SPEED 4x600ft colour sound scope Available from Derann

A psychotic ex-cop (wet[ played by Dennis Hopper), having been thwarted out of a ransom by SWAT teamsters Jack Traven (Keanu Reeves) and Harry (Jeff Daniels), takes his revenge by arming a bus so that if it's speed falls below 50 mph, a bomb planted aboard will explode. Jack and Harry once again attempt to outwit him.

A bus traveling at 50 mph is perhaps not much on which to hang a 116 minute plot. The trick of course is what can happen to impede the bus, cause it to explode and kill it's passengers. Full marks then to Graham Yost for a screenplay that takes it step beyond being overwhelmed by a barrage of special effects, though of course these do figure prominently.

A directorial debut par-excellence for former cameraman Jan De Bont too. Impressive opening titles and near non-stop action without some of the mindless comic asides that mar so many similar releases. Oh it's not perfect. The plot is so full of holes that the cast could fall through it but it's skillfully executed that one tends not to be too critical, even if one is aware of the occasional slight-of-hand like the bus not moving much, or even at all at times (easily spotted if you turn off the sound and just observe the picture). Never mind, this and other aspects must have kept the editor, John Wright on his toes.

Interwoven into the frantic and peril-strewn journey of the doomed bus is the hunt for Howard Payne, the ex-cop turned bomber who has a nasty habit of concocting booby traps that are only too effective - this of course keeps the audience totally engrossed, with much wear and tear on the collective nerves. You certainty think twice about bus journeys after this film even if you don't use your brain much during it.

This will probably be one of Derann's best-ever 'Scope releases. The action-packed content is backed by a pin-sharp print that also has good sound. Certainly the three sequences I screened at the BFCC looked very good indeed, among the best available on 8mrn and with considerable screen impact. Very highly recommended - consider taking a part-time job to get it.

Print A/A* Sound A Keith Wilton