Awfully Good: Speed 2: Cruise Control

Last Updated on August 5, 2021

Twenty years ago this week, a true cinematic disaster was unleashed upon the world…


Speed 2: Cruise Control (1997)


Director: Jan de Bont
Stars: Sandra Bullock, Jason Patric, Willem Dafoe

Keanu Reeves makes a wise business decision.

Without hyperbole, SPEED 2: CRUISE CONTROL may be the worst sequel ever made. We've seen many disappointing follow-ups in this column that failed to live up to the original—MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE II, THE EXORCIST 2, BLAIR WITCH 2, 2 FAST 2 FURIOUS, SHOWGIRLS 2, BABY GENIUSES 2—but none systematically destroyed every molecule of goodwill and enjoyment of a potential franchise like SPEED 2 does.

From the sequel WHILE YOU WERE CREEPING. .

Defying the odds that some part of this sequel would at least work by accident, SPEED 2 has zero redeeming qualities. The script is poorly thought out; a paint-by-numbers action movie full of cliches and head-scratching decisions. (See Willem Dafoe's villainous motivations below.) The action sequences are laughable and the acting across the board rarely overcomes community theater-levels of terrible. And just on a conceptual level, there are some immediate concerns right off the bat. While a cruise liner may technically be a bigger vehicle, there's something decidedly less dangerous and less exciting about a ship being hijacked in vast open waters than a bus speeding out of control through downtown Los Angeles. SPEED 2 was clearly going to be in trouble from the very first pitch meeting.

And Jason Patric doesn't kid around about his boogieing.

However, no loss is felt greater than that of Keanu Reeves, who wisely took one look at the script and decided he'd rather tour with his band than touch this celluloid turd. Replacement star Jason Patric had his work cut out for him as Alex Shaw, but the writing does him no favors. Because he's from the LAPD, Shaw somehow thinks he should be in charge at all times and spends the entire movie ordering people around, ignoring anyone else's opinions, and even threatening to kill innocent civilians if they don't do what he says. His character might honestly be worse than the terrorist villain, who was at least planning on evacuating the ship of all people before taking it over. Jason Patric is the one who forced everyone off the life raft and made them get back on the boat with a madman.

Sandra Bullock's Fonzie impression was riveting.

That leaves it to poor Sandra Bullock to essentially carry this entire movie herself on her charm alone. Unfortunately, as written, Annie is both annoying and useless this time around. She spends most of the movie reacting to what other people are doing and at one point is taken hostage and pretty much forgotten about for the last act. Bullock also tries her hardest to sell the romance, but her and her costar just have no chemistry whatsoever and their scenes together are painful (i.e. Jason Patric finally opening up and sharing his badge number as a big romantic gesture). In the end, it just comes down to the fact that as a character, Annie was not enough to continue this franchise around. It's like DIE HARD 2 starring Reginald VelJohnson.

I still don't understand why Sam Raimi put a mask on this guy.

Also wasted is the great Willem Dafoe, as one of the most bizarre villains of all time. His character is a former software engineer for cruise ships, who was fired after he got copper poisoning from being near computers. (100% not a real thing, by the way.) After using leeches to cleanse the copper from his body (also, definitely not a real thing), he's back to get his revenge by hijacking a boat and crashing it in to some rocks. Dafoe obviously can play a bad guy in his sleep (so much so that Jason Patric's character immediately recognizes him as a villain within seconds of seeing him), but again the script ruins any chance of him being effective or intimidating. When he takes Bullock hostage she spends the entire time fighting back and not listening to him. It's never a good thing when the bad guy in your movie actually has to say the line, "Annie, come back! You're my hostage!"

And a quick shoutout to the cast of weird supporting characters on the ship, including the cruise photographer who inexplicably continues taking pictures of everyone throughout the terrorist attack and the underage deaf girl who keeps hitting on Jason Patric. You can also enjoy a cameo by reggae band UB40 as the cruise's house band, although to be honest, they may have already been playing on the ship before it was rented for the movie.

Jan de Bont instituted a strict "Who smelt it, dealt it" policy on the set.

Even director Jan de Bont, who proved adept at popcorn crowdpleasers with the original SPEED and TWISTER, seems to be on autopilot here, turning in some truly boring action scenes. Here's a great example: You remember that amazing sequence in BAD BOYS 2 where the bad guys throws cars at Will Smith and Martin Lawrence as they chase them in a Ferrari? SPEED 2 opens with a version of that, except it's someone in a van throwing clearly-empty cardboard boxes at Jason Patric as he rides slowly behind them on a motorcycle. The rest of the action in the movie is relegated to random characters jumping around the ship, trying to open doors on the ship, and occasionally having to swim on the ship.

Against all odds, the TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE – BLIND SIDE crossover actually worked.

Halfway through, the writers clearly realized the only thing a giant boat can do is run in to other things. So they have repetitive sequences where the ship collides first with an oil tanker and then into an island port…going around 10 miles an hour. I'd say 40 minutes of SPEED 2 is just people waiting around for the boat to slowly crash in to things. The final set piece, which allegedly cost tens of millions of dollars and required the construction of a full size replica of both the ship and the port town to be destroyed, is laughably unexciting. And it really comes across as if it's supposed to be played for laughs. From everyone failing to notice a giant cruise ship coming at them from 10 feet away to some truly outlandish reactions from the extras, it feels like something out of AIRPLANE or THE NAKED GUN. And what's even more amazing is that in spite of actually crashing a real ship in to real buildings, the sequence still manages to look incredibly fake and unconvincing.

From the sequel TITANIC 2: JACK'S REVENGE.

There's a lot more I could write about the maddening failings of SPEED 2, but I'll just finish by saying that its biggest sin is that it's unbearably long. At one point it felt like the movie was finally wrapping only to mysteriously still have half an hour left. It somehow feels even longer than another ship-based disaster movie that was released the same year and was actually four hours long.

"Oh shit!" You won't believe that all these stinkers made it in to the final film.

The film's climactic and comedic boat crash. BONUS: Sandra Bullock with a chainsaw!

Sandra Bullock in a bikini. And Jason Patric can't seem to figure out how to button his shirt.

Already own SPEED and THE LAKE HOUSE? Buy this movie here!

Take a shot or drink every time:

  • Jason Patric is a dick
  • Someone thinks Sandra Bullock and Jason Patric are married
  • Dante takes a picture
  • Willem Dafoe is ineffective
  • Someone gets sucked under the ship
  • Someone says "Oh shit"

Double shot if:

  • Tamuera Morrison breaks an arm


Thanks to Rob, Derek and Eliot for all suggesting this week's movie!


Seen a movie that should be featured on this column? Shoot Jason an email or follow him on Twitter and give him an excuse to drink.


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