Speed 2: Cruise Control will always hold a special place in my memory. I saw it on its opening day which also happened to be the day I graduated high-school. The nostalgia factor and emotional affinity of those experiences has clouded my judgment of the film through the years. I would argue in the picture’s favor against its many detractors, then and now. But it’s clearly not a very good movie and a poor sequel to a classic. Speed 2 is so mediocre that it’s tempting to forget that the original Speed was a unique and singular film going experience.
Alex Shaw (Jason Patric) is an adrenaline junkie cop on the LAPD’s most dangerous division. Annie Porter (Sandra Bullock), the plucky heroine from Speed, is back this time as Alex’s girlfriend. When she finds out that he’s a dare-devil willing to risk his life daily, Annie threatens to break things off with Shaw. But Alex has booked passage for two aboard a luxury cruise liner making its way out into the Pacific Ocean. Also on board is John Giger (Willem Dafoe), a disgruntled former employee who plans to use his advanced hacking skills to commander the ship and make off with its vault of precious diamonds and gems.
Of course the thief’s plan doesn’t account for Shaw’s presence and heroic antics. Now, the LA cop is miles away from his jurisdiction and without back-up, but he alone must rescue Annie from Giger’s clutches and save the massive vessel before it’s pre-programmed course runs it ashore. Glenn Plumber’s exasperated good samaritan from the original film makes a cameo in this picture during the film’s final reel. His inclusion is a late in the game attempt to inject humor into the overly serious material.
Speed 2 is not the worst sequel of all-time, it’s not even the worse sequel of the summer of ’97. The opening action set-piece and the film’s final twenty minutes are captivating and extremely well executed. Unfortunately the film’s second act is a routine and redundant series of obstacles that Patric’s character must navigate in order to save the ship and his girlfriend. It robs the picture of energy and forward momentum. At least Speed 2 is a stand alone sequel, and not part of a larger universe or serving as a building block to something down the line. It’s an undeniable letdown from the creative highs of the seminal original film, but Speed 2 doesn’t deserve the vitriol that it’s received from the critical community over the last two decades.
Director: Jan De Bont
Stars: Sandra Bullock, Jason Patric, Willem Dafoe