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English media coursework: Speed

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Ruth Hill-Tout 10N English media coursework: Speed Speed- a Jan De Bont movie starring Keanu Reeves, Sandra Bullock and Dennis Hopper is a film worthy of rivaling the very best in action movie history and certainly deserves a place in our top ten modern action films due to its riveting action sequences, flamboyant stunts and surprisingly good cast. If you wanted to find a classic action movie which contains absolutely everything an action movie is forecasted to have and be, look no further. Speed is a classic action film with emphasis on the action. The stereotypical action film we know today is the product of over a century of evolution, from the first timid opening silent serial films around the time of Edwin S. Porter's classic action-western The Great Train Robbery in 1903 through to the hugely popular James Bond exploits in the 60's onwards, to the more modern films such as the classic Die Hard or Speed even. It was mainly during the 80's and 90's however that action films really exploded into a genre of their own. With the growth of special effects and heightened demand by audiences for faster plots containing increased violence and stimulation, some of the best classic action films of our time were created. Successful action films have breath taking impact, nonstop energy, an abundance of physical stunts, neck braking chase scenes, explosive battles and fight scenes, destructive disasters, non-stop motion, spectacular rhythm, nail biting suspense , a heroic hero, damsel in distress and evil villain - all designed and premeditated for pure audience thrill. ...read more.


All we need now is the fluffy white cat... Seconds later the scene switches to that of a cheery, office scenario. The lighting is warm and bright and the atmosphere friendly and full of life- totally opposite to the eerie spookiness of the lift shaft. At first the camera simply pans over the office then slowly centers in onto a group of men and women, about to enter one of the lifts. They step in, lift door closes and the atmosphere of the office suddenly darkens with the lighting- which turns into a menacing reddish hue. One of the men press a button and the lift begins its descent downwards when suddenly an explosion on the top of the lift, breaks a connecting cable and causes the lift to plummet meters down the shaft plunging the occupants into ciaos. We now have a villain, a murder, a life threatening dilemma for the occupants of the lift and surprise surprise, it is at this point that we meet Jack Traven (Keanu Reeves) the cocky cop who's destined to be our hero and his trusty partner Harry (Jeff Daniels)-two SWAT LAPD team members who are called to the lift situation in the high rise office building. In true action film style, they explode onto the scene in a battered old car traveling at about 100m/per hour. In most cases, action films host a protagonist who generally is a jaw droppingly handsome male (usually a civil servant/secret agent), with a huge ego, hard core personality, speech impediment (this being him only able to make knowledgeable grunts or sadly pathetic attempts at humor) ...read more.


Though the movie does contain huge amounts of action, stunts and situations, the plot never looses sight of the end goal and stays simple and easy to follow. Summed up in a sentence it basically is: Villain sets out to get money, is thwarted by hero, fight against each other, girl is used as hostage, hero beats villain, girl and hero live happily ever after. Jack Traven is the perfect blend of vulnerability, machismo, and smart-assedness to appeal almost completely to an audience. One sympathizes with the situations he is forced to face (e.g. having to make a decision to let Annie be taken hostage by the bomber and possibly killed or risk other peoples lives), is in awe of his bravery, and laughs (at times) at his one-liners. All these qualities combine surprisingly together to make his character rather endearing to us. And the little dialogue that there is throughout the film is realistic and funny at the same time (witness the hostility between passengers aboard the Bus throughout for an example). Speed, is an example of how to do everything right in an action movie. It doesn't rely purely on thrills and explosions; rather, it creates characters that are worth caring about and situations people can relate to. Speed is about as close to a perfect action movie as you can get. Charismatic hero, an engaging love interest, a suitably evil and diabolical villain, and (of course) many, many explosive and awesome action sequences. It is certainly one of the best action films of all time and without a doubt is a classic example of the action movie genre. ...read more.

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