Movie Review - Speed 2
'Speed 2' lacks control
Sequel wastes good actors and slips into spectacular tedium

Speed BY MARGARET A. McGURK
The Cincinnati Enquirer

The first Speed was a surprise.

The plot was gimmicky but clever. Keanu Reeves came across as an offbeat but credible tough guy. And Sandra Bullock showed star-sized charisma in a spunky role.

Speed 2: Cruise Control is bigger, louder, faster, longer and much more expensive, but its only surprise is how little it gives Annie (Ms. Bullock) to do.

Speed 2
*

(PG-13; violence, language, sexual situations)
Sandra Bullock, Jason Patric, Willem Dafoe, Temuera Morrison.
Directed by Jan De Bont.
125 minutes.
National Amusements, Cinema 10.
First time out, at least she had a bus to drive. Here, she drives a VW, badly, in a comic driving-test scene (with Tim Conway along to grade her effort), then spends the rest of the movie basically wringing her hands.

She's a passenger on a cruise ship with her new police-officer boyfriend Alex (Jason Patric). He plans to pop the question, even though she's angry he never told her he belongs to a swashbuckling ''suicide squad'' of Los Angeles police.

He gets to show off his chops when Geiger (Willem Dafoe), a wacko computer scientist, kills the captain and takes over the ship. He's ticked off because he designed the ship's piloting and control systems, then got sick and was fired. His plan is to steal a load of diamonds from the vault, then send the ship crashing into an oil tanker.

In the early going, the plot actually cranks up some suspense, though once the basic facts are explained, the action turns as predictable as the alphabet.

It's painful to see Mr. Dafoe, an excellent actor, reduced to a snarling mad dog who treats his fatal disease -- copper poisoning? -- with leeches and spouts lines like ''Now you're gonna get it!''

Mr. Patric runs around kicking in doors and dangling from ropes while ship's officers yell at him to knock it off. Temuera Morrison (Once Were Warriors) is another fine actor wasted here as the first officer who takes over when the captain dies.

There are seeds of a suspenseful thriller within Speed 2, but director Jan De Bont and screenwriters Randall McCormick and Jeff Nathanson conspire to trample them under a deluge of explosions and corny dialogue.

The action reaches a peak when the ship plows into a Caribbean town, where we watch the filmmakers' money reduced to matchsticks at an agonizingly slow pace. Then, Mr. De Bont drags the audience along for a gratuitous add-on climax, complete with the villain slain in grotesque fashion.

There's a point where any spectacle turns tedious. Speed 2 reaches that point long before it ends and long after the audience starts itching to get out.

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