1994, US, directed by Jan de Bont
A B-movie action flick with an A budget, Jan de Bont's directorial debut is a good exercise in making the most of what you have in the Hollywood context. Though Keanu Reeves has his moments as an actor, the director wisely keeps Reeves's dialogue here to a minimum, since he's far more convincing as a cop of action rather than a cop of words (Graham Yost's script, full of irritating verbal tics, most notably a running series of "pop quiz" remarks, doesn't help Reeves's cause).
While the premise, as in many an action movie, is absurd, de Bont moves the plot along so swiftly - and so clearly - that there's little time to reflect on the inconsistencies. He's helped enormously by the serendipity of a catching a young actress on the rise, the more so given that Sandra Bullock has tremendous onscreen chemistry with Reeves (by contrast, Dennis Hopper is a laughably manic villain). It's refreshing, too, to rewind a few years and watch a movie that depends more on old-fashioned sleight-of-hand and stuntwork than on CGI effects. Perfect post-Christmas bloated-stomach brain-detached watching.