“Speed” was directed by Jan de Bont in his directorial debut. The film stars Keanu Reeves, Dennis Hopper, Sandra Bullock, Joe Morton and Jeff Daniels. This film stands out as one Reeves’ breakout performances in the 90s that led him to be one of the greatest action heroes of all time. Many other actors were considered for the lead role including Tom Hanks, Woody Harrelson, Wesley Snipes, Tom Cruise & Stephen Baldwin. Sandra Bullock was also a third choice after Halle Berry turned down the role and Ellen DeGeneres was considered before a script change occurred which led to Bullock being selected.
After LAPD detectives, Jack Traven (Reeves) and Harry Temple (Daniels) foil a mad bomber’s plan, they become targets for his next bomb. The bomber is revealed to be Howard Payne (Hopper) a former bomb squad officer for the Atlanta PD. The day after Jack & Harry are awarded for their heroism, Payne blows up a bus, killing the driver moments after Jack meets him. Payne then calls Jack telling him that there’s another bus rigged to blow. Once the bus goes above 50 mph, its armed and should drop below 50 for any reason, its blows up. Another rule is that if Jack or the police try to get passengers off the bus, it also blows too. Payne reveals his plan that his ransom of $3 million isn’t paid by 11 am that he’ll blow the bus regardless. Jack races through the streets of LA to warn the bus and its unsuspecting passengers which include Annie Porter (Bullock). While Jack tries to avoid traffic and keep the passengers as calm as possible, Harry and Lieutenant McMahon (Morton) try to both figured out how to defuse the bomb but also find Payne. The police must race against the clock before this mad bomber strikes again.
“Speed” is considered one of greatest action movies of the 90s which I agree with. This is a typical 90s action with one liners, suspense, over the top action and thrills and a solid performance from both Reeves and Bullock. Dennis Hopper as the villain works really well despite having the least amount of screen time. A basic story with a high stake drama is makes this film great. Reeves was coming off “Point Break” and really comes into his own in “Speed” rather than sharing the spotlight with another A-List actor. Sandra Bullock’s character is great and serves as a solid opposite to Reeves.
After the success of “Speed”, a sequel was announced for a 1997 release. “Speed 2: Cruise Control” was a major disappointment follow the previous film’s success. Jan de Bont return as director and even Sandra Bullock return as Annie. Keanu Reeves opted out of the sequel and so was written out of the story thus causing the film to bomb at the box office. Jan de Bont would go on to direct the aforementioned sequels as well as 1995’s “Twister”, 1999’s remake of “The Haunting” and 2003’s “Lara Croft: The Cradle of Life”. After the sequel, Sandra Bullock would appear several romantic comedies such as 1995’s “While You Were Sleeping” & 1998’s “Hope Floats”. Her career was continue rise in the 2000s with acclaimed films like “Miss Congeniality”, “Crash”, “Two Week Notice”, “Gravity”, “Bird Box”, “The Proposal” & “The Heat”. Keanu Reeves would also continue establishing himself as an action hero following “Speed” with films like 1995’s “Johnny Mnemonic”, 1997’s “The Devil’s Advocate” and the 1999 hugely successful Sci-Fi film, “The Matrix”. In the 2000s, Reeves appear in films such as the 2 “Matrix” sequels in 2003, 2004’s “Constantine”, 2006’s “A Scanner Darkly” and 2008’s remake of “The Day The Earth Stood Still”. Reeves would return to the action genre with another successful franchise, 2014’s “John Wick” and its 2016 & 2017 sequels. A 4th “John Wick” as well as “Matrix” film have been confirmed with Reeves return to both franchises in 2022. Reeves and Bullock was later appear in the 2006 romantic drama, “The Lake House”.