Speed 2: Cruise Control (1997)
Speed 2: Cruise Control (1997)

Genre: Action Running Time: 2 hrs. 1 min.

Release Date: June 13th, 1997 MPAA Rating: PG-13

Director: Jan de Bont Actors: Sandra Bullock, Jason Patric, Willem Dafoe, Temuera Morrison, Brian McCardie, Christine Firkins, Michael G. Hagerty, Colleen Camp, Lois Chiles, Tamia, Jessica Diz

 


 

“R

elationships based on extreme circumstances never work out,” insists Annie (Sandra Bullock) to her driving instructor, as she finally decides to take control of her own transportation – and fails miserably. It’s the perfect line to explain why Keanu Reeves’ character Jack (from the first film) is no longer in the picture. Instead, she’s been dating a new daredevil for the last seven months, whom she thinks is an unadventurous Venice Beach Patrol officer. In reality, boyfriend Alex Shaw (Jason Patric) is an LAPD SWAT team member, regularly engaging in risky confrontations, such as a high-speed motorcycle pursuit on a narrow cliff.

When Annie finally finds out, Alex’ solution is to whisk her away on a Caribbean cruise aboard the magnificent Seabourn Legend to forget about his dangerous career. He also has marriage proposal plans, but Annie doesn’t seem properly primed for that level of commitment. Either way, his opportunity is cut short when vengeful computer system designer John Geiger (Willem Dafoe) orchestrates an engine shutdown, tosses the captain overboard, and demands that the ship be immediately evacuated.

Once the lead protagonists are aboard the big boat, the audience is subjected to an onslaught of annoying characters, including Dante the photographer (Royale Watkins), Ashton the bellhop (Jeremy Hotz), Liza the cruise director (Kimmy Robertson), a Scottish navigator, honeymooners, and several random dinner companions. A deaf girl named Drew (Christine Firkins) presents the only believable, sympathetic character, though her subplot gets far too much screentime. All throughout the setup, Bullock is in full comedy relief mode, cracking jokes and keeping the mood light, though with an admittedly natural touch. She’s about the only thing not entirely routine when it comes to the dialogue and actions in this formulaic heist movie (save for the outrageously destructive climax).

Willem Dafoe, though effective in nearly every villain role, is a bit overdone as a psychopath with a penchant for leech therapy. But he plays crazy quite well, what with his wide-eyed stares and maniacal laugh. Meanwhile, the suspense scenes aren’t designed around chaotic chases but rather seafaring perils like those in “Titanic” or “The Poseidon Adventure,” which makes this sequel unable to retain the vibe of the original – even though the basic concept of a madman hijacking a vehicle via technological strategies remains the same (as well as paralleling maneuvers, such as inevitable collisions and hostage-taking). Fortunately, the music by Mark Mancina returns, though it doesn’t chime in frequently enough. Unfortunately, without a charismatic hero to complement Bullock’s frantic, somewhat grounded survivor, there’s no real sense of urgency or vulnerability or tension. Plus, contrived obstacles are continually arranged for Alex to daringly correct; just as each new predicament is invented, a solution is devised through some scheme involving last-minute near-misses.

– Mike Massie

  • 4/10