Liz Tells Frank What Happened In “Speed 2: Cruise Control”

Dear Frank,

The other day, I was sitting on the couch finishing a sandwich and watching TV, and I ended up on a HBO channel playing The Blind Side, a movie I saw months ago and didn’t much care for.

Which is why I’m very confused about this: I watched the WHOLE DAMN MOVIE, Frank. Start to finish. The whole time, I was thinking, god, this movie is really bad, but Sandra Bullock is so good in it! Sandra Bullock has been very good in many bad movies! What is the deal with that?

And that’s how I ended up watching Speed 2: Cruise Control, Frank. Because I kinda wanted to see which was the worst Sandra Bullock film between the two, thinking at the time that there was no way Speed 2 could be as bad as I remembered. WROOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOONG.

We open with your normal, standard, run of the mill police action — Jason Patric (doing his best with every line delivery to let us know that he knows he’s slumming it) on a shiny red motorcycle chasing down a delivery truck. (Nothing more by the book than a police chase on a motorcycle, am I right?)

This is cross-cut with Annie taking her DMV driving test, at which she is awful because LADY DRIVERS, am I right? (In this case, I’m not right.) Ugh, this is already pretty lame.

The chase ends with Jason Patric flinging his motorcycle under the truck just as Annie’s driving test literally crashes into the crime scene because this movie is a firm believer in the power of coincidence. Annie had thought that Jason was a beach patrol cop, doing nice safe beach patrol things, and so is mad because after dumping Keanu, she swore never to date another SWAT guy and WHOOPS that’s what Jason is. So Jason… takes her on a Caribbean cruise!!!! That is totally what happens. Their relationship makes ALL THE SENSE.

So now — cruise! Annie is very excited about the cruise. Jason is planning to propose to her! And Willem Dafoe is really into golf — no, wait, he’s evil! And his golf clubs contain evildoing stuff! Like eels! I really don’t know what’s going on. (Also, Willem, you were JESUS. You know better than this.)

Oh, so nothing about this was making sense, but now I think I understand, because during dinner the cruise director is like “hey, everyone, check out this shit-ton of diamonds worth millions, that’s fun cruise activity stuff, looking at millions of dollars worth of diamonds–”

OH FUCK ANNIE AND JASON ARE BANTERING. Frank, here’s what I just had to listen to:

Annie: Can you picture me as a mom?
Jason: I think you’re going to make a beautiful mom — just don’t drive the carpool. (Remember, because she’s a horrible driver?)
Annie: Jeez. Kids. I don’t know.
Annoying lady at the table: Kids aren’t on the menu?
Annie: They’re on the menu — depends on who’s ordering!
Jason: So can I order a la carte?
Annie: I don’t know if you’re sitting in my section or not.
Jason: I requested this table.
Annie: Are you a good tipper?
Jason: Depends on the service.
Annie: It’s always service with a smile for you.
Jason: How about at every meal?

(Frank, I had to listen to that three times to transcribe it. THE THINGS I DO FOR YOU.)

After all this super sexy talk, Jason chickens out of proposing (for like the fifth time in ten minutes) and goes back to his cabin to barf in a bucket. (Seriously. There is a nice long pan over the happy couple in their room, next to a barf-covered bucket.)

Thanks movie! Great production design.

But you know who doesn’t go back to his cabin? Willem! He instead plays drunk to plant some techy blinky thing on the bridge, then plant other stuff in other places around the ship. You know what was awesome about Speed? You didn’t spend half an hour watching a guy skulk around talking to his pet eels. I think by this point in the original Speed at least $10 million worth of public property had been destroyed.

Oh bee tee dubs, Willem’s pets? They’re not eels, they’re leeches. which he’s apparently using to self-medicate because WHAT. I guess Willem’s doing the dying villain thing? I really miss Dennis Hopper.

Oh, everyone on the bridge is British. This movie came out the same year as Titanic, if you were wondering.

Movie I'd rather be watching #1: "Titanic"

In between Annie whining that she doesn’t really know Jason at all and Jason shooting skeet, Willem is finally getting his proper evil on, killing the porter and the ship’s captain. And then, just as Jason finally gets the cajones to propose, Willem starts fucking up the ship!

Hey, remember the first Speed, when the meat of the bus story was the fact that Dennis Hopper was trying to get revenge on Keanu, as opposed to a random string of coincidences bringing them together? Single tear.

Willem makes a scary terrorist call to the bridge and then the guy on the bridge orders an evacuation. Everyone just thinks its fires or something, but Jason’s spidey cop sense says no! Especially when a crew member lets slip that it’s not a fire, but “a guy” who’s behind all this.

But first, Jason has to save a lifeboat that’s failing at going into the ocean — by the way, no wonder this movie is PG-13, people falling into the ocean is such a clean, bloodless death. But you know what won’t be clean and bloodless? When the cruise ship smashes into an island! Which appears to be part of Willem’s plan.

Ugh. We’ve gotten into the taunting hostage situation portion of our evening, as Willem uses the intercom to taunt Jason, who’s trying to put himself in charge of the situation and thus pissing off the most senior crew member left, who is bland and uninteresting much like everyone else in this movie. Oh, save Willem, but only because he’s crazy and ridiculous.

We get his backstory, BTW — he used to work for the cruise line designing fancy cruise ship tech, but they fired him when he got sick. Dude, file a wrongful termination lawsuit. Lawyers are a pain, sure, but you know what else is a pain? LEECHES and CRASHING CRUISE SHIPS. Though he has managed to get into the ship vault and steal all the diamonds that for some reason are seen as a exciting feature for a cruise ship to have.

Movie I'd rather be watching #2: "Gentlemen Prefer Blondes." (It also takes place on a boat! And is awesome.)

Oh, there’s a pre-teen deaf girl lost on the ship. Jason saves her. That’s a good thing! She has a crush on him, and so he tells her “Relationships based in extreme circumstances never work out.” WHOA DUDE. WHOA.

I’m honestly not sure what’s going on at this point. They’re trying to make the ship stop so that it won’t smash into that island, and Willem’s fucking around with the doors and trapping Jason in various locations on the ship so that he can blow him up. It’s SUPER-DUPER-EXCITING, and Annie is trying to be useful and somewhat succeeding, but there’s no logic to anything that’s occurring. This is a good moment for me to offer this excerpt from the Speed 2: Cruise Control Wikipedia page, in regards to the film’s early development:

Speed screenwriter Graham Yost had an idea for a film involving a boat, with a Vietnam War-era vessel loaded with weapons that would explode if its ammunition came in contact with water. He also had an idea for a story about a plane that has to fly through the Andes mountains, but cannot ascend above 10,000 feet (3,000 m)

To this movie’s credit? Those ideas sound WAY FUCKING WORSE. To this movie’s discredit? According to Wikipedia, director Jan de Bont thought that this movie would be “funnier” than Speed.

Movies I'd rather be watching #3: "Speed"

Anyways, Annie finally frees Jason from one of Willem’s booby-trapped doors, and they all start brainstorming ways to fuck up the boat enough to make it stop moving, I guess because they’re out of lifeboats or something. So one of the crew guys (the abusive dad from Once Were Warriors! AKA Jango Fett!) and Annie lower Jason down to the propeller in a scuba mask to fuck up the propeller. They try to raise him up, but Willem fucks up that effort like a wacky Bugs Bunny, sabotaging a thing so it breaks off. Jason manages to get back up to the surface, but Annie gets taken hostage on Willem’s speedboat!

Oh, and Jason somewhere in the middle of this takes off his shirt but then puts on another shirt. I’m not totally sure how it happens and why there are all these shirts lying around for Jason to put on, but them’s the breaks.

By the way, you know who makes for a sympathetic bunch of people-who-might-get-killed? The assortment of folks who might find themselves on Los Angeles public transit. You know what doesn’t? A bunch of well-to-do people on a cruise, especially the pretty young lady who, right just now, said “How could this happen on our honeymoon?”

THEY ARE STILL TRYING TO STOP THE SHIP. It is super boring. There are 35 minutes left! Uuuuuuuuuuugh. Through the magic of vents and pipes and stuff that’s not totally clear, they manage to steer the boat around an oil tanker with only a few scrape-sies that don’t at all look super CGI and fake (sarcasm there, Frank, in case you couldn’t tell). But that island is still waiting for them! And they’ve steered themselves towards a happy frolicky part of the island, too!

That’s when someone gets the bright idea to DROP THE MOTHERFUCKING ANCHOR. In fairness, they’re going so fast that the anchor gets ripped out of the boat immediately. But still, C’MON.

The cruise ship starts running into water craft, which does have the unexpected benefit of slowing them down! But the important thing is BOOM BOOM BOOM SUCK IT YACHTS. And then SUCK IT, PIER. And then, finally, SUCK IT, ISLAND. I mean, the boat does eventually stop. It doesn’t ram its way through the entire island. Though it is funny to imagine that happening.

Oh, by the way, so Annie and Willem are still hanging out on some jet ski/motorboat hybrid, and Willem’s like, ahahahahaha I’m so evil and crazy whatcha gonna do, splash water on me, and then Annie notices that they are both sitting on JET SKIS with easily accessible release handles and so she just pulls the release handle on his jetski and he falls off the boat! WOW, movie. Wow. The best part? As Willem drifts away he shouts “Wait, Annie, stay with me! You’re supposed to be my hostage!” REAL QUOTE.

Figuring he should try and track down his ladyfriend, Jason steals a boat from the same guy who Keanu stole a car from in the first Speed. HAHAHAAH get it it’s just like the thing that happened last time! Meanwhile, Willem COULD just take his jetski and get on with his life (specifically, with his BACKPACK FULL OF DIAMONDS that he’s managed to hold onto) but no, he really wants to bring Annie along with him in his sea plane. Great.

Even better, Jason shoots a harpoon gun to tether himself to the plane, pull himself on board and drag Annie out. Willem then flies away to safety, but ends up crashing on that oil tanker from before and it goes boom! Chekhov would be pleased.

Movies I'd rather be watching #4: Anything with this guy in it.

Anyways, Jason saves Annie, finally proposes, and yay engaged. More importantly — yay end of movie! Oh sweet god, thank you for that.

Here’s the important thing, Frank: I was watching this largely to see if I would still enjoy a Sandra Bullock performance in a terrible movie; if she has some sort of super-power that keeps crap like this from sticking to her. And the answer is NOPE. She is very bad in this movie, over-the-top unbearable in the face of Jason’s rigid stoicism — a proto-manic pixie dream girl, if you will, though lacking any element of that stereotype that might prove charming. So there you go. We have all learned a lot, Frank. The most important lesson being: NEVER AGAIN, SPEED 2: CRUISE CONTROL. NEVER AGAIN.


About Liz Shannon Miller

Liz Shannon Miller is a Los Angeles-based writer and editor, and has been talking about television on the Internet since the very beginnings of the Internet. She is currently Senior TV Editor at Collider, and her work has also been published by the New York Times, Vulture, Variety, the AV Club, the Hollywood Reporter, IGN, The Verge, and Thought Catalog. She is also a produced playwright, a host of podcasts, and a repository of "X-Files" trivia.

Posted on December 6, 2011, in All the Spoilers, Movies and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 9 Comments.

  1. “Movies I’d rather be watching #4: Anything with this guy in it.”


    Fun fact: This movie came out a week before Batman & Robin. That summer nearly killed me.

  2. Hey, every family needs a slightly-annoying, and yet still-endearing class-clown. Star Trek V is just that clown.

    PS – as enjoyable as your comments are, just having to read through the horrible plot of that movie again was pretty painful. My sympathies for actually having to WATCH it.

  3. Thank you for this. I’ve always wanted to see this movie. Now I never have to.

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