Forget about Keanu Reeves... there's a new guy on the scene! At least that's what the studio was counting on the audience to think. How desperate they were, and naïve to think that it was Sandra Bullock who made the first movie bankable. Her presence in this ludicrous sequel makes it astronomically far fetched, even more so than it's flimsy premise. In turning down SPEED 2 Keanu Reeves went on to become one of Hollywood's most enduring action stars while Jason Patric – in accepting the role - endured a lacklustre career playing second fiddle in forgettable films and mediocre DTV titles. As for Sandra Bullock... it was sheer luck that she prevailed to the heights of Hollywood, because she is fucking atrocious in this stupid sequel.
The first movie was described as “Die Hard on a bus”, and I can imagine the creatives behind SPEED 2 brainstorming the new synopsis in a half-witted think-tank. In my mind some smartass jested “Die Hard on a boat!” only to have the execs declare “Brilliant! We already have an abandoned script for Die Hard 3, lets use that." (true). I guess they forgot about the Steven Seagal movie UNDER SEIGE, which had already exploited that idea. Needless to say there isn't a shred of originality in SPEED 2, and the entire movie relies on cliché, plagiarism and audience gullibility.
That makes me gullible. Very gullible... because I really like SPEED 2. There, I said it. I like SPEED 2. It's true. The problem with the movie is that it's SPEED 2. The studio would have been smarter to have made it a stand-alone action flick with no reliance on past glory. Sure it would have attracted criticism and comparisons, but having it stand alone would have removed much of its absurdness.
Bullock's character goes on a cruise ship vacation in the Caribbean with her new boyfriend (another special ops cop) only to find themselves at the mercy of a crazed madman who takes the ship hostage and threatens to blow the whole damn thing up. We've seen it all before, but what makes SPEED 2 appealing (at least to me) is its fanciful nature and its strange ensemble of players.
Willem Dafoe steps into Dennis Hopper's shoes as the crazed bad guy with his finger on the trigger. Dafoe's casting is a real head-scratcher and his calibre of talent is miles beyond this sort of fluff. But then again, he is only human after all and the allure of a hefty pay check would have been too good to refuse. At the very least he brings credibility to the proceedings, which is invaluable when you consider the pitiful assortment of support actors. They include Colleen Camp, Victoria Jackson, Tim Conway and Glenn Plummer... YES, Glenn Plummer from the first SPEED... as in that black guy whose car is destroyed on the freeway. He returns to have the exact same thing happen again (how clever). There are also a few respectable figures scattered about, such as Tamuera Morrison and Bo Stevenson, but their placement amongst the rabble is strange and pointless.
Wow, I really am heaping the shit on SPEED 2 rather thickly... best I mention why I like it. Despite Sandra Bullock's atrocious performance and regardless of the script being a patchwork of countless other films, the movie is balls-to-the-wall fun. It's dumb and it's action-packed. Renowned action practitioner Jan de Bont returns to this sequel and turns the dials up to eleven. The stupidity of the movie wasn't lost on him and so he chose to make it as brazen as possible. The scene that perhaps reflects his intentions best is when the ship runs aground in the final act. Not content to simply crash the cruise-liner into the sore, de Bont went nuts and drove in to a crowded marina... and then into all of the shops.... and then into the surrounding village... and then into the jungle.... and further still. The fucking thing just keeps going and going. It is hilarious and it is AWESOME!!!
SPEED 2 is twenty-years old and it remains one of the most highly ridiculed movies of all time. It was such a colossal failure that it reserves a pathetic 3% rating on Rotten Tomatoes and it killed any chance of an ongoing franchise. But my God... if it isn't a shitload of fun.