Formerly "Dave's Blog About Movies and Such"

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Speed (aka The Bus That Couldn't Slow Down) (1994)

dir. Jan de Bont

Because so many of my memories are movie-based, I frequently get overtaken by one of these random movie thoughts. A while ago, a friend and I were walking by Port Authority, when the "Let's Go Fly a Kite" song from Mary Poppins popped into my head. It would take a PHd to figure out what it was about Port Authority that caused whatever random memory chain it was that led to my decision to bless the world with my melodious rendition of the Poppins song. (Side note: my friends seem to be under the impression that I do not have a particularly transcendent singing voice. It is my belief, however, that I am of such an advanced skill that I have to wait for the musical world to catch up to me.)

Honestly, it can be disconcerting the degree to which I remember the particulars of so many movies that I have not even seen in over a decade. If my brain's still holding on to all these useless memories, the likelihood is less likely that my brain will have enough space to store important memories yet to come. (Side note: I don't know anything about how the brain works.) I do find already that my memory ain't what it used to be. While it takes me at least four meetings to remember both a person's face and name, I can still recall, in detail, all the particulars of Speed, a movie which I saw only once about fifteen years ago.

Granted, ain't much going on in this mindless action movie, but I surprised even myself when I recently rewatched it and it all came back. The only thing I forgot was the order in which all of the events occurred. (I could have sworn that Jeff Daniels died in the beginning of the movie.) I'm not gonna bother with a detailed plot recap here because everyone already knows what happens in this fucking movie. For those too young to remember this movie (I feel old), Dennis Hopper plants a bomb on a city bus that will explode if it goes under 50 miles per hour. It is up to Keanu Reeves (whoa) to thwart his plans. Sandra Bullock drives the bus. (Insert random, topical Jesse James reference here.)

Even though I remembered everything about this movie, I didn't think about many of its troubling, confusing, and/or stupid aspects until now. For instance, in the opening scene, Keanu (whoa) and Jeff thwart Hopper's ol' ransom for hostages in an explodey elevator plan. A few days later Keanu (whoa) is stunned when a city bus explodes in front of him. He answers a nearby ringing payphone and is surprised to hear Hopper explaining how pissed off he is that the previous plan he spent years scheming had come to naught because of Keanu (whoa). Now, not only has Hopper blowed up a bus to show Keanu (whoa) how pissed he is, but he has also rigged another bus with the complex aforementioned bomb. Hopper has also instituted a time limit and has warned Keanu (whoa) that if he attempts to get any hostages off the bus, he'll blow it up but good. How does Hopper know what happens on the bus? [Spoiler Alert] He has a live feed from the bus's security cam. [End of Spoi- ah, who even cares.]

Let's not even get into all the details as to why the bus plan would be harder to devise than the elevator plan. Let's just focus on one thing: it took Hopper years to plan and set up his previous plan whereas he only needed a couple days for the second plan. Not only was he able to rig all the equipment and set everything in place in only a matter of days, he also knew enough about Keanu's (whoa) daily routine to explode the right bus at the right time in the right location near the right payphone so as to get Keanu's (whoa) attention and call said payphone and alert Keanu (whoa) to his plan. Either Hopper became a super-genius in a couple of days, or he just had a case of the tards in the previous multi-year planning of the elevator heist.

Not that it matters. Keanu (whoa) ends up foiling Hopper yet again. He manages to get everyone off the bus to safety. Keanu (whoa) and Sandra (insert another random topical Jesse James reference here) slide away to safety and watch as the bus crashes into an airplane and safely explodes. Hooray! Everyone's fine—except for, you know, all those people on the plane who just died. No matter; we didn't spend the previous two hours of the movie getting to know these people. Their deaths do not matter.

These are not the only troubling aspects of the movie, of course. Although I didn't think about it the first time I saw it, I now realize that this film was produced by the oil and auto industry as a propaganda piece to dissuade people from using public transportation. In Los Angeles, a city in which not having a set of wheels is akin to being castrated, Speed is saying, "Guess what, not only is it more convenient to have your own car, you're less likely to get killed by terrorists. Don't get on the bus."

Although most remember Speed for the bus scenes, this film is a clusterfuck of various horrifying public transportation disasters. Not only are city buses dangerous bomb machines, but subway cars prove similarly perilous in the film's climax. At fifteen, my first thought when watching this death-subway scene (aside from the surprise that Los Angeles has a subway) was, 'damn, death-subways are death traps.' I have now come to realize, of course, that aside from the occasional masturbating hobo, death-buses and death-subways are safe and convenient modes of transportation.

All that being said, did I still enjoy the movie this time around? Fuck yeah.

[The trailer:]

Dave's Rating:

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