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Scott Ventura >> Movie Commentary >> February 1999 >> Speed


Movie Commentary by Scott Ventura


Scott's Rating:
5 / 5
Times Seen:
Viewing Date:
February 1999
IMDB Name:
Speed (1994)
Jan de Bont
action, suspense
MPAA Rating:
R for violence and language.

Cinematographer turned Director

Jan de Bont's resume includes some wonderful work as a cinematographer: Hunt for Red October, Die Hard, and Basic Instinct. His experience on those first two served him well working on Speed. The movie doesn't dawdle with excess dialogue, excess character development, or excess time mulling the nature of the enemy. The pacing is excellent.

That's Keanu?

Having only previously seen him in Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure and Much Ado About Nothing, I never exactly thought of Keanu Reeves as much of an actor. Granted, the role of Don John calls for someone with certain awkwardness of presentation, but Reeves was the weakest point in the movie, barely distinguishing himself from cardboard. I won't even say anything about Bill & Ted.

Here, on the other hand, we have a respectable performance. Reeves puts good energy into the character, so even though we don't have time for big emotional development scenes, there's still something worth watching.

We have met the enemy...

A good thriller depends on a good villain. Bingo! Dennis Hopper is excellent as the terrorist out for money. He displays quick thinking and excellent planning, and even a spark of personality. Hopper looks the part and puts fire in his eyes and body so he takes control of every one of his scenes. His filmography shows roles in over a hundred movies, and it's easy to see why!

Credibility (beware the spoilers!)

With a running time of just under two hours, you'd think there would be a ton of stuff that I'd nitpick for its inaccuracy. I'm glad to say that I found a surprising amount of the action quite believable. I had a problem with the bus jump and the gas gauge. The gauge was slipping visibly at a rate that looked great on camera, but allowed for a lot less driving time than the characters seemed to think. As for the jump, I just didn't believe that there was enough angle on the end of the road segment to give them enough lift to make the crossing. Such is life in a movie.

I was impressed by the lack of contrivance in shooting the bus driver. I was impressed that there wasn't an LAPD official complaining about improper handling of the situation. I was impressed that the FBI wasn't called in, like Die Hard.

DVD Comments

The disc's menus are simple and functional. The trailer is included, though not widescreen. I was disappointed that French audio and English and Spanish subtitles were included, but Spanish audio and French subtitles were absent. I'm becoming increasingly disenchanted with the limited use of multiple audio tracks on Region 1 discs.

See the IMDB information on Speed's DVD.

Other Opinions

Copyright 1999-2001 by Scott Ventura. All rights reserved.