The bar is high for nasty sequels, and I want to explain why, in my paean to Sandra Bullock for her Razzies appearance, I called Speed 2: Cruise Control the worst of all. Given how crisp and clean and forward-moving Speed is, it’s bad enough that its sequel is so lazily paced and has zero momentum. But what elevates it to a singular plane of terribleness is the way it accounts for the absence of Keanu Reeves, who apparently refused to return to the character after seeing the script.
The filmmakers tacked on an embarrassing prologue in which Bullock’s Annie, learning to drive (Tim Conway is the “funny” instructor), babbles about how she left Jack (Reeves) because he wouldn’t stop taking risks and is now with Alex (Jason Patric), who’s much more cautious — and, omigawd, look over there: It’s Alex chasing a suspect! He’s a cop just like Jack! Horrors! Bullock should have put her foot down on principle — not because the prologue is brain-dead, but because it violates the climax of Speed.
Remember: Jack and Annie are on a runaway subway train heading for the end of the line, and she’s handcuffed to a pole. He tries to free her but can’t. Instead of leaping to safety, as she pleads with him to do, he settles down and hugs her tightly as they hurtle towards certain immolation. This might be the most romantic moment in any action picture, and it’s only because Jack is a risk-taker who faces death with stoicism. (Yes, Reeves faces everything with stoicism, but as Jack he’s a wonderful tabula rasa.) So when Annie says she left him because he wouldn’t quit being a cop, it’s a calumny, I tell you. We took it out on Bullock — who instantly lost her mojo — and on Patric and on the director. And we grieved for our dumb romantic selves.