Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Pop Quiz, Hotshot!

Director: Jan De Bont
Cast: Keanu Reeves, Sandra Bullock, Dennis Hopper, Joe Morton, Jeff Daniels
Released: June 10, 1994

Oscar nominations:

Best Sound (won)
Best Sound Effects Editing (won)
Best Editing (lost to Forrest Gump)

Speed is one of those movies I wished I had been able to see in the theaters. It's probably been a good ten years since I last saw it and I was getting very into the movie; screaming and shrieking at my TV and holding my breath at certain times and I can only imagine what it would have been like to see it in a theater full of enthusiastic movie goers. This has to be one of those movies that is a great movie theater going experiences. The most recent one I had of those is last year when I saw Jurassic World and you could just feel a palpable excitement in the air and someone was even humming the theme song before the movie started. 

This movie, simply put, is AMAZING! I love it so much! If you haven't seen this movie for whatever reason, what are you waiting for?? Go see it now! Everyone knows this movie as the "Bomb on the bus movie." There are three acts to this movie and the "bomb on the bus" part is the second act, and of course, the longest. But before we get to that, we need a little backstory first.

Keanu Reeves and Jeff Daniels play L.A. SWAT team members Jack Traven and Harry Temple who are called to an office building where a mad man named Howard Payne (Dennis Hopper) has rigged an elevator full of 13 people with explosions and is threatening to detonate it unless he gets three million dollars. Everyone is rescued and nobody dies, but there are some close calls and when the last person is rescued from the elevator, seconds later it comes crashing down to the ground and smashes into smithereens. Jack and Harry find Payne, but he escapes and detonates his bomb and everyone 
thinks he's dead....OR IS HE???

The next scene is the medal ceremony of Jack and Harry accepting their medals for rescuing the 13 people in the elevator. I have no idea how much time has elapsed since the actual accident. One day? One week? One month? Hell if I know! But we are getting closer to the second act of the movie and this is when things start to get good. A bus explodes after Jack has gotten some coffee and exchanged some friendly words with the bus driver who he seemed to know. Luckily, no one else was on the bus. I had totally forgotten about the exploding bus and it kinda startled me when it happened! As he's running towards the bus to see if the bus driver made it (does he really think anyone could survive that??), he hears a pay phone nearby ringing. Haha, a pay phone! Well, it WAS 1994! He answers the phone and surprise, surprise, it's Howard Payne, the mad man. I should mention that the ceremony was televised and we see a scene of a man with a thumb missing clapping when Jack gets his medal and it is revealed to be Payne. He tells Jack that he's very upset that he messed up his elevator job because he had taken three years to plan this and now he has planted a bomb on a bus! Um, so it took three years to plan the elevator bomb, but a bus bomb only takes a month to plan? I want to know how much time elapsed!! I'm so confused. He tells Jack, "Pop quiz, hotshot. There's a bomb on a bus. Once the bus goes 50 miles an hour, the bomb is armed. If it drops below 50, it blows up. What do you do? WHAT DO YOU DO?" He got the "pop quiz" part from Harry who said that to Jack in the first act when they were trying to figure out what to do. Jack tells him he'd want to know what bus it is and Payne tells him it's the bus numbered 2525. He obviously wanted Jack to find the bus because he easily and readily gives him not only the bus number, but also the location of where the bus left from so Jack races to catch the bus which is now getting on the freeway....and for eight a.m. in Los Angeles, it doesn't look THAT busy. It's busy enough that the bus is still below 50 (we see close ups of the speedometer every few minutes and it does get a bit higher each time). Oh, remember the bus that just exploded? Well, several minutes has passed and there are NO police cars or firetrucks that have come to investigate it or put out the fire. You think someone would have called 911 when they saw an exploding bus, no?

Jack really needs to find this bus and soon because Payne said he will turn off the bomb if he gets his 3.7 million dollars by eleven a.m. and it's eight right now. He races around the other cars as much as he can. The traffic is slowing down because of construction and he gets caught in the roadwork and decides to get out his car and run to the bus and screams at the bus driver to open his doors. Well, of course the driver isn't going to open the doors if they see some random dude running and screaming to be allowed to get on the bus. And he also hits the door with his fist and breaks the glass...would you let somebody like that on a bus? No, I don't think so! And like Sam (the bus driver) said, "This ain't no bus stop!" I don't understand why he didn't just flash his badge and then I can see him being able to get on the bus. The traffic starts to let up and the bus gains some speed. Jack stops a black man in a convertible with a license plate that says TUNEMAN and flashes his badge at him and the guy exclaims, "This is my car! It's not stolen!" and Jack replies, "It is now!" At least he let the guy sit in the passenger seat instead of making him get out like so many other movies do when the main character needs a car and just steals it from some poor soul and makes them get out, probably to never see their car again.

He catches up to the bus and motions for the driver to roll his window down so he can yell, "There's a bomb on your bus!" Because of the wind, the driver can't hear him, so Jack's passenger has to relay the message and after he says, "There's a bomb on your bus!", he realizes what's he saying and turns to Jack and says, "WHAT?!" By this time the bomb has activated because the bus has now reached 50 mph. Jack wants his passenger to write "BOMB ON BUS!" on a piece of paper and hold it up so the driver can see it. He pulls in front of the bus and the guy holds up the sign, but it blows out of his hands and right into the windshield of the bus where the driver sees it before it blows away. Naturally, he lifts his foot off the gas pedal as anyone would do in that situation. Your first inclination would be to stop a vehicle that has a bomb on it and evacuate it! Realizing the bus is starting to slowly down, Jack drives next to the bus and tells him to open the door and tells him to make sure he keeps the bus over 50 mph. He asks his passenger if his car is insured and when he learns that it is, he speeds up ahead of the bus, opens the door, then slams on the brakes so the bus comes by and rips the door off. He tells the man to take the wheel so he can jump on the bus and while he's doing that, a passenger (played by Alan Ruck), who is visiting L.A., takes a photo of him. Now, if this movie were made today, the guy would be taking a video of him and uploading it to social media!

As far as the passengers go, we only really get to know a handful of them. Including the driver and Jack, there are 19 people on the bus. Being that the movie takes place in Los Angeles, there is a diverse group of people on the bus. The driver is African-American; there is an elderly African-American couple and a couple African-American women on the bus; there's an elderly Asian woman; there's a couple of Latino guys; and there are some white people. Obviously the passenger that has the most screen time is the one played by Sandra Bullock, Annie. Even though Bullock had been in a handful of movies before this, Speed was really the movie that catapulted her career. She has been taking the bus lately because her license was revoked for speeding. When she first gets on the bus, she's talking to a passenger named Helen who tells her she likes taking the bus so she can relax all the way to work without worrying about traffic. Oh, haha, movie, how funny! When Jack jumps on the bus, Annie asks him if he's crazy and demands to know what's going on. A young Hispanic guy charges at him with a gun, thinking the police is there for him. I wonder what he did? You know, we never do find out. Jack takes out his gun and points it at him and tells him he doesn't care about what he did and explains about the bomb. A big guy that Jacks nicknames "Gigantor" attacks the guy with the gun and the gun ends up going off and shoots the bus driver in the shoulder. Annie takes over driving the bus and Jack knows she'll be good for the job when she admits to him that her license was revoked for speeding.

Jack has Doug, the tourist, call Harry (he took the car phone from the car he hijacked) so he can tell him about the bomb. He is able to lift a floor panel on the bus so he can look underneath the bus at the bomb. There's a funny moment when Jack says "F**k me!" and Doug hesitates for a moment and translates it as "Oh, darn." The reason Jack had such a reaction is because there was "enough C4 o put a hole in the world." Annie sees that traffic is starting to back up again and wants to know where they should go and Jack tells her to get on the shoulder at the next exit to get off and she does and she is just ramming into poles and signs and other cars. It is such a hot mess! She is now off the freeway and has to run through red lights and has a scary close call when a lady with a baby carriage is crossing the street and she hits the carriage and it goes flying through the air. Naturally, she is freaking out because she just thinks she killed a baby, but then it is revealed - thank God - that the carriage was only full of cans and they go everywhere when the carriage lands.

They now have a police escort which Jack's boss, Mac (Joe Morton) has arranged for them. The police cars go past a teacher with a group of kids waiting to cross the street and after they pass, the teacher thinks it's okay for them to cross now. Apparently they didn't see the huge bus that comes whizzing by and jump back just in time. Mac has also arranged for the bus to be escorted to the 105 Freeway which hasn't been open to the public yet, so they will be able to cruise on that for awhile without worrying about obstacles while they think of a way to safely get the people off of the bus. Mac wants to transfer the passengers from the bus to a flatbed truck that the police are driving next to them, but Jack tells him they can't do that because Payne told him if any passengers get off the bus, then he will detonate the bomb. Jack knows that Payne will know because there are news helicopters above them so he knows they are being shown on TV. He gets a call from Payne (he called the police and asked to speak to Jack) who tells him he better be careful. Jack asks him if he can at least unload the bus driver who's been shot as a show of good faith and tells him it might help him get his money faster. Payne agrees to this arrangement but says he better not let anyone else off. After Sam has safely been transferred, Helen decides to go for it and as a police officer is reaching out to help her, Payne detonates a smaller bomb that he has placed on the first step and she falls and slips under the bus. This is when all the passengers realize that this whole ordeal is real now and they're all very shaken up by the death of one of their fellow passengers. Even though I know the movie would have ended right here if it had happened, I do wonder why Payne didn't detonate the entire bus like he told Jack he would if any passengers got off the bus and he could clearly see that was what Helen was doing. Guess he just wanted to give him a scare before he decided to kill EVERYONE.

As if losing one passenger wasn't bad enough, they soon get more bad news when Mac informs them that a section of an overpass on the highway up ahead is missing....about fifty feet! Jack tells everyone to put their stuff under their seats and cover their heads. OMG....if I were on this bus, I would be so scared! I mean, I would already be scared in the first place because of the, you know, BOMB, but if I were informed that the bus I was riding on was about to jump a 50 foot gap in the freeway, I'd be thinking, Oh, HELL NO! He tells Annie to speed up and just seconds before they reach the gap, he grabs her and covers her head and the bus makes its leap and lands on the other side. It's a little (okay, A LOT!) bumpy, but everyone is okay and they all cheer. I'm sorry, but I call BS on this. There's no way that bus would have been able to jump that! But I loved it!

Jack tells Annie to get off at the next exit which takes them to the airport. This way they can just cruise around the runway in circles. He is granted permission by Payne to get off the bus (he tells them if he is able to get off, his money will more likely be delivered to him). He goes under the bus on a wooden plank with wheel to see if he can diffuse the bomb while talking to Harry, but while that is going on, the bus hits some debris on the runway (uh....I would hope they cleared that debris before any planes took off on that runway!) and Jack gets caught up and he almost goes under the back wheel, but manages to stab the oil tank with his screwdriver and lets go of the wheely device and it goes under the wheel and Annie starts freaking out, thinking they have run over Jack. Ortiz, the passenger Jack nicknamed "Gigantor", looks under the panel and sees Jack hanging onto the bottom of the bus and pulls him up through the panel door. Doug asks him, "Did you have any luck with the bomb?" and Jack replies with, "Yeah, it didn't go off!" Jack is safe, but the bus is now leaking gas and they are about to have an empty tank. Jack realizes that Payne is able to see them because he has hooked up the bus's camera to a TV in his home. He tells Mac this and he gets a TV news crew person to record the bus and then play it so Payne thinks he's watching a live stream of the bus, but it's actually just a tape and this way they are able to transport everyone from the bomb bus to a safe bus. Payne only notices this when everyone is off the bus and it has run into a plane and exploded.

We now get into the third act of the movie and while still exciting and full of suspense, this is where it sort of drops off for me. The reason why I watch this movie is for the bomb on the bus! And not only do we not have a bus with a bomb on it anymore, we no longer even have a bus! The SWAT team has found out that Howard Payne is a former police officer who feels he deserves a lot more than what he got when he retired. Harry and a team go to his home, only to find a huge bomb (of course) that goes off and kills them all. Payne poses as a police officer and tells Annie that she needs to come with him. (Remember, he knows what she looks like from the camera on the bus). When Payne doesn't show up to collect his money where he instructed the police to put it, Jack knows something is up. Now instead of a bus, the movie is taking place on a subway! Jack finds Payne with Annie who has a bomb strapped to her. Payne takes her on a subway. He is holding a controller and if he lets go of the button, the bomb will explode. See, I would rather have a controller where I pushed the button rather than have to hold it down. I would be so worried that my finger would slip! Whenever I'm in a really long line at a drive-thru, I'm always worried my foot is going to come off my brake so if I know I'll be there for awhile, I'll just put my car in park. That's weird, I know. Jack gets on the subway and climbs on top of the car that Annie and Payne are in and Payne gives the remote to Annie to hold (after killing the subway conductor) and gets into a fight with Jack. They are really close to the ceiling and there are these low hanging lights which Payne gets decapitated with and Jack makes this odd comments about being taller which makes no sense.

They manage to stop the bomb, but Annie can't get off the subway because she is handcuffed to a pole so they cling to each other as the subway crashes, but they survive and kiss. However, three years later they are no longer together because that's when Speed 2 came out and Annie is now dating the guy played by Jason Patric who replaces Keanu Reeves in this film. I guess he was smart when he decided not to be in that movie! I saw Speed 2 but I don't remember anything about it except that it takes place on a cruise ship and it was bad. Even Sandra Bullock has said it was a pretty bad movie! I don't remember if they explain why Annie and Jack are no longer together. Watch Speed, but skip its sequel! 

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