The movie that transformed Keanu Reeves into a bona fide action hero, Speed was also former cinematographer Jan De Bont’s assured directorial debut. It’s an almost perfect high-concept movie that lives up to its title both in the adroit choreography of the action set-pieces and Graham Yost’s taut screenplay, which is admirably stripped of all padding.
De Bont further heightens the excitement by his use of authentic locations as the out-of-control bus travels through, across and--in one unforgettable scene--a few feet in the air above the urban sprawl of LA. And instead of relegating the love interest to a dull subplot, here Sandra Bullock is an integral part of the action as she and her bus career around the city at 50-plus miles an hour. Even the opening credits neatly illustrate the film’s title, as does composer Mark Mancina’s pulsing score. Sensibly, Reeves passed on the ill-advised sequel and took on The Matrix instead; both screenwriter and director have yet to do anything better than this.