I'm not trying to be a hero! I'M FIGHTING THE DRAGON!!

Speed 2: Cruise Control

tn_speed2I never watched SPEED 2 before. When I decided the day had come I actually got excited about it for a minute. Wait, so there’s a studio blockbuster in the DIE HARD or UNDER SIEGE type of subgenre that I haven’t seen? What was I waiting for? I mean, I know it was almost unanimously hated, and that it was an early example of the PG-13-sequel-to-R-rated-action-movie, but when has that stopped me before? I am an individual with an open mind and an open heart. I am ready to welcome SPEED 2 into the hospitality of my mental space.

I thought. But the mob was right on this one. SPEED 2 is pretty sucky. It’s the SPEED 2 of SPEED sequels.

mp_speed2And the biggest problem is the obvious one that any sucker could’ve guessed: Keanu Reeves said no. You can’t really do the bus gimmick again, and you killed the villain and the partner. That leaves us with the heroes, Jack and Annie, their continuing adventures and relationship.

It’s obvious that’s what they wanted to do. After the extreme circumstances of The Bus That Couldn’t Slow Down, Jack and Annie went ahead and dated. But his police work and danger addiction are getting in the way. She wants him to cool it, so he takes some vacation time to go on a cruise. Little does she know he’s more serious about her than he lets on, and is nervously planning to propose to her.

Since Reeves wouldn’t do it they should’ve a) not made it or b) started over with a story where Annie is the hero. Instead they just slightly rewrote it so she refers to her ex-boyfriend Jack, and then Jason Patric plays Alex Shaw, a new guy she’s dating who’s also a supercop working for Joe Morton just like Jack was. Maybe this would be okay except we’re supposed to be invested in this new guy we’ve never seen before wanting to propose to the old character we already know. And I know – Keanu, whoah, ha ha ha – but I’m afraid Jason Patric here doesn’t have the screen presence of Reeves or the chemistry with Bullock. So it’s like your friend got a new boyfriend that you’re not sure you approve of.

Man, what if Bruce turned down DIE HARD 2 and they made Holly have a new husband who’s also a cop who’s trying to meet her for the holidays? That would be fucked up.

There are several corny callbacks to the first one. In part 1 Annie said she didn’t have her driver’s license, and now a couple years later she’s taking classes. Ha ha, she’s terrible! The teach is scared! More ridiculously, they bring back Glenn Plummer, whose BMW Jack commandeered in part 1. Now he has a condo in the Caribbean and his boat gets commandeered. Okay, it’s kinda amusing, but again, it’s obvious they didn’t rewrite it much, it mostly sounds like he’s talking to Jack.

Oh yeah, so once again a disgruntled employee with explosives expertise is demanding money in exchange for not bombing the boat. Similar to Travis Dane in UNDER SIEGE 2: DARK TERRITORY he designed the computer systems but then got laid off. So he comes aboard with a plan to control the ship and plant and set off bombs. One of the things that made SPEED different from DIE HARD or UNDER SIEGE was that it was a lone madman, no henchmen to pick off one-by-one. In that aspect it was more like IN THE LINE OF FIRE. SPEED 2 repeats that, which is weird since otherwise it’s closer to the other fomula. It’s UNDER SIEGE but with only one guy they gotta kill. I guess that would be the second biggest problem with the movie. This type of thing feels pretty empty when you remove the part about sneaking around having to kill different henchmen.

The lone madman is Willem Dafoe (xXx: STATE OF THE UNION). He disguises his equipment as golf clubs and balls – do they security screen for cruises? I guess they must if he needed to do that. His weirdest quirk is that he smuggles leeches onboard and puts them on himself to suck out toxins and keep himself alive longer. This was before Obamacare, obviously. The only real relevance to this is that he’s not afraid to die, but I appreciate the weirdness.

Also I like when he tries to fit in with the real tourists for a selfie.


Hans Grueber does his fake American accent in that one scene but he would never have been able to pull off that smile.

Another strange aspect that I’m not as comfortable with is the little deaf girl who befriends Alex because he knows sign language. I mean, that part is fine but she gets a crush on him and starts trying to dress hot for him, and the way De Bont shoots her a couple times it seems like you’re supposed to go “Hubba hubba.” I don’t think he really wants that, but maybe the filmatic language he’s using there was poorly thought out in my opinion. It’s kinda gross.

This being a fancypants cruise and everything there’s a part where the British pop reggae band UB40 are the onboard entertainment. If de Bont really wanted to make a crowdpleaser here obviously he would’ve had these guys blown to bits or skull-crushed with golf clubs. I say that not because I don’t like their music but because I do like when celebrities play themselves in movies and then get killed (Redman in SEED OF CHUCKY [spoiler for SEED OF CHUCKY]). Anyway, their fate is unspecified. They’re probly supposed to be among the passengers that get away in the escape boats, or maybe they had already left on a VIP helicopter and were relaxing in a beachfront condo where they were ultimately smooshed by the ship off screen.

There are some good part 2 actors in the cast. The captain is played by Bo Svenson (WALKING TALL PART 2, KILL BILL VOL. 2). He doesn’t last long (SPOILER) but next in charge is Temuera Morrison (THE MARINE 2, STAR WARS EPISODE 2). These people notice they’re off course and then get threatening messages and have to evacuate. Meanwhile, Patric inserts himself as LAPD guy in charge without that much resistance. Luckily he got possessive and jealous when he saw Annie talking to Dafoe at the bar, so it doesn’t take him long to figure out who’s behind all this.

The big action setpiece is at the end when the giant cruise ship goes straight into the harbor and Godzillas its way through the docks and buildings at the shore. This is when the De Bont we know from TWISTER gets loose. It’s lots of good destruction with corny disaster movie jokes like the asshole yuppie with the fancy car that almost gets by unscathed, but then a giant anchor drops on it. Then a dog comes out! Ha. Dogs. Funny.


See, it causes alot of different mayhem, not just the direct boat-on-building smashing. It causes different chain reactions. I forget how, but somehow this speed boat gets launched through the side of a “unisex hair salon.” Man, that’s gonna screw up some dude or lady’s afternoon tip frosting session.


The logistics of the harbor crash don’t seem to add up to me. It goes on for quite a while, as if traveling a mile or two through solid earth, but then when they show the aftermath it looks like it just barely poked into the shore. Look at this:

It’s less than the length of one boat! But it seemed like miles. Maybe the cool part we saw as the entire climax of the movie was a subjective RASHOMON type interpretation of the events.

One thing is for sure though: it’s not moving very fast. The only real speed is in the opening, when Patric is involved in a motorcycle chase. Like Reeves in part 1 he’s introduced with his vehicle dropping impossibly from above the frame. (Upper left.)


To be fair it’s just called SPEED 2, not HIGH SPEED 2. Whatever slow-ass rate this ship is traveling at is technically a speed.

I hate to do this but I gotta agree with the consensus that this is a bad movie. But I respect it for at least putting the good shit at the end. Dafoe’s death (sorry, he loses [spoiler]) is a good one. It involves an explosion with a propeller flying toward the audience, kind of a de Bont trademark in a way. (I wish it was the cow from TWISTER, though.) The way it happens to him is a thing of beauty.



He’s in a small escape plane but he crashes into a pole and just sticks on it like a shishkebab. And he sits there for a bit before the explosion, which de Bont certainly isn’t gonna skimp on. Anyway the best part is before the fiery death, when he’s just stuck there on that pole and he realizes how weird or dumb it is that this has happened to him and that’s gonna be that. He just starts laughing. Hey man, he has a sense of humor about himself! He’s not that bad.

I kinda feel sorry for the leeches now. They’re gonna miss having that guy around.

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.
This entry was posted on Monday, July 21st, 2014 at 12:14 pm and is filed under Action, Reviews. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

34 Responses to “Speed 2: Cruise Control”

  1. I have never seen the whole thing, but I have seen bits and pieces of it. I liked seeing Sandra Bullock in a bikini in one scene. I also remember one scene involving R&B singer Tamia (Who played a singer in this movie from what I’ve read) saying “Because I’m not wearing underwear!”

  2. Wasn’t the singer of The Offspring scalped in IDLE HANDS? Now THAT’S something for a SCREAM sequel: “The celebrity who plays himself in a horror comedy might not survive!”

  3. One thing that really bugged me last time I gave this a shot (it is still not very good) is that Temuera Morrison should be action lead. He has reason to be there and be involved. Therefore they could have skipped the awful beginning and got straight to it. Heck have Annie on the cruise alone and she meets him and then the action-plot gears up, if they absolutely felt they needed Annie back. Not as good as Reeves coming back but at least Morrison has screen presence and I can buy him as an action hero.

  4. Of all the dumb things that bugged me about this movie, for whatever reason it really annoyed me that they made Annie into a comically terrible driver between films.

    Yes, in the first film she has to take the bus because she lost her license for speeding, but that doesn’t imply she doesn’t know how to drive so much as that she drives fast, repeatedly, right? Certainly nothing in the rest of the first film, where she drives a friggin’ bus for the first time and manages to pilot it over freeway gaps and around hairpin turns, suggests she’s a bad driver.

    Then 2 starts and it’s like “haha, wacky Annie, she doesn’t know how to drive! Women, am I right?” Did DeBont not remember his own movie? It’s so awful.

  5. Even as Franchise Fred, I can’t say there’s anything more interesting about SPEED 2 than the failed exercise of, “Hey, what if we did it again?” The lazy rewriting of Keanu is interesting though. You could watch the whole movie and imagine Keanu in the part, mental CGI if you will. Would it work any better? Not really.

    I do love that Glenn Plummer keeps getting his shit wrecked. And the idea about a relationship dependent on exciting adventures could be interesting, but I guess it didn’t work for Romancing the Stone either. But mainly, the gimmick of Speed was just so unique, it doesn’t really translate. What else can’t slow down? I mean, remember Chill Factor where they had to keep the bomb cold? That was more of a hook than a runaway boat.

    Man, the alternate reality where DIE HARD became a Holly Genaro franchise…

  6. “How can the same shit happen to the same chick twice!?” yeah I would have signed up for that

    I think the biggest failure of Speed 2(ya know, besides just being terrible and creatively bankrupt) is there’s like, zero chemistry between Bullock and Not-Jack. I think that’s a big reason for the last movie’s success, Keanu/Sandra budding relationship of Whedon banter mixed through crazy misadventures and that out of nowhere climax on the subway. There’s none of that here, and you never give a damn about anything happening.

  7. My buddy tells me that there actually IS a cow in the explosion, but real small, one of those easter eggs they do.

  8. You gotta love Keanu Reeves for turning this down. Say what you will about the guy’s ability to turn in a performance, but off screen he is a weird, sticks-to-his-principles dude who doesn’t give much of a fuck, and I mean all of those things in the best way. Two stories, boring-er one first:

    1) A friend of mine who does costuming for indie films worked on one that he was in, and he really took a shine to her in this brotherly way and they chilled the whole shoot. He’d bring her on random errands, hang out at the place he was renting, etc. Nothing sexy, they both just wanted the company.

    2) Another friend of mine was eating at some diner in California near Santa Cruz late at night, and this dude clad entirely in a leather motorcycle jumpsuit enters, still wearing his helmet. And the few people who are in there are kind of like “whoa” because otherwise it was a low-key enough vibe in there for this to qualify as pretty noteworthy. Then he takes the helmet off and boom, it’s Keanu Reeves. He’s just kind of standing there in the ‘please wait to be seated’ area, which was not staffed at the moment, and after a sec with nobody really knowing whether to react or not everybody kind of goes back to eating. But my friend, being a gregarious type of guy, decides to get up and approach him, and is like “Dude! Keanu! I love your movies, man!” And Keanu just narrows his eyes and says, “It’s pronounced ‘Keenoo.'” And then he jams the helmet back on his head, turns around and walks back out the door.

    I heard story #2 long before story #1 happened, and so naturally I asked friend #1 to verify the pronunciation angle of friend #2’s story. She was like, “um, it’s definitely not pronounced Keenoo. He was just fucking with your friend, he loves doing shit like that.” Making him, in my esteem, all the more admirable of a human being. And if this means Keanu Reeves is 20-years-from-now’s Bill Murray, I am gonna say that 20 years from now could do a lot worse.

  9. I once saw Keanu Reeves in an Indonesian restaurant when Dogstar was touring Australia.

    I saw somewhere that the script for SPEED 2 was adapted from a DIE HARD 3 script that was dumped after being deemed too similar to UNDER SIEGE. Also that the DIE HARD 3 that did eventuate was adapted from a script originally written as a LETHAL WEAPON sequel. I don’t know how true that is, but this movie does seem like more of a DIE HARD premise that a sequel to SPEED. Although it did allow them to use that sweet CRUISE CONTROL (*) pun.

    (*) This would also be a great title for a book about Tom Cruise’s involvement with the Church of Scientology.

  10. SPEED 2 is truly awful and was a huge letdown that summer. I think I even took a break to guzzle vodka in the car at one point.

    But I’m confused. I though we’d all agreed that SPEED didn’t fit the DIE HARD mold for the very reason mentioned in both reviews: no henchmen. For me a hallmark of the best of these “knock-offs” (DIE HARD 2, UNDER SIEGE, UNDER SIEGE 2: DARK TERRITORY, SUDDEN DEATH) is the slow-build gang of villains setup with the only real variation being the UNDER SIEGE use of the elevated “co-villain”.

  11. The Undefeated Gaul

    July 22nd, 2014 at 12:45 am

    The best thing about Speed 2 is the very cool Mark Mancina score. That guy was on a roll back then, doing both Speeds and also Bad Boys, Con Air. I miss that type of movie score.

  12. Crustacean – They were both standalone spec scripts that the studios considered rewriting to be sequels. The one that became SPEED 2 was originally called TROUBLEMAKER. The one that became WITH A VENGEANCE was called SIMON SAYS. Fox bought it originally as a Brandon Lee vehicle (I just looked it up and they were also gonna do a RAPID FIRE sequel – I woulda watched that). Later Warner Brothers tried to buy it to turn into a LETHAL WEAPON sequel, but obviously Fox didn’t give it to them because they kept it for DIE HARD.

    But actually now that you mention it I wonder how similar it is to the original TROUBLEMAKER? What if the whole proposal thing is from that script and not originally meant for Keanu’s character anyway?

  13. Best thing about this movie is the UB40 cameo. It was just so random seeing UB40 being sold as still being an “it” band back in the late 1990’s. It’s hilariously quirky.

  14. Funnily enough as much as I disliked this movie I actually saw it TWICE at the cinema. Hey don’t judge me. The second time I got in for free. Just needed somewhere dark to kick it with a girl from school while she gave me one of my very first BJ’s to make the experience less painful.

  15. But were UB40 really supposed to be portrayed as an “it” band? I mean, they’re playing on a cruise ship. How “it” could they be?

  16. insert name here

    July 22nd, 2014 at 9:39 am

    The strangest choice of all was that they went with a cruise ship. Any other vehicle, plane, train, automobile, anything would have been more cinematic than a fucking boat.

  17. True cruise ship shows are a step below a Las Vegas residency in terms of relevance so in the context of the movie yeah they were presented in a credible light. What I meant was that Jon De Bont put them in the movie and made them a big part of soundtrack as if they were still hot with pop audiences of that time and would bring more eyes to the movie or something just by being involved with it. It would be like putting Ace of Base in a movie in 2003.

  18. I remember reading in Rolling Stone that Keanu didn’t really like the first SPEED, so it’s a given that he’d reject the sequel with that knowledge. Kind of sad about Jason Patric fighting with his ex and airing dirty laundry online now.

  19. Wait, didn’t UB40 have a #1 hit with Pato Banton shortly before the movie was made?

  20. Its interesting that so many 90’s water-based films bombed so hard.
    This, Waterworld, Cutthroat Island.
    All notorious waterlogged BOMBS.

  21. And don’t forget HARD RAIN.

  22. The Original Paul

    July 22nd, 2014 at 2:29 pm

    For me the biggest sin of this movie is it’s so damn dull. Terminally dull. It’s got the “Thunderbird” syndrome in which every single one of the characters is so goddamn boring that I end up being completely uninvested in anything that happens. (Although without “Thunderbird”‘s horrific misogyny / rape-by-blackmail played for laughs.) Weirdly, both “Speed 2” and “Thunderbird” share one virtue – a pretty damn awesome score. And you guys know I’m a sucker for a good score. But even that couldn’t save this movie for me.

    One thing I’m baffled that nobody ever comments on is this: Dafoe’s character has two plans throughout, either to crash into a giant oil tanker and blow it up, or to crash the cruise ship into inhabited land and wreck everything there instead. Thanks to the efforts of not-Jack and Annie, he ends up doing BOTH. (The oil tanker blows up at the end when his plane crashes into it.) Great job there guys! If Keanu had been this good in “Speed”, the hilariously-named Howard Payne (boy, I love action movie villain names!) would not only have managed to blow up the bus with the hostages on it – plus random aeroplane – he’d have taken out most of the airport as well. And probably a nest of kittens. Cute ones.

  23. I saw Speed on VHS, but I saw Speed 2 in theaters. In my defense, it was one of those bargain movie theaters that they don’t seem to have anymore. It’s almost forgivable that they chose a boat for the film’s location. But it is in no way forgivable that the boat is a cruise line. There’s something that’s very middle aged about going on a cruise. It’s the type of vacation for people who want to visit other countries without the inconvenience of actually experiencing other cultures. I’m a little biased here, because after reading “A Supposedly Fun Thing…” I’ve never really been able to take cruise ships and vacations at face value.

  24. I saw double-billed this one with Rumble in the Bronx when they were both in cinemas. My buddy and I just couldn’t get over how much better in every way Jackie Chan’s (mid-late period Canadian cheapo) movie was compared to what was apparently an incredibly expensive studio action picture.

    Regardless, it’s clearly one of the most cynical movies ever made. And Willem’s character bums me out. As I remember, he has a pretty legit grievance, right? I remember just kind of feeling bad for the guy.

  25. And why could the passengers not just jump off the boat into the warm, sky-blue Caribbean waters? I know the movie gives a split-second cockamammie explanation for it. Something like the SHEER FORCE of the propeller would suck them in and chop them to bits, no matter where off the boat they jumped. Ridiculous.

  26. Siskel & Ebert both gave it a thumbs up, and Roger said it was the review people pointed to to say that they weren’t good critics.

  27. The Original Paul

    July 23rd, 2014 at 11:54 am

    Holy crap, guys, do you realise what’s happened here?

    There isn’t a single person posting here who has actually held their hand up and said they genuinely LIKE this film. Even if it was bad it still had charm, they enjoyed the action bits, etc. I honestly don’t think I’ve ever seen that happen here before. It kinda scares me. Even in the “Speed” review, there was one person who said he couldn’t get into it at all. Yet here, total agreement.

    Let’s face it, we need somebody with an alternative point of view to keep us honest. Early on it seemed like I was that guy (yeah, the one who hates Yoda, go figure) and recently it’s been Mouth who’s taken the title. And let’s face it, it’s not as though I can propose the “pro-Speed 2” viewpoint here. I agree with all of you, it’s garbage.

    So what about it? Anybody willing to say that they would go as far as to rewatch this film for the enjoyment of it? Or is it just that bad?

  28. There’s one Sandra Bullock movie everyone likes that I hate.

    I’m not gonna spend 2 hours to find out if there’s one Sandra Bullock movie everyone hates that I might like.

    Well, I might, but the circumstances would involve a dozen pints and very limited home cinema options.


  29. CJ – That was 3 years before SPEED 2 which is like a decade in pop culture terms.

  30. The original Paul-
    I was on the phone with my girl one day (who only watches Rom-coms and such) and she said she couldn’t talk cause she was engrossed in this “awesome big boat movie”.
    Yes, to my astonishment it turned out to be Speed 2.

    So I actually know that rarest of species. The Speed 2 lover.

  31. Paul: The one time I saw this movie, it was on in the background at a small gathering of friends. It was immediately apparent that this was a subpar product (Patrick was a poor substitute for Keanu) so I only paid attention to the parts where Sandra Bullock wore a bikini and/or the boat was crashing. Based on that small portion of observed footage, it was not the worst movie I have ever seen. But it was pretty bad. I would probably watch it again only because it would mostly be like seeing it for the first time.

    I’m always down to defend a much-derided flop, but that’s the best I can muster in this case.

  32. Slightly unrelated to the film, but Temuera Morrison should in fairness only be referred to as Maori Fucker (Once Were Warriors), because, fuck… I suppose the mentioning of him in relation to these other films might represent a disapproval of my opinion, which is fair enough, but otherwise I want to post this comment as a strong endorsment for above mentioned conflict-masterpiece.

  33. I actually saw this stinker in theaters because my mom liked the first one so much, I more or less remember nothing at all about it other than it was Godawful, probably one of the worst movies I’ve ever seen in theaters even

    when you have even a 7 year old thinking your movie is terrible, you have problems!

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