One of the better aspects of the recent Bank Holiday was the plethora of films as cheap airtime fillers on television. I saw some gems that I’d seen before, but still had a blast watching.
Speed. Hard to believe this is the thick end of 25 years old. Woodentop Reeves does what he does best, which is action stuff with not too much depth. Sandra Bullock plays her part with a great deal of charm and a good sense of comic timing. Then you have jobbing villain to the film industry, Dennis Hopper, being as mad as a box of frogs. No change there then. I can’t decide if he or Christopher Walkern is the more barking.
It’s a pretty well used formula now, but Speed pretty much started the trend for films that consist entirely of action setpieces loosely stitched together Too bad they tried to recapture the concept in the diabolically bad sequel Speed 2. Even Sandra Bullock couldn’t make that sow’s ear into a silk purse. Just saying.
I also got to see The Tourist. I was about 20 minutes into it before I thought, ‘Hang on. I’ve seen this before.’ I suspect the first time might have been while I was off my face on something. Anyway you get Angelina Jolie drifting about looking aloof and pouty, Johnny Depp reprising his Captain Jack Sparrow run over rooftops in Venice, and an ending that takes you mildly aback. I liked it. Again.
Then the jewel in the crown. It’s hard to credit it, but Short Circuit turned thirty last year. I’m pleased to tell you the intervening years haven’t dulled its appeal and sense of fun. There’s a bit of casual racism that probably wouldn’t make it through the casting (The Indian scientist Jabituya is played by the distinctly un-Indian Fisher Stevens with an accent straight out of the Peter Sellars school of acting), but set that aside and you get 100 minutes of delight. Ally Sheedy and Steve Guttenberg work well together, and Stevieboy teams up with his old mucker GW Bailey, the dastardly lieutenant from Police Academy.*
The starring role though is the robot, Number 5. Again it’s been done before and since, but this is one of the most endearingly expressive bits of hardware you could possibly wish for. And no CGI in sight, which is always a plus, isn’t it?
*I quite liked that too, as it happens. The first one, anyway. The franchise got progressively more tired and unwatchable.