For once a movie that’s unremittingly true to its name. No tricks here. Madman and bad man (Dennis Hopper, mostly off screen) engineers a bus “hijacking.” Bad choice for bad man. On the bus, in addition to terrified passengers, is undercover cop-cum-good guy (Keanu Reeves) and female sidekick (Sandra Bullock).
Here’s the trick: Bad guy’s bomb is rigged to go off if the bus slips beneath 50 m.p.h. Director Jan De Bont gets under L.A.’s hangnail obsession with traffic and moving parts. He turns his movie into an old-style rollercoaster. At the same time, he also teases wit and chemistry from Reeves and Bullock. It helps that Bullock’s Annie is forced to drive the thing, a backhanded gender game.
That’s it, really: save bus, innocent people, get madman, and (maybe) girl. De Bont, who produce the tight cinematography for “Die Hard” and “Total Recall,” accelerates when he should slow down and vice versa, keeping the pace lively. It’s in the great tradition of Saturday Matinee entertainment. ‘Nuff said.