Tag Archives: Jan de Bont

Twister (1996) 3.71/5 (1)

 

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Rating: The Good –  66.7
Genre: Action, Adventure
Duration: 113 mins
Director: Jan de Bont
Stars: Helen Hunt, Bill Paxton, Cary Elwes

Jan de Bont’s second directorial effort after the smash hit Speed upped the ante on the action by following a bunch of storm-chasing scientists through tornado country as they attempt to figure out the secrets of the twister. Helen Hunt and Bill Paxton lead the ragtag pack of adrenaline junkies as the estranged married couple competing with a highly financed rival scientist (a slithery Cary Elwes) who stole their methodology. The action is everything you’d expect from the man who shot Die Hard and The Hunt for Red October and the relatively early CGI effects still hold up to this day. The tornado sequences themselves range between formidable and unlikely as writer Michael Crichton takes his usual liberties in adapting science for the screen. Hunt and Paxton are more than comfortable with each other and add an understated charm to the movie while a young Philip Seymour Hoffman puts in a memorable shift as the “crazy guy”. There’s plenty of humour courtesy of his and everyone else’s antics and a neatly developed assortment of characters (an often ignored strength of Crichton’s screenplays) ensure it blends seamlessly with the plot’s progression. Incidentally, Twister was the first movie released in DVD format and so it not only scores as an enjoyable action adventure but it also holds a position of some significance among the geekiest of movie fans.

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Speed (1994)

 

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Rating: The Good – 78.9
Genre: Action
Duration: 116 mins
Director: Jan De Bont
Stars: Keanu Reeves, Dennis Hopper, Sandra Bullock

Perhaps the last great Hollywood action movie of that genre’s greatest era had its most legendary cinematographer Jan DeBont sitting in the director’s chair to produce the ultimate white knuckle experience. Keanu Reeves and the always underrated Jeff Daniels play two LA (SWAT) cops who after foiling a terrorist’s (Dennis Hopper) original attempt to ransom the city must save the passengers of a bus that must stay above 50mph or else it will explode. The scenario is nuts but Hopper’s terrorist is just mad enough to make it seem perfectly reasonable. What is certain though is that the execution is flawless as DeBont treats us to a seemingly endless series of highly original nail-biting road-stunts. As you would expect from the DP behind Die Hard and The Hunt for Red October, the action co-ordination is spectacular and you will feel as though you have been transported into the bus as it crashes through downtown LA.

Reeves excels as the cocky but capable cop, Daniels is strong in support, while Hopper hams it up to an appropriate level as the villain. In addition, Sandra Bullock deservedly made her name by playing the plucky passenger who takes charge of driving the bus during all the bedlam. Speed isn’t perfect as the ending drags on a bit too long while also getting repetitive but these small quibbles aside, the film remains an outstanding piece of action cinema from a time when action films were made by guys with “big, round, hairy cojones”.


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