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 slow motion 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 well. Keanu Reeves 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 like that. The biggest problem is that the opening scenes set around a high-jacked elevator are much more interesting than the bus – an idea that is stretched well beyond breaking point- mainly because of the presence of Jeff Daniels whose partnership with Reeves works really well and his absence for the latter part of the film is glaring.
Dennis Hopper’s merciless hamminess is also fun 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.