I'm a huge fan of the Jan de Bont thrill ride about a bomb on a bus. The two-hour spectacle has several key moments that were the epitome of action cinema in the '90s, making this a sort of masterpiece of the genre during its era.
Here is why Speed is probably the ultimate action flick from the '90s:
1. It Has A Cast Full Of Star Power
Coming off the success of Point Break and Bram Stoker's Dracula, Keanu Reeves was in the middle of being one of Hollywood's most sought-after male leads, leading to even bigger roles during the next decade, as well as Sandra Bullock, who'd just been seen in sci-fi action face-off Demolition Man. Veterans Dennis Hopper and Joe Morton — already known for their extensive filmography — complete the cast that guaranteed the film to make 11 times its $30 million budget.
2. The Story Is Edge-Of-Your-Seat Exciting
A plot about a deranged former cop that rigs a bus to explode if it slows to under 50mph? Now that's what I call high stakes!
There is nothing to dislike about the story Speed tells because it created the cliches in the first place without ever giving in to the simplicity of it's own device. The quantity of sub-plots — such as the initial meeting between our hero and the villain and everything that goes on inside the bus — as well as the solution to key conflicts coming along with perfect timing, making you hold your breathe every two minutes.
This is very much because of screenwriter Graham Yost and, the then unknown and uncredited, Joss Whedon, who rewrote the final script and is responsible for most of the dialogue. So yet again, we have Whedon to thank for the memorable catchphrase that leads this post.
3. The Soundtrack Bleeds Pure Action
Mark Mancina is responsible for the instantly recognizable main title, and it's variants throughout the score, as went on to create soundtracks for other successful action blockbusters vies from the '90s, such as Bad Boys and Con-Air.
4. It Inspired An Entire Generation Of Gripping Action Films
When it came out in 1994, Speed was hugely successful with its modern storytelling in an urban outfit, showing the world that extreme police work can be exciting. While Die Hard showed us a broken cop with an attitude (and most movies for the first half of the decade had a futuristic component to them), Speed took the reigns of the genre and gave it the facelift it needed, contributing to the progress of action films that ended up giving us Bad Boys, Drop Zone, The Rock and many others for the last 20 years. There wasn't a better time for action movies than 1994!
5. It's Impossible To Do It Twice (And They Tried!)
With the success of the Speed, it was only imaginable that 20th Century Fox would want to make a sequel, but logic defied how they could achieve it without repeating themselves. Three years later, the ironically titled Speed 2: Cruise Control was released and it was basically the same movie only on a boat — sorry, cruise ship. They also dragged Willem Dafoe into it and it was terrible!
Even 22 years since its release, Speed feels as timeless and has aged very well in today's Hollywood recycle monster, making it one of the best action flicks in recent history.
'90s action fans will appreciate the over-the-top gunfights, car chases, and ridiculous moments from the actions films in the video below:
What is your favorite movie from 1994?