Episode 80: Speed (1994)

Film chosen by listener Matthew Pinder

POP QUIZ HOTSHOT. We’re careening through the unfinished highways of Los Angeles with Jan de Bont’s explosive debut feature SPEED, courtesy of a listener request.

After thwarting an elaborate exploding elevator hostage situation, bomb disposal expert Jack Traven (Keanu Reeves) finds himself targetted by the enraged madman responsible (Dennis Hopper). The game? A bomb on a city bus. Once it goes above 50 mph, the bomb is armed. Drop below, and everybody goes kaboom. In the right place at the wrong time is passenger Annie (Sandra Bullock), deployed as emergency driver after the unfortunate regular Sam takes a stray bullet.

After establishing himself as one of the premiere popcorn cinematographers of his era, de Bont set the charges for his directorial career with this runaway hit. Firmly establishing Bullock in the upper echelons of Hollywood, and cementing a post-Point Break Keanu as an action cinema superstar, the film transcended its Die-Hard-on-a-bus origins to become one of the biggest grossers of 1994. But, can those analogue nineties thrills survive in the modern era? Join Gali, Devlin, Patrick and Matt as they hop aboard and hang on tight.

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