Magazine article The Spectator

Disaster Fatigue

Magazine article The Spectator

Disaster Fatigue

Article excerpt

Just when you thought it was safe to go back into the water. . . it is! After the original Speed, in which Sandra Bullock and Keanu Reeves had to get the bomb off a speeding Los Angeles bus at rush hour, Jan De Bont has now brought us Speed 2: Cruise Control.

In place of Dennis Hopper, there is another psychopathic mastermind Willem Dafoe, playing a man called Geiger - with another crazy scheme - to slam a liner into the side of an oil tanker; in place of Dennis Hopper's booby-trapped bus, there is not so much as a booby-trapped Camden Hoppa, only a strangely unconvincing cruise ship which looks like a floating refrigerator. Speed-wise, it's reminiscent of that swimming quarter-final in the 1990 Commonwealth Games in which the Swazi competitor, for various complicated reasons, found himself padding up and down the pool in a swimming heat all by himself. `Swaziland not best known for its swimming,' mused the commentator, as the cheerfully unhurried Swazi moved slowly up an otherwise empty pool at roughly half the speed of my grandmother. So it goes here. Speed 2 is notable mainly for its lack of speed: its cruise ship is the Saga Holiday of disaster movies. On present form, Speed 3 will feature Sandra Bullock trapped on a runaway sloth; Speed 4 will have her trapped in a Robin Reliant hurtling towards a mini-roundabout at 17 mph; Speed 5 will see her trapped in a long Post Office queue, forced to watch videos advertising attractive new Parcel Force envelopes.

Meanwhile, those of us trapped in Speed 2 find ourselves mourning the absence of Keanu Reeves, star of the first Speed and the only one to show any speed with regard to the second: he couldn't wait to get out of it. Keanu is frequently mocked for his distinctive forename, but it seems to me a lot less bizarre than that of his replacement, Jason Patric. I could swear I worked with a Jason Patric back in my disc-jockey days, or maybe it was Patrick Jason. Disc-jockeys frequently adopt two forenames in order to get personality jingles on the cheap chopping off the first bit of `Patrick Anthony!' and the last bit of `Anthony Jason!' to make `Jason Patric! The World's Most Fabulous Human Being!!' etc. Jason Patric is a bit like that - a composite of various types of leading man without ever being, as the great Keanu indubitably is, anything in his own right. …

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