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Get ready for rush hour. 

Year: 1994 
Running Time:
Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1 (Scope) 
Certificate: BBFC 15 Cert – Not suitable for under 15s 
Subtitles: The level of subtitling in this film is unknown to WSC 
Directed by Unknown 
Starring: Unknown  

After trying his hand at Shakespeare, and producing one of the worst English accents of all time in Bram Stoker's Dracula, Keanu Reeves finally seems to have found a genre that he is comfortable with; the ACTION MOVIE!

Many a sceptic sniggered at the thought of first time director, Jan de Bont (a cinematographer who cut his teeth on movies such as Black Rain, and Basic Instinct)) helming what was essentially Die Hard on a bus, with a totally bogus Mr Reeves as the star. What they didn't know was that De Bont would produce one of the best action pictures in recent years, and Reeves would find himself hailed as the Arnie of the 90's (Don't forget to mention the cute bum! - Ed.).

Reeves is Jack Traven, an unorthodox cop (with a slightly more sedate partner, Jeff Daniels, no surprise yet!) who becomes the target of a particularly vindictive bomber (Dennis Hopper on lunatic overdrive) after foiling Hopper's attempt to turn an elevator of innocent people into mincemeat. Hopper is understandably a tad miffed - now comes the fun part - he wires a bus to explode if its speed drops below 50m.p.h. There are a few problems here; a bus full of hysterical passengers, a driver with a bullet hole in him and rush hour traffic!

No plot synopsis could really do Speed justice, this is not your average no brain actioner. Plausibility isn't an issue, Speed doesn't give you time to catch your breath never mind question the likelihood of the events. De Bont's direction is taught and claustrophobic, and with most of the stunts performed by the actors there is a palpable sense of danger and involvement. Keanu, aided and abetted by a new hair cut, ripples his muscles beautifully and handles the rough stuff with panache, but the film is almost stolen by Sandra Bullock, the hapless passenger who ends up behind the wheel.

Refreshingly Speed has no lofty pretentions. No attempt is made to pyscho analyse Hopper's character: he is a nut, leave it at that. The script isn't littered with surplus background details and the dialogue is slick and believably witty, without lapsing into wisecracks.

By sticking to his guns and being willing to take risks, De Bont has succeeded in making Speed the thrill ride of the year. If you still haven't seen it, catch it on the big screen, because that flying bus just won't look the same on TV!

Caroline Smith.

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Screenings of this film:

1994/1995 Spring Term (35mm)
1994/1995 Spring Term (35mm)
1994/1995 Spring Term (35mm)
1994/1995 Spring Term (35mm)
1998/1999 Summer Term (35mm)