Speed Turns 20: Why It’s Keanu Reeves’ Best Film

2013 Summer TCA Tour - Day 13

Speed was the first R-rated movie that I ever saw (not in theaters by the way – on VHS. I was only two years old when Speed originally came out but I still remember using my VCR). Today, the action thriller, which starred Keanu Reeves and Sandra Bullock, turns 20 years old. It was released on June 10, 1994 and became one of the summer’s best popcorn flicks. It also happens to be Keanu Reeves’ best film.

Now, I understand that some people will shout at me and say, “What about The Matrix? Are you kidding me? That movie is amazing!” And I’m not denying the greatness of The Matrix (the first one, at least. The other two we just won’t talk about). However, Speed is Keanu’s best movie for three main reasons.

Reason #1 – Speed put Keanu on the map

Up until Speed, Reeves was typecast as the spaced-out, dumb teenager due to movies like Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure and its sequel, Bill and Ted’s Bogus AdventureSpeed not only showed that Reeves could headline a film but that he could also be a serious action star down the line.

Reason #2 – Speed is more entertaining than any other movie Keanu has done

Again, The Matrix is a mind-bending, sci-fi thriller that makes you reflect and ask yourself questions about your own life and the universe, so maybe Speed isn’t as deep as The Matrix but it’s so much more fun. You’ve got Dennis Hopper as the calculating villain attempting to get revenge on the police department, Sandra Bullock as the strong and feisty love interest (who actually helps the hero instead of hindering him), and just all the amazing action set pieces, from the infamous bus sequence that takes up the majority of the movie to the fantastic fight on the train between Hopper and Reeves at the end of the film.

Reason #3 – Speed is the best acting performance we’ve ever seen (or will ever see) from Keanu

Let’s say the obvious right now: Keanu Reeves is not, has never been, and will never be a great actor. He lacks the range to be impressive in serious dramas and is pretty one-note when it comes to comedy. However, his quiet, steady, and vacant-looking acting skills served the role of Jack Traven well in Speed. He was the strong, heroic police officer who was always thinking on his feet, and Keanu does a great job in the role. The only other Keanu character that comes close to Jack from Speed is Shane Falco from the underrated football comedy The Replacements. It’s another part that required minimal emotional expression from Keanu, and The Replacements is my second favorite of all his movies. I could go on and on about why it’s so great, but that’s another article for another time.

Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images

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