Los Angeles SWAT cop Jack Traven is on the tail of an ex-bomb squad sergeant with a creative flair for bomb placement. First it’s a rigged elevator in a very tall building. Then it’s a rigged bus, if it slows, it will blow.
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Hands down some of the cleanest and most crisp action photography ever shot, Jan de Bont making a seamless transition from DP of genre favorites ("Die Hard," "Basic Instinct") to the director's chair. Onscreen, Keanu Reeves successfully sheds his slacker persona to portray the first true action star for the grunge era, a steely-cool but sincere cop who doggedly throws himself in harm's way. Endlessly rewatchable.
The only point of the film are the bus sequences, gripping and which stand up against 16 or 17 years of American action cinema immensely, but everything around it is far too flimsy to sustain the whole thing as a good film. If far more concentration was made on letting Dennis Hopper and Keanu Reeves enjoy themselves as well as the bus sequences this could have been more than the film about a bomb on a bus.
A straight up summer blockbuster action movie. Speed is fun, without being very plausible, and they key of it's succes is that everything -- the sound, the camerawork, the editing, even the acting at times -- is done with talent and conviction. Suspension of disbelief works here.