Speed at 30: the greatest action movie of the 1990s

Speed at 30: the greatest action movie of the 1990s

Keanu Reeves and Sandra Bullock’s electrifying bus-set thriller acts as a reminder of just how good we used to have it

At a time of overwhelming entertainment bloat – budget, length, content, discussion – a ride back to the summer of 1994 and the brisk, brilliant economy of Speed feels like the satisfying small screen vacation we all deserve right now.

Dutch cinematographer turned director Jan de Bont’s breath-stealing action movie hasn’t gained any extra depth or allegorical meaning when rewatched 30 years later (it’s mercifully thinkpiece-proof in its earnest straightforwardness) but it has benefitted from a bleak comparison to where Hollywood is at this precarious moment. It’s been a mostly bummer summer at the box office with a panic over expensive big-bet films like The Fall Guy and Furiosa stumbling while the majority who choose streaming instead having to settle for murky, poorly-made dreck like Atlas, a much-watched yet much-loathed Netflix night-ruiner. We have a movie star problem both in quantitative and qualitative terms, too few A-listers under 50 still packing ‘em in and those who somewhat sometimes do, too often struggling to convince with their charisma credentials (see: Anyone But You). Action has gone from very bad to way worse with a lazy over-reliance on the alienation of digital over the immersion of physical and even bigger budgeted films are still lacking that crackle and texture of real film. Industry fear has also increased the amount of reboots, remakes and legacy sequels, all sleepwalking on fumes from years prior, zombies roaming the cinemas where humans used to be.

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