After finally reviewing Speed (1994) a short while ago, I figured it was about time to watch the much hated sequel, Speed 2: Cruise Control, which, thankfully, was available on NetFlix® Instant Queue.
Would I hate this supposedly inferior sequel as much as everyone else seems to have, or would Speed 2: Cruise Control manage to surprise me?
Sandra Bullock returns to reprise her role from Speed (1994), and does her best to bring that tough, determined gal from the original back for round 2. Unfortunately, while she is still able to maintain that attitude that made her character so much fun the first time around, the script this time doesn’t seem to give her opportunities to showcase it. She’s billed as an action heroine, but spends most of the time playing the scared little damsel in distress that moviegoers have seen time and again. It’s irritating, and the viewer finds themselves hoping she’ll be given the chance to redeem her action heroine status as the film progresses. Unfortunately, that’s never allowed in this sequel.
Jason Patric, replacing Keanu Reeves as the SWAT cop (Reeves, smartly, declined to re-visit the role for this sequel) has an uphill battle ahead of him right from the start, trying to live up to Reeves’ second-best performance to date (The Matrix (1999), of course, being the tops). He’s never quite able to do that, and while the script doesn’t exactly help him – he’s quite the wooden character, and viewers never actually get a chance to find out more about him or his background – Patric just doesn’t seem like the right guy for the job.
His best moments come in those awkward interactions between him and Bullock, trying to deflect a bad situation. Unfortunately, while Reeves and Bullock’s chemistry seemed to mesh in an odd way, Patric seems to have adopted the puppy dog approach, while Bullock tries to keep that same tough-but-tender schtick going on from the first film. Sadly, these two conflicting styles never quite mesh, and Patric comes out of it looking weak and insecure, reducing his already shaky status as action hero. He spends the rest of the film trying to recover, but he never quite manages it, no matter what he tries.
Dafoe is badly misused as the villain of the pic, playing a computer hacker out for revenge on his former employers. Unfortunately, following on the footsteps of Hopper’s conniving villain, Dafoe’s character just doesn’t match up, leaving Dafoe to resort to bug-eyed looks to prove to the audience he actually is crazy, not some sort of mad genius. Without a strong villain, viewers quickly lose interest in Patric’s plight, despite a strong performance from Patric’s helper (and ship crew member), Temeura Morrison.
The script seems to have been taken from a by-the-numbers how-to book on creating scripts. All of the elements are there: evil villain threatens hero, hero faces impossible odds, hero’s love interest becomes an unwilling victim, and hero, despite setbacks, comes through and saves the day. Unfortunately, unlike Speed (1994), where those elements meshed together to create a solid thrill-ride of a film, Speed 2: Cruise Control never really gets those elements working together, creating a special-effects laden bore.
The special effects are impressive, helping to make at least moments of the film exciting. The boat’s careening course through a small Caribbean town, for example, is a sequence that will wake up viewers and cause them to take notice. Unfortunately, the film drags even that sequence down by cutting back and forth to an over-acting ship’s crew member yell out the speed every once in awhile, each time with a wider-eyed look than before. Once the sequence has ended, the film again goes back to it’s paint-by-numbers action, and the viewers once again quickly lose interest.
Despite an eye-popping (yet overly long) destruction of a small Caribbean town, and Bullock’s attempts at re-creating her tough-yet-tender action heroine from the original, Speed 2: Cruise Control squanders it’s talent pool and spends most of it’s time floundering. Viewers, originally excited about seeing another Die Hard (1988) scenario will quickly lose interest, and won’t wake up again until the afore-mentioned “docking” sequence.
A paint-by-numbers action film, Speed 2: Cruise Control is about as blatant a greedy stab at reaping more money from the original as Hollywood can get – and frankly, even for that, it’s a major disappointment, since it turned out to be such a box office flop.
Find the “docking” sequence somewhere on the internet, watch that and forget the rest. That’s about the only way you’ll enjoy Speed 2: Cruise Control.