acting is so terrible at times that you have to be set for the right mood for it to work. You can't see 'Speed' and wait for some groundbreaking method acting. This is supposed to be cheesy and fun. It's not like Jeff Daniels or Dennis Hopper would be doing a better job but I just can't think of any other for their roles. Hopper is perfect for his role as the villain (just like in 'Super Mario Bros') and in my opinion he is the scene stealer.

So what's the film really about then? Small pensions and cheap gold watches make retired cops go berserk and make bombs on elevators and busses while forgetting everything about police tactics and getting their faces turn purple of paint. That is pretty much the whole idea. So what do you do? What do you do!?

Just go see it for the fun and the hidden charm.
Super Reviewer
July 13, 2011
Jack: You're crazy! You're fuckin' crazy!
Howard Payne: NO! Poor people are crazy, Jack. I'm eccentric.

Speed is a pulse-pounding thriller and one hell of a fun ride. The greatest thing about it is that it doesn't attempt to be anything more than what it is. It doesn't mess around; it gets right to the point and doesn't deviate into stupid sub-plots. It's just a non-stop action movie and nothing more.

The cast for Speed is great. I really liked Dennis Hopper as the lunatic terrorist and Jeff Daniels as Harry. Both Keanu Reeves and Sandra Bullock both did really well with their roles as well. This is easily Jan de Bont's best movie. That's not saying that much if you look at the rest of his movies, but this is a truly solid thriller.

If your looking for a movie that explores humanity or love, I wouldn't watch this. But if all you want is two hours of action; I can't think of a better movie for you to watch.
Super Reviewer
December 21, 2009
I'm sure i've said bad things about Speed in the past, but it really is such a beautiful display of pulse-pounding adrenaline. Speed taps into the aspect of action movies that never gets old. The suspense oriented plot, endless use of big stunts and explosions is ridiculously well done. You can't go wrong with a deranged terrorist as your villain; especially when it's played by Dennis Hopper. However, it's Keanu Reeves that conquers all by bringing his intensity, thrill seeking nature and cocky attitude to the table. This is the movie that truly defined him as the action star he is today and completely shed him of his Bill & Ted reputation. Sandra Bullock also gives her all with this and I think this is actually one of her finest performances. Complain all you want about it being illogical, but Speed is flawless in the visuals department. For every outlandish plot device that pops up, there is an extremely cool stunt that follows. It's done in a way that you are able to just accept what is going on rather than argue with it. Speed also still manages to be just as effective and fun, even now. Every few years it's nice to be able pop this in and just watch two hours of awesome, adrenaline fueled action. While this might not fit everyone's taste, it certainly stands as a classic in my book and I still love it just as much as I did the first time.
Super Reviewer
½ September 6, 2010
Oh, the suspense! A bus that has to go over a certain speed or it'll explode! Loved this movie, it's the best action adventure movie of the year.
Super Reviewer
½ May 11, 2011
Directorial debut of cinematographer Jan De Bont is a nonstop roller coaster ride of thrills. The film never slows down and makes you hold your breath until the final intense climax. A former cop has got the city under siege as he targets a bus full of passengers. He has placed a bomb under a city bus and demands the city pay a ransom.What follows is a terrific cat and mouse game with the bomber named Howard Payne brilliantly played by Dennis Hopper as the cops try to safely stop the bus and outwit Howard Payne. Keanu Reeves is surprisingly good as cop Jack Travers and Sandra Bullock gives one of her best performances as Annie Porter (considering that I'm not a big fan of her work), Speed is an exception along with The Blind Side. Speed has quite a simple story but it proves that a simple story can be a platform for an effective and entertaining film. Of all the films that Jan De Bont has made, Speed is his best film. He quickly went down hill from here, Twister, and Speed 2 sucked and lacked anything to make thiem great films. At least Speed is a fine action film that is brilliantly shot and paced. The film is never boring and the audience won't get bored. What makes Speed such a great action film is it's refusal to slow down on the action. The tension just keeps mounting and doesn't let up. You don't want to tear yourself away from the screen as you want to know what happens next. Dennis Hopper is awesome and he makes this film a memorable addition to the genre. No other words can sum Speed, except it's an adrenaline pulse pounding ride.
Super Reviewer
April 20, 2011
Very thrilling movie, one of the few Reeves is solid in. Great performances from Bullock, Daniels, and Hopper. Look here for some solid suspense.
Super Reviewer
½ March 12, 2011
This movie was incredible. It had every correct spot at every correct time. This is on the greatest thrillers ever made. It had a small problem with the plot, even though it was good, the villain wasn't really intimidating as much as they made him out to be. Other than that a tremendous movie.
Super Reviewer
November 14, 2010
I have always considered "Speed" a sort of masterpiece of action genre filmmaking. Certainly we have seen this sort of thing done before, and it's 90's action sensibilities can date it, but "Speed" is pure adrenaline. We get a great cast (Keanu Reeves, Dennis Hopper, Sandra Bullock, Jeff Daniels) that elevates the simple characterizations into people we care about. We get non-stop action that is both grounded in reality and for the most part the effects are done in camera, so the thrills never ring false and the impact is greater. The script is simple, clever and always surprising, even after repeated viewings. Everything "Speed" does, it does with high energy and a smile and a wink that proves fresh with every viewing.
Super Reviewer
½ July 21, 2010
Not amazing but fun.

Grade: B
Super Reviewer
½ September 18, 2010
you can definitely see the age in this movie, but it's always gonna be a great action movie
Super Reviewer
April 29, 2007
Still one of the best action films around with a strong cast.
Super Reviewer
March 22, 2006
There are few blockbuster action movies that come close to being as good as this one is. Great villain, great hero and great direction really get you involved in what ended up being a smarter movie than you would've thought it could be. Jack Traven could kick Jack Bauer's ass!

June 30, MMX: Oh man, I never tire of this movie! I saw it again and it was just as rollicking a good time as it was when I first saw it. The story is really simple and elegant, the music really pumps you up and the explosions really land. I really like the villain too: he's a bitter bomb tech who, unhappy with his pension, sets out to score big money through the ancient art of hostage taking. Wasn't that how About Schmidt started? Classic 90s blockbuster action during the genre's golden age.
Super Reviewer
January 14, 2010
One of the greatest action movies I've seen in a long time! It delivers over and above!
Super Reviewer
April 4, 2009
"Get ready for rush hour."

A young cop must save the passengers of a bus that has a bomb set to explode if the bus goes below 50 MPH.

High octane action-thriller with hotshot bombsquad cop Reeves battling wits and time with mad bomber Hopper, who's rigged a city bus full of passengers with explosives set to blast if it fails to keep at 50 mph! Far-fetched maybe, but non-stop thrills giving the genre a much needed shot of adrenaline and nerve shattering humor. Reeves is great as the buff hero, Hopper over-the-top perfect as the villain and Bullock is wonderfully spunky as the passenger/driver trying to keep them all alive. Eye-popping visuals and one helluva stunt involving a leap of faith. "Speed" kills!
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