Friday, 26 March 2010

Speed: The Forgotten Legend

Nobody mentions Speed these days. It's fantastic, it should get a mention every day on the news as a reminder of how good action films can be. I can hear Huw Edwards now: "And finally, don't forget the clocks go forward this weekend, or that Speed remains a classic example of the action genre 16 years on. And now, the weather."

There are several people who should be remembered for their contribution to Speed, and The Incredible Suit is pleased to give them a 'shout out' or a 'big up' or whatever the kids call it these days.

Graham Yost, Writer
Speed's story structure is flawless. Mildly exciting lift sequence, pause for coffee, heart-attack-inducingly thrilling and clinically constructed second act, pause to collect ransom, silly but gripping final act on train, kiss, the end. And there are just the right amount of quiet, emotional beats at just the right times so you don't get worn out.

Also, "Yeah... well I'm taller": genius.

Graham Yost has written nothing as good, before or since.

Jan de Bont, Director
De Bont sensibly doesn't worry too much about his actors - there's only so much you can get Keanu Reeves to do - and instead keeps his story constantly moving, like a shark. On a bus. There are almost no static shots in 116 minutes and - along with the zippy editing - it's what keeps the film from going below 50 and exploding.

De Bont also brought along some of the lens flares he had left over from when he was cinematographer on Die Hard. Sadly lens flares are now an endangered species since JJ Abrams depleted the global supply with Star Trek, but it was worth it.

Jan de Bont has directed nothing as good, before or since.

Mark Mancina, Score Composer
Speed's score is classic action film music. Its stabbing motif and rolling percussion are perfect accompaniments to the on-screen mayhem, and its softer moments accurately judged for the soppy bits. Sometimes it strays too far into '80s electronica, and Billy Idol over the end credits is unforgivable, but I'm assuming Mancina wasn't responsible for that.

Mark Mancina has composed nothing as good, before or since.

A man's gotta know his limitations, and Keanu does. The Incredible Suit respects him for that. He's also an amazing advert for white t-shirts, although if you put one on YOU WILL NOT LOOK LIKE HIM. I know from bitter experience. You'd think I'd have learned after the Bruce Willis / dirty vest episode.

As for Sandra, my heart goes out to her every time she hits that pram. I just want to give her a hug and tell her it'll be alright. She's perfect as Annie Porter. Yes, Porter. One who transports things to their destination.

Neither Reeves nor Bullock have been as good in anything before or since. Although Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure is close.

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  1. Yay for lens flare!

  2. It is interesting that cinematography lens defects like flares and distortion and limitations handling high contrast scenes are programmed into some computer games to make them more realistic.

  3. Also notice how no-one talks about The Mask (the Jim Carrey film, not the Cher one) any more? I'm sure they don't even show repeats of it on TV either.

    I'm with you on Speed though. (Not literally)

  4. Speed, The Mask... 1994 was full of great films nobody talks about any more. I mean, when was the last time you saw mention of Pulp Fiction?

  5. JULES know what they call a Quarter pounder with cheese in France?
    BRETT No.
    JULES Tell 'em Vincent.
    VINCENT A Royale with cheese.
    Lines like that from Pulp Fiction are quoted quite often. Last words to
    HONEY BUNNY Any of you fucking pricks move, and I'll execute every motherfucking one of ya!

  6. Oscar Wilde must be turnng in his motherfucking grave.

  7. Might be worth noting that Graham Yost hasn't written anything as good before or since because he hasn't had Joss Whedon script-doctoring his stuff before or since Speed.