One of the quintessential action blockbusters of the 1990s, Jan De Bont’s “Speed” has aged moderately well. First, the bad: Keanu Reeves and Sandra Bullock both turn in stiff, wooden performances that don’t do much to overshadow their poor character development, but at least they both have so much charisma and share such strong onscreen chemistry that you find yourself rooting for them anyways. Dennis Hopper is pretty good as the antagonist, although he doesn’t quite carry the kind of menace and charm usually associated with male villains in action-thrillers of its era (like “Face/Off” or “Die Hard”) . But really, this is all about the action, and here, “Speed” delivers like Domino’s: The editing is tight, De Bont’s direction is confident and sure-handed, and although the plot has a “…and then this happens, and then this happens…” structure that could easily grow repetitive, the movie manages to stop just short of straining its audience’s patience or suspension of disbelief. Add in a memorable, instantly recognizable score and a treasure trove of dependable character actors, and you’ve got a mainstream blockbuster that rises above its flaws thanks to its ingredients mixing impressively well in the end.
Rating: ★★★★★ (out of 5)