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James Berardinelli

Jun 16, 1997, 3:00:00 AM6/16/97

A film review by James Berardinelli
Copyright 1997 James Berardinelli

RATING (0 TO 10): 3.5
Alternative Scale: *1/2 out of ****

United States, 1997
U.S. Release Date: 6/13/97 (wide)
Running Length: 2:05
MPAA Classification: PG-13 (Violence, profanity)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1

Cast: Sandra Bullock, Jason Patric, Willem Dafoe, Temuera Morrison,
Brian McCardie, Christine Firkins, Royale Watkins
Director: Jan de Bont
Producers: Jan de Bont, Steve Perry, and Michael Peyser
Screenplay: Randall McCormick and Jeff Nathanson based on a story by
Jan de Bont and Randall McCormick
Cinematography: Jack N. Green
Music: Mark Mancina
U.S. Distributor: 20th Century Fox

If there was ever an action movie that didn't warrant a sequel,
it's SPEED. However, the film grossed enough money to be numbered among
the big summer hits of 1994, and the unfortunate result is this film,
which reunites director Jan de Bont with leading lady Sandra Bullock,
while leaving Keanu Reeves somewhere safe and dry, "working on his
music" with his band, Dogstar. Considering the dubious quality of the
final product, this may be the wisest decision of the young actor's
career. SPEED 2 can be numbered among the worst second chapters ever

The original SPEED was an entertaining jolt of pure adrenaline that
took everyone by surprise. De Bont was an instant success and Bullock
became a hot commodity. It was almost inevitable that any sequel, no
matter how thrilling, would be a letdown. What no one anticipated was
how sharply the downturn would be. Not only is SPEED 2 missing the
first movie's main character, but the excitement seems to have departed
with him.

This time around, Keanu Reeves' Jack Traven has been replaced by
Jason Patric's Alex Shaw. For the most part, they're the same person
(it shouldn't surprise anyone to learn that Alex was originally written
as Jack), and their function is identical. The highest paid member of
the cast, Sandra Bullock, is back as Annie. Now, having broken up with
Jack, she's in the midst of a long-term relationship with Alex. Things
are a little rocky between them, so Alex comes up with a solution: a
romantic cruise to the Caribbean on the SEABOURN LEGEND. However, just
like John McLane in the DIE HARD series, Annie is about to find herself
in the wrong place at the wrong time. Also aboard the SEABOURN LEGEND
is a mentally-unstable computer genius named John Geiger (played without
any panache by Willem Dafoe) who intends to take over the ship, crank
the engines up to full power, and crash it into something very big.

SPEED 2 is a classic example of "sound and fury, signifying
nothing." Only, in this case, that "nothing" isn't bolstered by the
high-energy tension and tremendous special effects of de Bont's previous
excursion, TWISTER. SPEED 2 is lackluster -- the plot methodically
drives the film from one action set-piece to another, and the visuals
are merely adequate. In fact, the only real thrill offered by SPEED 2
comes during the bloated movie's final half-hour (as the ship's
collision course becomes apparent). By then, it's too little, too late.

The original SPEED was frantically paced and featured a number of
individuals that, in spite of their two-dimensionality, were likable and
exhibited human characteristics. We felt like we were trapped on the
bus with them. This time, the pace and characters are mechanical, and
it doesn't seem as if we're actually on board the endangered cruise
ship. Instead, we're watching form a detached vantage point, noticing
details that we're not supposed to be paying attention to (like what
kind of lighting best highlights Bullock's features) or waiting in vain
for someone to break into a chorus of "The Love Boat."

Jason Patric has one mode: serious. The actor, who is best suited
to introspective, brooding roles (as in THE JOURNEY OF AUGUST KING),
treats this ridiculous screenplay like it's WAR AND PEACE. There's no
sense of fun or goofiness. I never thought I would admit to missing
Reeves, but that's the situation here -- at least he understood the
right tone to adopt. Meanwhile, Bullock plays the same part the same
way (albeit for a lot more money) -- she looks cute, gets involved in a
couple of action scenes, and is taken hostage. But she and Patric never
click; their chemistry is glacial.

Since Dennis Hopper's Howard Payne was decapitated at the end of
SPEED, the sequel needs a new villain. Enter Willem Dafoe, who's
usually a good psycho. Not here, though. Geiger has no manic energy,
and Dafoe doesn't seem particularly excited to be playing him. SPEED 2
is the kind of film that demands a strong opponent, but Geiger isn't it.
Meanwhile, there are a few interesting cameos: Tim Conway and Bo
Svenson have small parts, and SPEED veterans Joe Morton and Glenn
Plummer are on hand for a couple of scenes.

Watching SPEED 2, I felt embarrassed for everyone involved. Sure,
they're all being well-paid, but no one wants a $120 million flop on
their resume. And, once the word gets out about how disappointing this
movie is, crowds will dwindle. There are enough action alternatives out
there to sate the public's summer appetite. Someone should have
recognized what an appropriate metaphor the climactic sequence (which
features massive destruction) is for the entire film. SPEED 2 appears
headed for a box office disaster of titanic proportions. Creatively and
entertainment-wise, it's already sunk.

- James Berardinelli
ReelViews web site:

Ben Hoffman

Jun 17, 1997, 3:00:00 AM6/17/97

A film review by Ben Hoffman
Copyright 1997 Ben Hoffman

If you are looking for some follow up, a sequel to
SPEED, forget it. Other than Sandra Bullock there was no
legitimate reason to include "Speed" in the title; all
other principals and the film's locale are different
, . . but hey, that's showbiz.

The excitement that was engendered in the original SPEED
is here not present until the last half hour when the
cruise ship heads for shore. Frantic, yes; exciting,
no. Annie Porter (Bullock) is very hyper when she is
careening thru Venice, CA., behind the wheel in a
driving test being given by Dept of Motor Vehicles' Mr.
Kenter (Tim Conway . . . funny but doing his usual
befuddled routine). In the film's subsequent scenes
aboard ship Bullock continues her frantic behavior,
probably trying to stir up the excitement that is not

Alex Shaw (Jason Patric) is the capable, daring hero.
He is also Annie's betrothed. Because it is the late
1990s it is no surprise that he does not tell his
fiancee the truth, in this case about his job. Instead
he says he is in some kind of law enforcement where he
arrests young pickpockets who frequent the Venice Beach
area when in fact he is on a SWAT team. Conveniently
(for the story), while Annie is careening around town
with one near miss after another she spies Alex crashing
his motorcycle in a chase after a criminal.

Annie is upset about Alex's dangerous job but he gets
around her by telling her what they need is a quiet,
relaxing 6-day cruise to the Caribbean. Annie readily
forgives him. That the cruise is anything but relaxing
comes as no surprise. Aboard ship is John Geiger (as
in "counter") (Willem Dafoe) who is a former employee of
the cruise line where he was the computer expert. Geiger
is more than a little annoyed at having been fired. He
is maniacal. He grins maliciously, his eyes roll in
their sockets, and he looks like a caricature of a
crazed villain. How best to get revenge on the cruise
line than by programming the engines and rudders and
anchors and whatever else it takes to have the ship ram
into another ship and sink

Fortunately, Alex is there to take on the evil genie.
All of the above, it seems to me, may sound more
exciting than the movie. Where the film became of
interest to me was when the special effects come into
play and we see, with camera low to the ground and
pointing up to make the most of the ship's height, what
appears as an irresistible force (the ship) approaching
its doom with nothing to stop it. Quite effective.

Directed by Jan De Bont

2.5 Bytes

4 bytes = Superb
3 bytes = Too good to miss
2 bytes = Average
1 byte = Save your money

Ben Hoffman

Michael J. Legeros

Jun 17, 1997, 3:00:00 AM6/17/97

A film review by Michael John Legeros
Copyright 1997 Michael John Legeros

Directed by Jan de Bont
Written by Randall McCormick and Jeff Nathanson, based on a story

by Jan de Bont and Randall McCormick

Cast Sandra Bullock, Jason Patric, Willem Dafoe, Temuera
Morrison, Brian McCardie, Christine Firkins, Royale

MPAA Rating "PG-13"
Running Time 125 minutes
Reviewed at General Cinemas at Pleasant Valley, Raleigh, NC


Sandra Bullock in high heels and wielding a chainsaw? Yup, it's
gotta be summer.

Just when you thought the pointless sequel had gone the way of
franchise films and direct-to-video releases, into port slams SPEED 2:
CRUISE CONTROL, the gloriously godawful follow-up to the 1994 sleeper
about a bus rigged to explode if it slowed below a certain speed. The
gimmick, this time, is an ocean liner rigged to, well, crash into stuff.
Sound exciting? Dennis Hopper's disgruntled bomb squader, the villain
of the first film, has given way to Willem Dafoe's disgruntled computer
programmer, a maniac whose main beef has something to do with having to
use live leeches, I kid you not, as a self-treatment for copper poison-
ing. (And said poisoning induced by prolonged exposure to electro-
magnetic fields, no less! Calling Dean Edell...) So, he overrides the
boat's computer, convinces the crew to abandon ship, and sends the
remaining passengers, those who couldn't evacuate in time, on a col-
lision course with destiny. (Oddly, no one thinks to just... jump off
the back of the boat.)

With Keanu Reeves electing not to return-- perhaps he read the
script?-- the job of John McClane goes to Jason Patric (SLEEPERS), as
the *second* LA cop and SWAT team member that that bus drivin' babe
Annie (Bullock) has dated. (What are the odds?) They're on this
Caribbean cruise for pleasure, as are a handful of requisite stock
characters, including a deaf teenager (!) who has a crush on the hero
(!!) who also knows how to sign (!!!). (And you thought the Raptor Slam
was a cool summer movie move? Wait till you see the feats that *this*
little girl can do, when stuck on a shipboard elevator!) Bullock is her
pesky, perky self, though she ends up with far less screen time than her
top billing suggests. (Those paying attention to her bikini- and tank-
tops probably won't complain, however) Patric is the main man in motion
and that's damn good, 'cause when he stops to talk, he's only slightly
less monotone than his predecessor. (His first LOL line is to Ms.
Bullock: "I'd like to boogie with you.")

Of course, nobody in front of the camera embarrasses themselves
quite the way that returning director Jan de Bont does. He also
produced this mess, which is insulting even by the most lax summer
is forgiven). Worse, he's spent a hundred mil on a premise that doesn't
even live up to its title! There's no sweat-inducing motion of the
ocean here-- just two hours of shaky handheld camera work and a handful
of cross-cut exteriors, all leading up to the big slam, when the love
boat sideswipes an oil tanker and then plows into a harbor town. (Oh,
how far we've come in twenty years. Remember the simple fun of seeing a
locomotive smash into railway station in THE SILVER STREAK?) Admittedly,
either of the aforementioned sequences is worth the price of admission.
It's just the rest of the movie-- the other hundred or so minutes--
that's pure nonsense. And wonderful nonsense at that. I know he didn't
intend to, but de Bont has done one thing right: he's created the
hands-down funniest film of the year.

So, now, allow to present a few more things that made me laugh:

o a box with a big label: "fiber optic converter"

o plain English, whole-sentence computer instructions

o an entire sequence devoted to opening a fire door

o Jason Patric's character walks onto the bridge and immediately
understands everything that's happening

o a ships' navigator who speaks in a Scottish accent and actually
gets to say "I canna override it!"

o Willem Dafoe's amazing arm-mounted keyboard

o two living, breathing adults (Bullock's character and the First
Mate) who have to be told, step by step, how to disconnect a trip
wire from the pin of a hand grenade. Duh

o "No wait!" screams the ship's intercom

o yet another damn dog in peril

o fishing reel. Pontoon plane. Memories of WEEKEND AT BERNIE'S

o an oil tanker that explodes for no apparent reason.

Any others?

Grade: F

(Or, as a comedy, Grade: A)

Mike Legeros
Corporate Training
SAS Institute Inc, Cary, NC, USA, Earth
mailto: (w) (h)

Steve Kong

Jun 17, 1997, 3:00:00 AM6/17/97

A film review by Steve Kong
Copyright 1997 Steve Kong

Director Jan De Bont has yet to have a strong script to work with. Look at
Twister and Speed. But what he's had going for him is a sense of fun in
directing. Speed was not well received by critics, but the audience thought
different, and the movie became an instant summer hit. This was rightfully so,
Speed was a joyride and it was fun. Twister experienced the same from the
critics and the audience. But Twister was not as fun as Speed, the main
attraction there was its special effects. Speed 2 has begun to receive the
warm reviews from the critics and how it will be received by the audience is
still up in the air. For me though, Speed 2 is just like its older siblings, a
fun movie that is a joyride and has some spectacular special effects to be

Annie (Sandra Bullock) and her new boyfriend Alex (Jason Patrick) are at a
standpoint in their relationship. She's also not too happy about him being on
"the suicide squad." He has the perfect plan though, a cruise. Geiger (Willem
Dafoe) is a disgruntled ex-employee on the cruise also. Geiger has planted
bombs all over the ship and is ready to sink it. But, why would he want to go
through all this trouble to sink a ship? You'll have to see the film to find
that out, he actually has two reasons for sinking the ship. Alex, being the
tough guy he is, stays behind with some trapped cruise-goers to stop the
madman. Annie stays to try to help Alex out.

How much can happen on a cruise boat? A lot more than can happen on a bus.
There are fights with fires, fights with a 12-foot propeller, fun with
grenades, fun on lifeboats, and even an elevator scene.
Sandra Bullock is still as likeable as she was in the original. I was
pleasantly surprised with Jason Patrick's performance. His character was
higher likeable and he did an excellent job at playing Alex. Willem Dafoe
gives a mixed performance as Geiger. Although he is a sick crazed man, his
character swings too much. Sometimes seeming very intelligent and other times
acting like an idiot nuthouse.

The action sequences work really well, though they could have been better. I
often wondered when watching the action sequences, "Who substituted the home
hand held cam for the real camera?" The cinematographer, Jack Green, used some
very shaky shots during the action sequences. And instead of showing how much
chaos is really in the scene, it serves only to frustrate the viewer. The
opening motorcycle sequence was a little contrived and had a TV feel to it.
But after that, the action gets up to speed and is of a higher caliber. I
enjoyed most the propeller sequence and the Cruise vs. Oil Tanker sequence.

The sound in Speed 2 is worth mentioning. The sound is incredible and should
be seen in a DTS equipped theatre.

Speed 2 is an action movie and makes no other efforts, and that is what makes
it so enjoyable. If you got a fancy for some tense action then go see Speed 2.
This film is fun.

steve kong ( personal:(
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