Duel Review

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It’s time for an old thriller with a truck as the main villain. We’ve done the evil car trick a few times in the past, but this film is fairly old so it might have been one of the first times we’ve seen it in cinema. Level up the car to a truck and you’ve got yourself a good thriller that’s ready to go. The film does fumble the ball a little in the second half and the main character doesn’t always make the right moves, but it’s an enjoyable film. I do like the lead’s name.

David is a struggling 9-5 worker. He gets the job done, but at home there is a lot of stress and drama over something that we never quite learn about. That’s not too important. What’s important is that David has to be home in time or it’s going to get tricky. He sets off on the road, but a giant truck starts honking at him. David pulls out the sweet moves and slows down enough for the truck to pass him. The problem? Now the truck has slowed down just enough so that he will miss a big meeting. David passes him but the truck takes it personally and decides to murder him. Can the hero get out of this?

The whole film centers around the fact that this truck is trying to murder the hero. However, he is limited by a set of rules. One, he’ll only go after the main character if he is in his car and ahead of the vehicle or if he drives backwards. David is safe if he stays parked. Next, the truck will attack if he tries to get help from other drivers or alert the cops. Finally, the truck is faster than David’s car so he can’t be out driven. Those are the basics of the situation so you can see how it’s tough for the main character. It doesn’t help that his detective skills aren’t really on point.

David could be rather annoying at times though. After being passed by the truck 2-3 times and finally passing it again, he lets go of his lead so he can go fill up on gas at the nearest station. Big mistake since the truck just follows him. We learn by the end that the truck is super fast so it probably would have passed him anyway, but it wasn’t a great move. Then he considers stopping at a cafe later although the truck doesn’t give him a chance. Once in the restaurant, David gets a little too eager and attacks the wrong guy. I had actually thought it was a misdirect and the driver was the lady in red who appeared out of nowhere, but it was apparently someone who got out when the main character wasn’t looking near the beginning or there’s a back exit.

David started making some decent moves by the end since there wasn’t much he could do at that point. It was a little late though and he cracked several times so I wouldn’t say that he took the situation particularly well. He wasn’t exactly Tom Cruise. The driver of the truck really liked messing with David though as he even saved a school bus just to show off. At the very least that was a nice thing to do even if it was just a PR stunt.

The first half of the film is pretty tense as a result. At first it seems like the driver is just in a hurry or maybe he had some kind of reason for slowing down after that. Gradually it becomes apparent that this guy is crazy and just wants to murder the guy. It’s pretty nice and atmospheric. The occasional change in scenery like the cafe was also pretty good. I liked the scenes in there for sure as we got some nice suspects even if they may have all been red herrings.

My problem with the film is that the second half just feels like a rehash of the first. He gets back on the road and into the exact same situation that he was in the first time. I feel like the film may have limited its options a little too much with the plot so they were forced to just keep on going with the same plan. They should have changed things up a bit in the second half. As a result, the film did drag on a little as the pacing completely died. If you watched the first 15 minutes of the film and the last 15, the bulk of those scenes would look very similar. David is driving away from the enemy car. It was a little repetitive and even if you cut out a big chunk of the film, it would have still worked out quite well. The film’s plot is very direct and there really isn’t much of a cast so it didn’t need a full film’s length to tell the story. What it could have done was add some extra characters or a new sub plot. Maybe add that extra climax at the end where a driver steps out to have a fight with David.

There really weren’t any subplots which I was fine with. No need for random filler plots, but it is a way to pad out the story. On the other hand, I’m glad we didn’t see more animals. As it is, it was iffy when the trick attacked a place with a bunch of bugs and a dog. Fortunately they seemed to make it out all right. It was a pretty intense scene since it showed that the truck was finally getting serious. I was also glad because it confirmed that the whole thing wasn’t fake. For a little while there, I was worried that the truck was going to be a figment of his imagination or something. The film would have very quickly dropped down quite a bit if that had been the case. Fortunately the film took the high road.

Overall, This film is definitely more of a slow burner than Jaws or Godzilla. It’s also a fair bit more repetitive so find something to focus on in the film or you may get bored watching the same roads over and over again. With the effects being rather limited back in the old days, I suppose the movie may not have had a very many options. I’d recommend checking it out if you want to see a good ole speed race. The stakes are high here so they definitely have to go as fast as they can. The lesson to learn here is that if you’re going to race, make sure that you’re ready to win!

Overall 7/10

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Speed Review

This review is of the edited TV-14 version of the film. All thoughts below should be addressed as such as a review of the unedited version would be more negative.
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It’s time for a classic thriller film. With a title like Speed, you’re definitely expecting a lot of action and intensity throughout and the film delivers. While there may be a moment or two that will stretch your disbelief, the film did a good job of covering its tracks for the most part. One thing that these films typically have a problem with is making the villain too powerful. He is somehow everywhere, has plans for everything, and ends up performing feats that make you question the logic. That’s not an issue here as Howard’s (The main villain) twist covers all of the bases.

Jack is one of the best swat officers in the business. He likes to go on gut instincts and always makes the villains pay for their criminal deeds. It’s just another day at the office when he stops a crazed bomber from destroying an elevator full of people. Unfortunately, the criminal has been nursing a grudge about this and shows up one day to even the score. He has planted a bomb on a bus so if it ever dips below 60 (I believe it was 60) mils an hour, it’ll blow up. If someone tries to leave the bus, it’ll blow up. If anyone other than Jack tries to get onto the bus, it’ll blow up. Etc etc. Howard seems to be able to see into the bus at all times so the heroes have to be careful. The fuel won’t last forever so Jack is going to have to rely on his instincts one more time.

Howard definitely has a lot of tricks up his sleeve. He has planted cameras in multiple areas and can tap into the police communicators. This all makes sense given what we know later on. He’s definitely psychotic and the film never tries to make him sympathetic. (That’s good since I wouldn’t have bought into that) He does a pretty good job although the heroes should have been able to defeat him a little sooner. There are two main points where he should have been taken down. One was immediately after the elevator incident as Jack could have shot him. The other was when he first implemented his plan. A security officer walked over and instead of calling for backup, he proceeded to get one shotted. It wasn’t his best moment. So, Howard’s plan was definitely risky throughout and I’m also wondering how he got out of his bomb suit in time. He definitely did raise the body count by the end of the film though so he did some damage before going down for the count.

I was a little surprised that a certain death towards the middle/end of the film wasn’t played up more. It was essentially skimmed over, but given the circumstances, I suppose they didn’t have much time to dwell on it. Jack’s a solid main character as you’d expect. He’s really good at his job and while he’s seen as a hot shot, he does take the time to think things through. He’s just a very reasonable character and it’s good to see the main lead have as much confidence as he does. Annie made for a good main heroine. She always had the witty comebacks at the ready and wasn’t intimidated by all of the chaos around her. She also did a good job of getting away from the troublemakers on the bus very early on. Those guys certainly didn’t help matters at all with all of their bickering. One lady was particularly bad as she just cracked and decided to ignore the obvious bomb as she tried to escape. The cops were almost as bad there though as they were trying to help her. Not a good move.

As always, I do have to say that the romance in the film was a little rushed and cliche though. Jack and Annie quickly bond because of this emotional experience. Annie even points out that romances this sudden and nonsensical rarely last which will probably be the case. Even ICarly had an episode about this where the main lead’s life was saved by the guy so she mistakenly thought that she liked him for a little while. You always have to be careful not to mix up feelings of gratitude with love. It’s not like it took much time out of the film though since it was only a quick moment at the end, but Hollywood has to squeeze in its romance somewhere.

I did mention that I had to stretch my disbelief a little before. I’m referring to one scene in particular as a large part of the road is gone so Jack decides that they have to drive over it. He figures that if they drive fast enough, the momentum will allow them to make it. This definitely should have not worked in the slightest. The gap was way too big and the camera angles had to quickly switch all over the place to make it seem even slightly realistic. So, that part was a little iffy, but the rest of it was all on point. The cops all picking obvious hiding points may have been a little sketchy, but I don’t blame them for not noticing the hole under the trash because that was pretty clever. They should have had the tracker on from the start…but that’s how it goers I suppose.

The soundtrack was pretty solid. The themes definitely worked really well for the film and kept up the energetic atmosphere. The writing was reasonably good. The edited version cut out most of the iffyness. It’s nothing to write home about, but at least the characters weren’t constantly running around swearing. While they were annoying, the people on the bus were also pretty realistic because I can picture everyone being super petty like them even in such a dangerous situation. It’s just how people are on a bus…even the guy with a gun. Shooting the driver was pretty iffy though and I felt bad for the guy, he didn’t ask for this! It’s also not every day that you get a bus thriller instead of the usual car one. I like car chases as much as the next guy, but adding a bus certainly changes the dynamic quite a bit.

Overall, Speed is a pretty good film. Jack was a good lead and the film played out like a fun action blockbuster. It may not be something that you’ll remember as an all time great but it didn’t really have any big negatives. The villain was tough and it made for some good mind battles between the two, but the film never went out of its way to make him extremely psychotic or intimidating with super violent scenes. The film was actually fairly tame in that regard and it’s been a while since we had a villain who was just in it for the money. It’s probably still the most iconic goal for an antagonist. I recommend checking this out if you like a fast paced action and the film is pretty long so a lot happens along the way.

Overall 7/10