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Speed 2: Cruise Control
Starring Sandra Bullock, Jason Patric and Willem Dafoe
Screenplay by Randall McCormick and Jeff Nathanson
Directed by Jan De Bont

IN SHORT: Fun to watch, Speed 2 delivers the best singular explosion of the Summer.

Speed 2 is a decidedly different animal than it's predecessor, the bus bound Speed. The bus is now a luxury liner on the high seas and Sandra Bullock's Annie character is now more of an action figure. This sequel is also a helluva lot funnier than the first, which is important since the thrills are not as great. The important part of this 'graph are the words "Decidedly Different Animal" and I'll get back to that in a bit.

Here's the parts you expect: One studly man, police-type, Alex Shaw (Jason Patric) who has to do the right thing regardless of risk to life and limb. One nutzoid bad guy named John Geiger (Willem Dafoe), a high tech weenie with a nose for destruction and motives he'll tell you just before he sets the boat on a crash course for the cliffs of St. Martin. And the presence of Sandra Bullock, who makes everything all right with the world.

What you don't get, and this is to director Jan De Bont's credit, is wall to wall explosions start to finish. There is only one, ultimate whammo and it's a great one. Once the film kicks into high gear, about half an hour in, you get nonstop action that's fun to watch, but not the gripping edge of your seat thrills that we all hope for. As for character development, it's minimal, which is in keeping with most summer action flix.

Where Speed 2 fails is this: virtually all of us, I'd guess, have experience on a bus of some kind. We can empathize and feel the actual physical terror of being on board this mode of transport gone out of control. That was the brilliance of the previous edition. It may have been a great idea to set this one on a boat but...

Everyone out there that has been on a luxury liner at sea, raise your hands. That's OK, I'll wait.

Yep, no common experience. A bus we know. A boat on the open sea doesn't give you a sense of power until it hits something. As well, we may understand the idea of drowning, but the actual experience is, for most of us, off the common road. Which lets us sit back to watch for a) how Bullock and Patric stop the boat and b) how mega-loony toon Willem Dafoe buys the farm. Spectacularly to the first, and with one whopper of an aforementioned whammo of an explosion to the latter.

Here's the "different animal" part: Speed 2 is funny. Bullock's Annie is now deliriously in love, except for when she's not -- it's that great stage where something may or may not be happening, and perfect for Bullock. Patric's pretty much a wet rag, but supporting characters keep kicking out one liners as the luxury liner runs amok on the high seas.

On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Eight Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price to Speed 2: Cruise Control, he would have paid...


It's fun, which is about all you need on a hot summer's day.

Click to buy films by Jan De Bont
Click to buy films starring Sandra Bullock
Click to buy films starring Jason Patric

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