Buses, Boats and Bullock
Whilst "Speed" was both flawed and overlong it was still entertaining as well as being a bit of a roller coaster ride of thrills and spills, but it certainly wasn't a movie which screamed out for a sequel. But as is too often the case a sequel rolls along in the form of "Speed 2: Cruise Control" which sees director Jan de Bont reunite with Sandra Bullock for another over the top action movie in the same manner as the original. Except that firstly it doesn't get close to be as entertaining as the original and secondly it's so unrealistic that for the most it's laughable rather than entertaining.
Having decided to get to know each other better Annie (Sandra Bullock - A Time to Kill) and her new boyfriend Office Alex Shaw (Jason Patric - Sleepers) decide to take a Caribbean cruise together. Unfortunately for them they find themselves on a boat with a madman set on destruction in search of revenge and compensation for the way his ex employers, the boat company, treated him. With the boat heading for disaster Alex and Annie find themselves stepping up to the plate and trying to save the boat and the passengers from impending doom.
The storyline to "Speed 2" sort of echo's the original although it lacks the semi intelligence of it. Again there is a disgruntled ex employee wanting revenge for being treated poorly by his previous employees and of course that means Sandra Bullock's Annie finds herself in the midst of more chaos with a new beau and on a boat instead of a bus. Which may sound like quite a good idea for a sequel, a new location and new characters to make it more than just a rehash but it's just all poorly worked. The storyline ends up feeling like a lightweight disaster movie with the varied range of characters you would expect, think "The Poseidon Adventure" and you known what to expect. But it's all so contrived, riddled with plot holes a plenty that it's no wonder that as a movie it sinks. Intelligence is replaced by unrealistic twists and technology appears to be at least 10 years ahead of itself as the ex employee takes control of the boat. It's best just to say that the storyline works purely to connect the action and nothing else.
But here again is a problem, whilst in "Speed" the action often felt like it was unrealistic this time it feels it all the time. Right from the opening sequence "Speed 2" is detached from the believable as it attempts to deliver bigger set pieces in search of entertainment except they are not better. Everything is so over the top that much of what is meant to take you on a gripping adrenalin fuelled roller coaster ride, such as the explosions, the close calls, the occasional shooting ends up making you laugh instead. When you're not laughing you are struggling to see what is actually happening due to the incessant flashing lights from the ship going down masking what I believe is poor production. Trust me the action in "Speed 2" will not get you gripped on the edge of your seat rather than falling back at the laughable nature of it all.
Adding to the misery this time round are the characters and yes my favourite Sandra Bullock is in this group. Annie this time round is more important than before coinciding with Sandra Bullocks own rise as a movie star, except the character other than delivering a few wise cracks and looking gorgeous really adds little to the movie. In place of Keanu Reeves we now get Jason Patric as her new boyfriend Officer Alex Shaw who somehow has hidden from her that he is not just your regular cop more of a thrill seeking one. But it's a simplistic character the good guy in the wrong place at the wrong time who feels it's his duty to save the day even though he knows nothing about boats yet seems pretty clued up on them. What is missing is that there is little if no chemistry between Bullock and Patric often feeling like they are struggling to out do each other.
But the worst of all comes from Willem Dafoe as the pantomime villain John Geiger who having contracted some deadly illness whilst creating the software which runs the ship now wants his revenge, yawn. It's very much an over the top character played in an over top manner causing more unintentional humour. Combine the poor character, poor acting with so much far fetched nonsense such as the illness, the way he gets bombs on to the boat and there is close to a seriously groan factor when ever he appears.
One of my main criticisms of "Speed" was that they didn't know when enough was enough, delivering an overlong ending which felt like an entirely separate movie. Well they haven't learned from their mistake and again "Speed 2" is drawn out with another overlong ending, in fact the whole movie is overlong with scenes included to deliver drama but only act as irrelevant padding.
What this all boils down to is that "Speed 2: Cruise Control" is both an unrequired sequel and also a god awful one at that. It lacks any real ingenuity preferring to go down the route of the more absurd and outrageous. Even then the over the top action lacks any excitement and the characters all feel very isolated, lacking the connection that manifested itself in the last movie. It's just all out disappointment which shows that bigger is not always better.