Speed 2: Cruise Control

Jan De Bont, USA, 1997)


What on earth has happened to cinematographer-turned-director Jan De Bont? Since his stirring debut with Speed (1994) one of the finest and most exciting action movies of its decade he has sharply fallen to the depths of Twister (1996) and now the lame sequel Speed 2. Keanu Reeves is not around for the return ride this time by cruiser rather than bus but perhaps the more damaging absence is that of the original writer, Graham Yost.


In place of Keanu we have the bland Jason Patric as Alex, the new love interest of Annie (Sandra Bullock). She believes she has found a nice, stable guy ready to commit to a relationship, not some thrill-seeking, impulsive maniac. Alas, once aboard an ocean liner which has been rigged and sabotaged every which way from Wednesday by the villainous Geiger (Willem Dafoe), Annie will find out just what crazy stuff her guy is made of.


I have grown to hate those Hollywood actors and filmmakers who firmly claim that every ersatz, formulaic movie they make is in fact a character-piece full of noble lessons about learning, moral responsibility and personal growth. There are ham-fisted jabs in that direction in Speed 2, but they add nothing more to the film than any of the strained one-liner jokes or the fleeting grabs of pop music jammed into the noisy soundtrack.


The only small residue of fun in Speed 2 comes from the rich absurdity of Dafoe's role does every evil psycho in movies these days also have to be a technological wizard? and the spectacle of mass carnage in the final reel, as the ship sails straight into a Caribbean port town.


De Bont again uses the Twister formula: maximum destruction of property, compensated for by minimum blood, gore or death. This approach may well gladden the hearts of censors and ratings advisors around the world, but it makes for pretty poor action-drama.


MORE De Bont: The Haunting

© Adrian Martin September 1997

Film Critic: Adrian Martin
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