Action/Adventure: A cop must deal with a terrorist who has rigged a bus to explode if its speed drops below 50 M.P.H.
Jack Traven (KEANU REEVES) and Harry Temple (JEFF DANIELS) are L.A. bomb squad cops who foil a terrorist's attempts at blackmailing the city. Although they think that Howard Payne (DENNIS HOPPER) died from one of his own bombs, they're surprised when the terrorist strikes back, this time targeting Jack, who finds himself in quite a dilemma. He must get onto a bus that's been rigged with a bomb that will explode should the bus' speed drop below 50 M.P.H. While Harry tries to locate Payne, Jack must deal with the passengers, which includes Annie (SANDRA BULLOCK), who's now driving the bus. As they do so, things get more tense as the bus encounters congested roads and freeways throughout Los Angeles that may slow down its speed.
WILL KIDS WANT TO SEE IT?
If they're fans of any of the cast or like "big-time" action films, they'll surely be drawn to this one.
WHY THE MPAA RATED IT: R
The reason was not available, but we'd guess it was for language and violence.
CAST AS ROLE MODELS:
KEANU REEVES plays a no nonsense cop who does what it takes, including some dangerous physical challenges, to resolve the situation.
DENNIS HOPPER plays a terrorist who puts people in harm's way in an attempt to his money.
SANDRA BULLOCK plays a woman caught in a bad situation when she is forced to drive the bus. In doing so (and to maintain their speed), she plows through moving and parked cars and drives down the wrong side of the street.
JEFF DANIELS plays the partner/sidekick who is drunk in one scene, but beyond that is an okay role model.
When this movie was first announced, it sounded like a great "high concept" idea. That is, you could explain it in one phrase, and people immediately thought it sounded like an interesting idea. The question on most minds, however, was whether that one idea could be sustained throughout the run of a feature length film. The answer is a resounding yes. While there are a few holes in the plot (that are really only noticed after repeat viewings), director Jan de Bont keeps the bus -- and the movie -- zipping along at a nice clip. It doesn't hurt that there's great chemistry between Reeves and Bullock -- with most of it being understated, which makes it work that much better. And who would have guessed that Reeves would make a great action figure? The role fits him perfectly -- or vice versa -- as he plays the reluctant hero, and his usual dumbfounded look works to his advantage here as he turns it into the appearance of bottled rage. Since this was the role that put him on the "A" list in Hollywood, it's both surprising and satisfying that he turned down the role in the film's sequel. Hopper delivers enough of a crazed performance to make his role interesting, and Bullock is charming in the role that made her a big star. While the movie goes one sequence too far and should have stopped after the initial situation is resolved, that part doesn't detract too much from the overall film. If you can accept some speeded up film (to make it look like the bus is really going that fast around corners or through traffic) and a few other minor problems, you'll find yourself on quite an thrilling ride. We give "Speed" a fast-moving 8 out of 10.
OUR WORD TO PARENTS:
Several key features stand out in this film that parents should know about. Both the profanity and level of violence are extreme, but perhaps more troubling is the fact that the villain uses bombs to get his point across and/or get what he wants. In the aftermath of recent bombings for those very purposes, this is something that parents should discuss with their children, especially impressionable teens who are becoming rebellious to authority figures. Beyond that, there's one brief glimpse of partial nudity, a few suggestive lines of dialogue, and a great deal of tense scenes. If you and/or your children wish to see this film, we suggest that you examine the content before doing so.
Phrases: "Screwed up," "Shut up," "Nuts" (crazy), "Don't f*ck with daddy," "Balls" and "Cajones" (testicles), "Geez," "Punk," "Bastard," "The man sure has a hard-on for this bus," "We're boned," "Pissed," "Jerking off," "Jerk."
Payne uses bombs to get his message across to others.
Payne takes Harry hostage and Jack shoots his partner in the leg to make him less mobile (the "shoot the hostage" approach).
Jack aims his gun at a driver so that he can commandeer his car for police business.
Jack drives like a madman to catch the bus. He then opens the car door, slams on the brakes and tears off the driver's side door.
Jack leaps from his moving car to the moving bus.
Jack is rolled under the bus on a dolly cart as he tries to deactivate the bomb (while unlikely, some kids may find the rolling under the bus to be a tempting challenge).
Likewise, Jack gets on top of a moving subway car.
16 "f" words, 40 "s" words, 1 slang term for male genitals ("pr*ck"), 7 "ass" words (4 used with "hole"), 2 damns, 2 S.O.B.'s, 2 hells, 14 uses of "Oh my God," 8 of "Oh God," 6 of "God," 5 of "G-damn," 4 of "Jesus," and 1 use each of "Oh Jesus" and "Oh Christ" as exclamations.
Payne stabs a man in the ear with a screwdriver, killing him.
Payne fires a shotgun through the roof of an elevator at Jack and Harry. Harry falls into the elevator and Payne grabs him by the nostrils. Jack ends up in the elevator at gunpoint and flinches when Payne pulls the trigger, but the shotgun doesn't fire.
Payne takes Harry hostage and Jack shoots his partner in the leg to make him less mobile.
An explosion blows Jack into a wall, knocking him unconscious.
A bus explodes, killing the driver.
Jack slams his elbow into a bus' glass door, shattering it.
Jack slams on the brakes of the car he's driving and its open door is torn off as the bus hits it.
A man on the bus pulls out a gun and Jack draws his. As Jack tries to talk the man down, another passenger grabs the first man and the gun accidentally goes off, striking the bus driver in the shoulder. Jack then hits the first man several times to control him.
Since they have to keep the bus above 50 M.P.H., it runs into many cars, signs, etc... that are in its way.
The bus strikes a baby carriage that turns out to be filled with aluminum cans and not a child.
A woman tries to get off the bus, but Payne sets off an explosion that kills her.
Several officers are killed in a house that's been rigged with a bomb that goes off.
The bus runs into a plane, the bomb goes off, and both vehicles blow up.
Payne shoots and kills a subway driver.
Payne fires his machine gun through a subway car's roof at Jack.
Jack and Payne fight with punches thrown and Payne slamming Jack's head onto the car. As Payne tries to strangle Jack, his head is forced up into the path of a hanging light that decapitates him.
An out of control subway car crashes through a construction site.