Sunday 7 December 2014

Review: Speed 2 - Cruise Control (#CrapSequels)

World of Blackout: CRAP SEQUEL SEASON!

flms. srs bsns. We've all been there; Browsing in Blockbuster, the HMV sale or the bargain-DVD section in Sainsbury's, and we come across a plastic case which gives us an involuntary tingle of excitement. Someone's made a sequel to that movie we like! How did this slip under our radar? Why wasn't this on at our local cinema? Why are we only hearing about this now? Well, there's only one way to answer that question; it involves spending the requisite £3 and usually ends with the question 'Why did this get made, never mind how?'.

The rules for selection are as follows: 1) The film needs to be a poorly received sequel to a generally successful film (so no crap sequels to crap originals, and no crap remakes of originals), 2) Films from longer series are fine, but the choice needs to be part two of that line, 3) I'm not intending to watch any of the associated part-ones as part of this run (whether I'm familiar with them or not), so there'll be extra pressure on the crap sequel to work on its own terms. So join me as I delve into some of the crappest, most unwarranted follow-ups of all time (hopefully with a couple of underrated, misunderstood gems thrown in).

How bad can it be, right? I mean, the original was good…

CRAP SEQUELS! Speed 2: Cruise Control.

#CrapSequels: Speed 2: Cruise Control
Cert: PG / 125 mins / Dir. Jan De Bont
Year: 1997 (3 years after the first movie)

The general feeling: RT Score: 3% / IMDB Score: 3.7

This film was released in the same year as Good Will Hunting. Think about that for a second. The re-recorded 20th Century Fox fanfare tells you that something is deeply amiss here well before it slides into the ominous yet camp opening score, and we're dropped into the action as slick supercop Jason Patric plays second fiddle to a Ducati and Sandra Bullock provides a verbal catchup session interwoven with comic relief as she fails her driving test (even though there's nothing to comically relieve, yet*1). Anyway, nine minutes into the film and all the backstory you'll need is done and dusted; Bullock's Annie apparently has a mental age of 12 and is now seeing Patric's Alex (who has a mental age of 16), and they're off on a cruise. Because of… plot reasons? Cue shot of cruise-ship and jaunty faux-calypso music…

Well, the script is fucking atrocious, but at least Bullock seems to autopilot into it (which, in fairness, says more about Sandra's CV than her acting abilities); Patric manages to make dreadful lines sound even worse by apparently not having read them before the cameras rolled. And before eleven minutes are on the clock, Willem Defoe steps out of a cabin and announces himself as The Baddie™ by not smiling (other than the wry grin he sports when he's fiddling with a set of Bond-esque computer/bomb golf clubs, which also seem to be ideal for beating cabin-crew members to death).

And just when you think you're settling into the overbearing sub-standardness of the whole, torrid affair as Jason Patric practices sign language with a little girl in a clear case of The Screenwriter's Boomerang™, UB40 have a cameo appearance as themselves as the ship's entertainment. The 1992 horror flick Hellraiser 3: Hell On Earth had Armored Saint. 1994's comedy Ace Ventura: Pet Detective had Cannibal Corpse. So naturally, 1997 action-thriller Speed 2: Cruise Control would have UB40. This particular factoid serves as an allegory for the entire film. The one upside of this is, of course, that at least the deaf girl wouldn't be sitting listening to UB40. Every cloud…

And so Defoe's physically and psychologically unstable megalomaniac, John Geiger, then creeps around the ship, planting handily beeping bugs and setting computer overrides, from which point onwards it's Action Thriller By Numbers as nothing can stop the inevitable, horrifying collision between Die Hard and The Poseidon Adventure. Normally of course, you'd have likeable characters or a coherent plot to thwart the antagonist, but like I said nothing can.

The script drags its way through the three-act structure in exactly the way that a film with the word 'Speed' in the title shouldn't, and naturally is way too fucking long, with three apparent ending points; the last of which involves a speedboat, two jetskis and a seaplane. And an oil-tanker. I'd like to actively hate the film as much as the actual critics apparently do, but quite frankly I sat through worse in the 1990s, and I've sat through worse since. That doesn't change the fact that Speed 2 should never have been made, of course, but it should really have starred Seagal or Van Damme and gone nowhere near a cinema. Not utterly without merit I suppose, but loses a point for having characters frequently explaining the actions of a protagonist which they wouldn't be able to fucking see. And after all of that, the villain is brought down by his own poor driving skills, which could be irony but I wouldn't credit the film with that much self-awareness.

A d-list thriller with a c-list cast, the only thing Speed 2 should have powered its way to is the bottom shelf in a video-rental store. It's not that you want a cruise-ship full of holidaymakers to die at sea, it's just that there's a good chance they'd take UB40 with them, so…

Have you seen this before??
I have not.

…but have you seen the original movie?
Yes, but not since about 1995.

Do I have to have seen the original movie?
Not really, it's largely the same as every other 90's action movie.

How many of the original film's stars returned?
Director Jan De Bont has dragged back Bullock (obviously) as well as a depressing number of the first film's bit-part players for the land-based scenes.

Worth expanding into threequel territory?
Fuck, no.

Rent it, stream it, or wait for it to be on TV?
If you're going to watch this, I'd advise being in An Advanced State Of Refreshment™.

Ah, but is there a Wilhelm Scream?
Not that I heard, but I spent much of the film crying, inwardly at least…

And if I HAD to put a number on it…

And my question for YOU is…
But you know, don't you, you just know that the writers (all fucking four of them) thought of that title with a view to getting Tom Cruise on board? Come on, they're bound to have…

*1 Although by the time everything's gone tits-up on The Good Ship Lobotomy, Sandra's comic interjections arrive with the welcome appropriateness of a dick-joke at a eulogy...

• ^^^ That's dry, British humour, and most likely sarcasm or facetiousness.
• Yen's blog contains harsh language and even harsher notions of propriety. Reader discretion is advised.
• This is a personal blog. The views and opinions expressed here represent my own thoughts (at the time of writing) and not those of the people, institutions or organisations that I may or may not be related with unless stated explicitly.

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