'Get ready for rush hour' Speed's tagline reads. If that, coupled with the premise, doesn't tell you everything you need to know about this movie's tone, then nothing will. Keanu Reeves plays the role of Jack Traven, an LAPD SWAT officer that finds himself in the middle of a high-stakes bomb plot aboard a speeding bus. The bomb, attached to the vehicle's underside, is rigged to detonate should the bus ever drop below 50mph.
It's a plot that's designed around the idea of non-stop action and constant tension. When considering the runtime of close to two hours, however, it's a miracle that such a simple concept managed to keep the audience entertained throughout. The movie does so with slightly silly developments such as a localised bomb that kills one passenger, along with very silly developments such as a freeway that is as yet incomplete, necessitating that the bus ratchet up to top speed in order to jump the gap.
Director Jan De Bont, famous for Twister and, erm, Lara Croft Tomb Raider: Cradle Of Life, truly understood the appeal of this potentially paper-thin concept and tapped into audience anxiety to create a fast-paced, endlessly enjoyable film that has since gone down in the pantheon of action greats.