magine you’re a movie executive and someone walks in with a pitch that goes something like this; “So there’s a Los Angeles city bus rigged with a bomb, but the bomb will only go off if the bus goes below 50 mph. The guy from Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure plays an LAPD officer who boards the bus to try and save the day. We call it …. Speed.” Who could deny this simple-minded genius? Speed (1994) is an absolutely rip-roaring thriller that could only have been released in the ’90s. It stars Keanu Reeves, Sandra Bullock, Dennis Hopper, and Jeff Daniels. It’s one of the rare films that gets the watch right for the character, pairing a cult-classic digital timepiece with the wrist of the hero.
The internet absolutely erupted when the official trailer for the upcoming Matrix: Resurrections was released this past weekend. Everyone rode the nostalgia wave back to 1999 when we first had to choose between the red pill and the blue pill. The trailer also gave our first look at 2021 Neo (played by Reeves), with a new long-haired and bearded look – so basically, John Wick. In the spirit of celebrating the former Wyld Stallyns frontman, I queued up a peak ’90s Keanu Reeves action thriller.
As an aside, I want you all to know that I read the comments every week and take note of all your amazing suggestions. There are a few films where the cries are just a little bit louder than all others – and Speed is one of them.
Speed opens with the proverbial pedal to the metal. A terrorist (played by Dennis Hopper) rigs an office building elevator with a bomb. The LAPD comes in to respond to the threat and sends two of its best, partners Jack Traven (what a name), played by Reeves, and Harry Temple, played by Daniels, to disarm it. There’s a real old-school buddy-cop element to their relationship. While in the elevator shaft, the two start having a conversation about their choice of career. Little do they know, the bomber is listening in. Traven beings to question why he ever got into this line of work in the first place, to which Temple replies:
Oh come on – thirty more years of this, and you get a tiny pension and a cheap gold watch.
– HARRY TEMPLE
Since he still has three decades to go before getting his retirement watch, Traven opts for the least-gold watch there is. On his bomb-stopping wrist is the now-iconic Casio G-Shock DW-5600C-1V, which has since been colloquially re-named the “Speed G-Shock.”
The DW-5600C-1V is quintessential G-Shock, with its super-recognizable case design. It’s black, with a black resin strap, and features a classic Casio digital readout surrounded by colorful text indicating depth rating, shock resistance, and alarm functionality. The model dates to 1987, and while it isn’t the first of the G-Shock line (that was released in 1983), it’s as close as they come, since there weren’t too many updates made over those four years. Some notable features of the watch – which was discontinued in the mid-’90s – are its stainless steel inner case and a screw-lock caseback. The latter feature is something only seen on more premium models today.
G-Shock watches have not reached the bonkers price levels of many vintage Swiss watches today, but there is a serious subculture of fans who collect older (dare I say vintage?) G-Shocks. It’s nuances like that caseback and the connection to this film that have made the DW-5600C-1V collectable over the years.
In 1994, however, it was just a G-Shock. That meant it was a rugged and durable digital watch that could survive anything – maybe even a bomb (but don’t test that). So it makes perfect sense that an LAPD officer would choose this as his daily wear – especially since his daily life consists of free-jumping down elevator shafts and jumping onto moving vehicles. Basically, a lot of jumping. But he doesn’t just wear it in the field. In a scene where he and his partner are awarded medals for their bravery in the elevator attack, Traven wears a full suit and tie for the ceremony and after-party. His watch of choice? His G-Shock. Clearly, it’s a special one.
Almost exactly 30 minutes into the film, the real plot is set in motion. Just after Traven picks up his morning coffee and muffin, and bids adieu to his friend – a city bus driver – the bus explodes, killing the driver. Moments later, a payphone rings. Suspicious of the timing, Traven answers and finds the bomber on the other end of the line, who proceeds to detail having rigged a bus with an explosive that will detonate if it goes below 50 mph, unless he is paid $3.7 million by 11 AM. Traven immediately looks at his wrist. At this moment (00:30:33) the camera zooms in on the G-Shock, revealing the time as 8:05 AM. Then the action really begins.
Traven tracks down the bomb-rigged bus and boards it … while it’s in motion … on the highway. After the bus driver is shot by an errant bullet, frequent rider Annie (played by Sandra Bullock) takes the wheel. Once she has control of the bus, Traven phones Temple to help him identify the bomb and possibly disarm it. He manages to open a hatch in the floor to get a look beneath the bus and see the bomb, and oh boy, does he find it. Not only is there an explosive device, but it is timed by – wait for it – a watch [00:45:08]. Harry asks from the other end of the phone, “What kind of watch?” To which Traven replies “Gold … gold band, fairly cheesy.” The watch appears to be a gold Rolex Day-Date, also known as the “President,” but closer inspection (and some photo editing) reveal it to be an unknown-brand lookalike. It’s no doubt a callback to the gold watch conversation earlier in the film. One thing is for sure, that watch is da bomb.