Speed (1994)


Directed by: Jan de Bont

Written by: Graham Yost

Starring: Keanu Reeves, Dennis Hopper, Sandra Bullock

Spoiler Warning

Thank god for Keanu Reeves. I saw Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure when I was 9 years old, and I was convinced that it was the greatest movie ever made. But ever since I have been admittedly lax in keeping up with Mr. Reeves’ career (other than grabbing a VHS copy of The Matrix at a garage sale a few years back).

So I’m proud to say I have finally seen what may be the pinnacle of Keanu. Speed isn’t a flawless film, no. And it’s definitely not the best film in which Keanu Reeves has starred. But when a friend of yours does an impersonation of Keanu at a bar, Officer Jack Traven is the character they’re channeling. The buzzed-haired LAPD cop trapped on a bus that can’t go below 50 mph who delivers a continuous flow of eyeroll-worthy lines. Just take this exchange from the opening scene of the movie, when an elevator in a downtown L.A. skyscraper is wired to blow at any second:

Cop: Anything that will keep this elevator from falling?

Keanu: Yeah. The basement.

That’s just flawless screenwriting, Graham Yost. Bravo.

This movie made $121 million at the U.S. box office in 1994 (when the average ticket price was just $4.08). It was a summer sensation, and rightfully so. I mean, a metro bus jumps over a huge gap in the downtown freeway. That same bus eventually has an explosive collision with a 747 on the LAX runway — and there’s still 25 minutes left to go in the movie after that. Dennis Hopper gets decapitated on the top of a subway car!

It just doesn’t let up.

I watched this movie with a huge grin on my face. It was the perfect amount of cheesy action and laughable dialogue. I found myself talking at the screen multiple times, even yelling “Oh noooooo,” when the first bus driver is shot.

Don’t make the mistake I did in waiting more than 20 years to watch this Keanu Reeves tour de force. It’s seriously fun the whole way through, and I can’t recommend it enough for some summer laughs.