The 90s were a transitional period for action cinema in Hollywood. The great heroes of the previous decade such as Sylvester Stallone or Arnold Schwarzenegger were still at the foot of the gun, but other interpreters with a more conventional physique also emerged who managed to become real stars. My favorite will always be the case of Nicolas Cage, but that of Keanu Reeves it is also very noteworthy.
Reeves had already emerged in 1991 with ‘They call him Bodhi’, but it took three years to return to the action genre with ‘Speed: Maximum power’, a modern classic and one of the first titles that come to mind when I think of those movies that seek entertain above all else and they do it by far, no matter how many times you’ve seen it and that today you can recover in Neox from 22:00.
‘Speed: Maximum power’ could have been limited to being a kind of ‘Die Hard’ inside a bus. In fact, it was attempted that John McTiernan take care of the staging, something he discarded because the version of the script that came to his hands reminded him too much of the unforgettable action film starring Bruce Willis.
That does not mean that McTiernan’s shadow flies through the film when it comes to approaching the action scenes by a Jan de Bont who made his debut in front of a film after having served as a cinematographer in countless titles, including the “Die Hard” itself. This is evident in the precision when approaching the images, managing to maintain the tension at all times, even when the script incurs solutions that seek too much emotion over any type of verisimilitude.
That is precisely what keeps ‘Speed: Maximum power’ away from being one of the best action films of all time and not only from the 90s, since otherwise it is a film with very clear ideas who knows very well how to carry out everything that he raises, be it in the attempted terrorist attack in the elevator with which the show starts, inside the bus or in a final section, perhaps somewhat accessory but which fulfills its function more than anything.
Along the way, ‘Speed: Maximum power’ knows how to convey to the viewer the adrenaline rush that the characters themselves need so that that endless bus trip does not go wrong and one is more permissive with certain licenses that the script is taken so that the show is somewhat continuous, finding the perfect complement in that rivalry between the characters played by Reeves and Dennis Hopper.
It is true that they are very different ways of approaching that rivalry, but whenever I see ‘Speed: Maximum power’ I remember the multiple dialectical confrontations between Clint Eastwood y John Malkovich in ‘In the line of fire’, probably in part because of the temporal proximity between the two. That does not mean that I am aware that the show is more important here, but I also know that it would be a much less enjoyable film without that necessary chemistry between hero and villain and the continuous intelligence games between both.
I also do not want to forget how well the couple works, formed by Reeves and a Sandra Bullock that exudes naturalness, confirming here what he already transmitted in the very entertaining ‘Demolition Man’. Both Jack and Annie may be far from being icons of action movies, but both work wonderfully together and you think that a relationship between them can emerge from there.
Beyond that, ‘Speed: Maximum Power’ may have some scenes that border on stupidity, but the film knows how to move in waters in which others have sunk. I have no doubt that the work of Joss Whedon retouching the original script of Graham Yost It was key to this, but also having a good gallery of secondary characters to finish finding that necessary point of conviction, naturalness and credibility for us to have a great time with her.
‘Speed: Maximum power’ was a huge box office success, since it obtained a world-wide collection of 350 million dollars when its budget was of “only” 30 million. Logical that Fox were crazy to make a sequel that finally did not have Reeves and ended up failing, thus ending the franchise.
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one of the best action movies of the 90s that starred Keanu Reeves and Sandra Bullock