Was Speed 2: Cruise Control Even Necessary?

When Die Hard on a bus (Speed) came out in 1994, it shockingly became a huge commercial and critical success that actually saw the film winning two Academy Awards: Best Sound Effects Editing and Best Sound. The premise is about a madman who rigs a bus to explode if the speed falls below 50 miles per hour. This film turned both Sandra Bullock and Keanu Reeves into mainstream stars and given the fact that the first film made $350.4 million on a $30-37 million budget, a sequel was naturally made. Of course, Sandra Bullock and Keanu Reeves were asked to return because they’re one of the main reasons that the film works so well. Bullock agreed to do the sequel to get financing for the romantic comedy Hope Floats (which was surprisingly directed by Academy Award winner Forest Whitaker); however, Keanu Reeves turned down the film.

There were plenty of reasons Reeves turned down the sequel, notably because he wanted a break from action films and well, the script didn’t exactly entice him to sign on the dotted line. Nevertheless, Speed 2: Cruise Control, with Jason Patric and Sandra Bullock was met with harsh critical feedback and is deemed by many as one of the worse sequels ever made. Was a sequel to the first film even necessary to begin with? In the mind of executives, of course, it was. Fox wanted to capitalize on the popular brand and desperately wanted to milk the cash cow dry. Even if Reeves opted to return to Speed 2: Cruise Control, the film wouldn’t have been any better, though the chemistry between Bullock and Reeves would’ve been better. In truth, the premise for Cruise Control is actually perfectly suitable for a popcorn affair. If done right, the film could’ve genuinely been good and with Willem Dafoe as the crazed villain this time then the sequel had all the tools to be a great action film.

However, the story of the first film was wrapped up nicely in a bow. The demented terrorist (the late and great Dennis Hopper) was decapitated, and Jack and Anne had a sweet, though complex ending. However, that complex ending was the two making out as Annie is handcuffed to the rail of a train car. The ending was their way of sending these two lovebirds off into the sunset happily ever after. Despite being Die Hard on a bus, Speed still felt fresh and exciting because the premise of the film was unpredictable, thrilling, and pulpy movie. Speed helped the action genre by continuing to highlight the everyday man hero and truly crafting a unique experience that set itself apart from other features. Would it be great to catch up with Annie and Jack to see if they’re living happily ever after? Sure, and this is going to sound strange, but a Speed franchise could’ve worked. Like I stated previously, the premise of Speed 2: Cruise Control is actually pretty good. There’s a ton of potential and fun that this film could’ve had, unfortunately, this just turned out to be the case where it was simply a bad movie.

Were there lingering questions that demanded a sequel? No. Would the formula of a crazed madman ruining Jack and Annie’s day become old and predictable? Definitely. However, there was never a need for a Die Hard sequel, but most of them work because they’re over-the-top fun and more importantly, the stories are actually decent. Speed isn’t a franchise that’s meant to last long. Just like it was getting tiresome to see John McClaine deal with evil terrorist after terrorist, the adventures of Jack and Annie were on borrowed time. Sometimes a franchise needs to understand when to quit. However, this is show business, so it’s likely hard for executives to understand that meaning. The focus should’ve been on the script and how to get it into tip top shape. However, one of the key things should’ve been to get Reeves back on board. The franchise is synonymous with Annie and Jack, and it was awkward having another guy take over the reigns as the lead in the sequel. No disrespect to Jason Patric, but the characterization paled in comparison to Jack Traven so there was always a black cloud hanging over his role. Could Speed make a return? Possibly. It could be fun seeing Jack and Annie one last time. The sequel can recon Cruise Control and catch-up to the couple and the latest madman who hates Jack’s guts. Maybe it’s the bastard son of Howard Payne? There was potential in a Speed franchise, but Fox managed to kill it within just two films.

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