100th film! Although really I’d have preferred it to have been the 50th, seeing as it’s about a bus, rigged with a bomb that activates once the bus reaches 50 miles per hour, detonating should the buses speed drop below 50. The planter of the bomb is Dennis Hopper’s vengeful psychotic ex-cop Howard Payne, angry at Keanu Reeves and Jeff Daniels’ foiling of his first elevator-based hostage situation and eager for a paycheck he feels he’s been cheated. But you don’t care about the motive or who’s behind it, as Payne tells Reeves’ Jack Traven, “Your concern is the bus.” Whenever the film detracts from this central conceit, be it following the non bus bound cops trying to track down Payne or Hopper himself watching the action unfold on the ever present media, the pacing immediately slackens, so enticing is the central plot.
Physics and logic take a back seat in this crowd pleasing actioner (It’s the kind of film where the only by-the-book police procedure results in carnage), with the infamous bus jump being the most forhead-slappingly annoying, and the subway-set finale is a bit of a letdown, but the supporting characters, including Alan Ruck’s sight-seeing tourist (“The airport? I’ve already seen the airport.”) and Beth Grant’s hysterical commuter easily outshine the largely wooden performances from Reeves (once again earning his nickname of ‘The Wall’) and Sandra Bullock as a fellow passenger/love interest.
Choose life 6/10