I watched SPEED 2, sadly, back in August for Shitfest over at the The IPC. The idea, if you can’t gather, is to submit an article on an atrocious movie. Speed 2 fit the bill. I’ve sat on the article so that it would pop up first over there. Now that it has been up for a day, I thought I would toss it up here as well.
I watched SPEED 2: CRUISE CONTROL (1997) on 8.24.13. It was my second viewing of the film, and first since the late 90s.
Even the DVD for SPEED 2: CRUISE CONTROL sucks. I must have been in a blackout to have bought it fifteen years ago in the first place, but I did indeed have it on the shelf. I put it in the Blu Ray player and discovered that the settings on the DVD didn’t allow my TV to zoom in more than a little bit, only half filling the screen. I am all for watching things in their original ratio,in fact I hate watching anything but. This wasn’t a letterbox thing. What I’m trying to say is that the entire 2:35:1 box was surrounded by a black box which my TV couldn’t figure out.
Yes, even the DVD for this movie couldn’t even be bothered to try.
Ostensibly, this is a sequel to the better-than-it-should be 1994 action flick SPEED, only Keanu Reeves didn’t want to come back (he had more important things to do (like go on tour with his band, a fact that I am not making up). So they brought Sandra Bullock back to play Annie again. They brought in Jason Patrick to play new boyfriend Alex who has the same cop job her old boyfriend had. They even get the added bonus of the name Alex sounding like Jack when Sandra Bullock screams it. So if you squint real hard it is almost like Keanu never left.
Despite some pretty basic relationship flaws, Alex is planning on bringing Annie on a cruise. Spoiler alert: The cruise gets hijacked. Keeping in tradition with the first movie, there is just one singular bad guy. In this movie the honors are done by Willem Dafoe, who seems to be simultaneously mailing it in and preparing for his role as Green Goblin the further the movie drags on (see following picture for proof). Like his predecessor, Dafoe’s John Geiger doesn’t use guns per se. He likes computers. He uses computers to make bombs and take over the ship and to do other ominous things like close doors and turn on televisions.
In no particular order, here are a series of things which suck about this movie:
The action isn’t very good. First, it is often derivative of the first movie (more on that soon). More egregiously, it is boring and nonsensical. The climax has Alex using a fishing line to catch an airplane and then reeling himself in while the plane takes off out of water. Because, you know, it is entirely possible to hold onto a fishing rod while being dragged through the ocean by an airplane approaching takeoff speed. If that was written into a James Bond movie in the 90s, Pierce Brosnan would have turned that shit down right before he outran a laserbeam from space.
The auxiliary characters are meaningless and annoying. In the first SPEED the bus was filled with people who, though perhaps annoying, were clearly marked characters who we came to understand. We grew with them as we were all stuck with them, culminating in those nice moments which occur both right before the highway jump and right when they get off the bus. They become a little family in the course of those two hours. SPEED 2? Not so much. There is a deaf girl played by Chistine Firkins (herself actually deaf) who is one of the only likable characters in the entire movie. Other than that, everyone else is either annoying, ineffective comic relief, or useless.
The movie breaks its own logic way too many times. Let me set up a scene. Alex is pinned down in a room with a madman who, from the safety of a 3×3 bank of tv monitors, is telling us (for the the third time) the reason he is trying to blow up this boat . Does Alex use his police skills to move through the room? No. He takes several minutes to use his few remaining shells to shoot out the TVs. None of this does anything other than break glass. The guy keeps talking. Magically, the dimming television light somehow allows Alex to see the shadow of the badguy down a hallway. Nevermind that ceiling lights are swinging and there is illogically burning fire, and not all the TVs are off. If he hadn’t shot those screens, Willem Dafoe would still be alive today.
The switch to PG-13. I am not inherently against action movies which drop from R to PG-13 for their sequels. It’s just that I have never seen an example of this working. When a movie series starts off as PG-13, when that is the tone of the universe, it works. But there are plenty of good early-series R rated movies getting money thrown at them and then dropping to a PG-13 rating and becoming soft and complacent. See: DIE HARD, CHRONICLES OF RIDDICK, and, well, SPEED 2.
That take every action movie has when an extra is doing something mundane and sees something big coming at them in illogical circumstances (ie. a cruise ship sliding down a street) and the person either A) drops their jaw and screams, B) looks amazed and backs off, C) gets their vehicle destroyed, D) is a child, so acts like it is normal, E) is a cute dog so we suddenly spend several moments cutting back and forth to them t make sure they are safe. Because, just so you know, this movie has no less than 20 of those shots in the last twenty minutes of this movie. I wish I was exaggerating.
Nobody involved in this movie cares about this movie. Sandra Bullock looks like she is merely collecting a paycheck (in fact, she is collecting a paycheck specifically to get her movie HOPE FLOATS funded). Jason Patrick is fine enough, but is clearly just excited to be making a movie (don’t believe me, look at the picture at the end of this paragraph). Willem Dafoe can’t believe he is in this shit. Director Jan de Bont has a cow flying out of an exploding fuel tanker at one point because he made TWISTER so he needs to have flying cows in everything now apparently. Even the computer networking device Dafoe uses is labeled, in giant set decorator’s letters, FIBER OPTIC CONVERTER because even the goddamn electronics don’t give a shit about this movie.
The characters suck. Nevermind that Dafoe chooses to kill people, or not, on a whim. He kills a captain, but lets a concierge live for no other reason than to let that character annoy us for the rest of the movie. Let’s forget, also, the annoying guy who counts down the number of knots the boat is moving as it slowly pushes through land at the climax. He’s the equivalent of a play-by-play guy for a session of watching paint dry. Let’s, for now, just stick with our leads and how much they suck.
The movie starts with Annie trying to past a driving test. She is the worst driver on Earth. Much worse than when she drove the bus in SPEED. The movie is already starting off poorly and without any logic from the first film carrying over. She confronts her boyfriend about not lying to her. It is mentioned that neither has a had a relationship this long. Only Alex has been lying about his job all along because he doesn’t want Annie to know he has the same job Jack did. Their entire relationship is a lie. Fortunately, he wants to take her on a cruise. So she forgives him. No problem. But I have to say that I spent the first thirty minutes of the movie trying to figure out what she saw in him. He was moody, he lied, he acts like a jealous prick when she talks to someone, he’s stiff and doesn’t seem to want to have fun, and he seems to be everything she complains Jack was. That’s not a good way to build a leading man. But whatever. Oh, about that fight they had…
Coincidences happen at an alarming rate. Any writer worth their salt knows there is a fine line not to cross wherein you lose your audience through too many coincidences. Every script relies on them at least a little. If you can mask them, you are much better off. SPEED 2 embraces them. The fact that Alex has the same job Jack did allows Joe Morton to come back as the boss for one scene. The aforementioned fight happens when Annie’s driving test careens into the car chase Alex is involved in leading to her learning of his real job. But, he says, saving himself, he was about to tell her everything that night! A bullshit lie right? Well, sure, except for the fact that he has a CRUISE BROCHURE AND TICKETS IN HIS FUCKING POCKET. So there’s that. Then, of course, Annie is on a hijacked vehicle again. Then Alex knows sign language because he wanted to learn another language (that makes him endearing). Then the bombs go off right as Alex is about to propose. Then, in the best of all I-don’t-give-a-shit moments, de Bont brings back Glenn Plummer who had his car commandeered by Keanu in the first SPEED. Seems he has bought a boat with the same name as the license plate on the car Keanu took. And he happens to be in the right place when Alex needs to commandeer a boat to chase the bad guy here. It’s jaw-droppingly obvious. And the movie has sucked so hard for so long by this point (and Alex hasn’t even gone airplane fishing yet) that we just want to flip the table and storm out of the room.
And, finally, the most egregious of them all:
This movie is absurdly lazy to the point of just stealing bits from the first SPEED. So I understand that there has to be some tie to the first movie. Well, really, there doesn’t. Just take the money and make a different movie. But, working under the premise that we do have to make a Keanu-free SPEED 2, Annie really should be enough to tie the movies together. Then you want to add some element of the titular concept to the movie, so you play on the idea from the first movie and make it so the villain controls the speed of the boat. Then you decide to only bring in just one villain. This is dangerous. You need a PERFECT concept to make this work (one of the miracles of the first SPEED is how well it manages to walk this line). Then, you bring back a bunch of people for needless cameos. Joe Morton comes back, Tuneman comes back, heck even the frickin’ bus comes back for the last shot (and I could swear they got the same driver, though you don’t see him too well). They would have brought Dennis Hopper back to drag Dafoe down into hell, but I hear he was doing drugs that day.
Anyway, all of that sucks. But then you also add in the fact that they want to mimic the action from the first one. A scene with Alex pulling people from a boat is very much like Jack pulling folks from an elevator. There is a scene where Alex, and just believe me if you haven’t seen it: they actually do this, goes under the cruise ship on a rope to throw something into the propellers. Of course, when things go wrong, he uses his man strength to pull himself back up and out of danger. But this is so obviously a ripoff of Jack going under the bus as to be laughable. We also are privy to Annie being kidnapped and held by the killer again. We get to witness an ending which mirrors the first movie almost exactly. There was a point where the boat was racing towards land and I really, without irony or sarcasm, was really sure that Jason Patrick was going to say “We need to jump the pier. Get a head of steam, we’re going to jump it.”
In conclusion, this movie is absolutely horrendous. It is the worst mix of apathy, laziness, money-grabbing, character indifference, terrible writing, eye-rolling action, overly-long and general all-out suckiness. Oh, and it has some of the worst film music of all time. The first scene with Annie and Alex is one of the worst scored scenes in film history.
I hate this movie.
FILM: 2; MOVIE: 4; ACTING: 3; WRITING: 1; BONUS: -1
FINAL SCORE: 2.25