34. Speed

Am feeling weird about America lately. Children of Men messed with my mind. (We gotta get over immigration.)

So: Speed. 1994. What more perfect action plot than Speed? No time for politics or even opinion when – as Evil Dennis Hopper helpfully and delightedly explains – “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?”

Then he repeats, scarier: “What do you do?

How evil we talkin’? The first scene is him stabbing a guy through the head! And he’s no grand-scheming or mass-manipulating evil mastermind, like the Joker or President-elect Trump. Evil Dennis Hopper does not use fear as a weapon; he uses bombs. He has no politics; he wants money. He laughs, swears, watches football, makes beautiful bombs and is, so far as killing goes, heartless. “Don’t fuck with daddy,” he says before pushing a very bad button.

Our champion in the arena against this glorious wack-job is Young Keanu Reeves. People (my friends) disparage Keanu because his characters in lesser films don’t look real when they’re falling in love, or being sad. Sometimes he’s funny when he’s not supposed to be. Yet when a tough job must be done, few are better. Keanu excels with guns; he can fight; he’s fast and runs and jumps and twirls. He’s great at getting mad, but not depressed. When his partner dies in Speed, there’s no scene with Keanu at the bar fighting back tears, reciting lines about how great the guy was. There’s no time for that. There’s a bomb on a bus and it can’t go below 50. No feelings!

Of course we must return from Speed. It can’t last forever. Sandra Bullock debuts in this movie and is sunny and spectacular. Young Sandra and Young Keanu can’t help canoodling, but she warns him “relationships that start under intense circumstances, they never last.” She’s right. They made a sequel and he’s not it. She’s with Jason Patric. Yuck.

Yuck! When Speed’s over you’re back in the real world, all fucked up and shitty.




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