Opinion: Hear me out — ‘Speed 3’ is the sequel we need

Editor’s Note: Patricia Grisafi, PhD, is a freelance writer whose work has been featured in The Guardian, Salon, NBC, Los Angeles Review of Books, The Mary Sue, The Daily Dot and elsewhere. The views expressed here are her own. Read more opinion on CNN.

Patricia Grisafi - Courtesy of Patricia Grisafi
Patricia Grisafi - Courtesy of Patricia Grisafi

“Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull” (2008) is not my favorite film of the Indiana Jones franchise by far. But I was thrilled to see Karen Allen reprise her role as Marion Ravenwood and get back in on the action nearly three decades after 1981’s “Raiders of the Lost Ark.” Marion is such a great character — slinging drinks in Nepal, holding her own in perilous situations — and getting to see her again, this time as an older woman with guts and heart, was exciting.

After all, we are so used to seeing older men playing action heroes with all the verve and pep of younger men. Sometimes it’s comical, but mostly we accept the situation because we’re used to accepting men as capable and strong until they’re on their deathbeds.

So when Keanu Reeves and Sandra Bullock mentioned on the podcast “50 MPH” that they would definitely be interested in starring in a theoretical third “Speed” movie, my ears perked up.

“Before I die, before I leave this planet, I do think that Keanu and I need to do something in front of the camera,” Bullock said. “Are we, you know, in wheelchairs or with walkers? Maybe. Are we on little scooters at Disneyland?”

It was a funny line, but Bullock and Reeves are not even close to unthinkable as characters in an action-based film. Look at the success Reeves has had with the John Wick films. He’ll be turning 60 this year — as will Bullock. There is no reason why two 60-year-old adults can’t hold down an action film.

The original “Speed,” which was directed by Jan de Bont, came out in 1994 and grossed about $350 million worldwide. The premise, of course, was wacky, but Reeves and Bullock made the idea of a speed-controlled bomb on a bus work.

Hear me out when I say we need to reprise this beloved classic. Let’s pretend “Speed 2: Cruise Control” (1997) never happened — the movie was a flop, and Reeves wasn’t even in it. I can see the modern-day version; characters Jack and Annie are brought together in some kind of revenge plot orchestrated by Howard Payne’s kid or something. Sparks fly! Stereotypes are shattered as a 60-year-old woman is portrayed as vigorously active on screen.

We already know once actresses reach a certain age, they start to get passed over for various roles. Older female actors in action roles often feel disposable and replaceable. When I see promotions for “Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga,” I recall that Charlize Theron wanted to reprise her iconic role, but director George Miller did not want to use de-aging technology and cast Anya Taylor-Joy instead. It’s true that the events of “Furiosa” take place about 20 years before “Mad Max Fury Road” (2015), but I suspect that if Furiosa was a male character played by a popular male actor, Miller would find a way to make it work.

We know the possibilities that come from supporting women with exciting roles as they mature. In “Everything Everywhere All At Once,” (2022) Michelle Yeoh, who was 59 when the film came out, knocks it out of the park as a martial artist. She won the Academy Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role for her performance.

We don’t have to keep franchising the hell out of every movie we hold dear. But there’s something satisfying about seeing familiar characters age in exciting ways — and about seeing an older woman kick ass.

Women are leading active lives and upending expectations. They’re having children later in life, pursuing physical challenges like mountain climbing and defining what aging looks like to them — and us. Wouldn’t it be cool to see Keanu Reeves and Sandra Bullock reprise their roles and hop on a motorcycle together instead of sitting on rocking chairs and staring wistfully at the sunset?

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