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Weekly Alibi The Little Tugboat That Couldn't

Speed 2: Cruise Control

By Devin D. O'Leary

In the kind of silly synchronicity that seems to happen so often in Hollywood, there are two films coming out this summer that are set aboard cruise ships. One (Speed 2: Cruise Control) features perky action heroes Jason Patric and Sandra Bullock. The other (Out To Sea) has grumpy old men Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau on board. Which one do you think is more accurate?

So there are Sandra Bullock and Jason Patric, living it up on a cruise ship full of uncharacteristically young, attractive people. Bullock is Annie, the "Murphy's Law" poster-child who drove the bus in Speed. Seems that Jack (Keanu Reeves), the daredevil L.A.P.D. officer she bused and bussed in the first film, just wasn't the romantic type (plus he had to go touring with his lame-o rock band Dogstar), so he's out of the picture. Jason Patric is Annie's new beau Alex, a daredevil L.A.P.D. officer, who, in stark contrast, is the romantic type. So there they are on the damn boat, dancing and sipping Piña Coladas when along comes crater-faced psycho Geiger (Willem Dafoe, chucking all that English Patient goodwill to the four winds). Geiger is the bad guy, you see, so he shows up on the cruise ship with his pet leeches (don't ask) and a bag full of high-tech golf clubs that just happen to convert into remote-controlled firebombs. Pay attention here. It just so happens that the "Diamond Merchants of America" are on board and for some inexplicable reason they've brought with them an entire safe full of walnut-sized rocks. According to the "plot," Gieger used to program computer systems on board cruise ships, but the company fired him after he got ill, and now he's going to get even by planting his remote-controlled bombs all over the ship, hijacking it and stealing all those big fat diamonds.

Honestly, this is the kind of caper I'd expect to see King Tut and the Penguin come up with on the old "Batman" TV show. I kept expecting Adam West and Burt Ward to show up any second and save the day with a few well-placed BIFFs and SOCKs. Unfortunately, all we've got on this voyage is Bullock and Patric.

Now, Sandra Bullock is cute, and Jason Patric is a fine actor, but they're just not the type to carry this kind of film. If Patric never does another film again, he proved his talent years ago with his amazing portrayal in the grim little thriller After Dark, My Sweet. I can't blame the guy for wanting a little taste of those big, big action movie bucks. Unfortunately, Patric has sold his soul to the devil on this one; and like all deals with the devil, he's gonna end up getting screwed. Truth be told, it's really not a very glam assignment picking up Keanu Reeves' scraps. Speed 2 will sink quickly in the summer movie swamp, and Patric will become just another lame direct-to-video action hunk. That's a shame. Patrick's dark, laconic charisma just isn't right for this kind of fluff-filled star vehicle. We need a comfortable, whitebread charmer like Bruce Willis to distract us from all the plot holes and preposterous fireworks ricocheting off the screen. Rest assured, with its reported $100 million budget, there are plenty of the latter in Speed 2. Patric just looks like he's above such nonsense.

To discuss much more of the plot would be pretty pointless. Suffice to say that everything in this film either blows up, crashes or flies through the air at a great velocity. In the end, Speed 2 isn't so much action-packed as it is horribly frenetic. This film desperately wants to be a speed boat, but it looks like a tanker to me.

--Devin D. O'Leary

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