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`Speed 2' defies all logic

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If "Speed" was a white-knuckle thriller, "Speed 2" is a knucklehead thriller.

Before we get into this, however, let's recap the story line - for the benefit of those who've been living in a cave for the past month: "Speed 2: Cruise Control" is about a lone wolf terrorist/thief (Willem Dafoe) on a Caribbean cruise ship who blows up a lot of stuff while an L.A. SWAT cop (Jason Patric) and his girlfriend (Sandra Bullock) try to stop him. Storywise, that's about it.But there are plenty of dumb moments in "Speed 2" in addition to the silly plotting and lack of character development. (And I'm beginning to think audiences don't care about plot and character anymore, especially after the huge, if not unexpected, success of "The Lost World.")

The most obvious are continuity errors, which a lot of moviegoers have already mentioned to me. For example, there's a dramatic I-am-the-hero moment when Patric takes off his shirt, lets his pecs bask in the sun and runs through some hallways in the ship - and when he emerges on deck seconds later, he's wearing a different shirt! (My wife leaned over and whispered, "He must have gone through the ship's mall.")

There are a lot of mistakes of this kind - shoes that are on and then off, still waters when the ship is supposed to be moving, clouds in the sky that come and go within seconds, etc. (The continuity editor must have been off at a limbo contest.)

But my favorite goofy thing in "Speed 2" is "Lolita." That's right, Stanley Kubrick's black-and-white 1962 film with James Mason and Sue Lyon, about a middle-aged man's affair with a sexy teenager.

The movie is piped into Bullock and Patric's suite on the closed-circuit television system. And if I had never been on an ocean liner I might not have thought much about it. But because luxury cruises are designed to be ever so family-friendly, showing "Lolita" that way is, at best, unlikely. (And even if the suite had a VCR, this doesn't seem like a video Bullock's character would choose.)

And while I'm on a rant here, let's define "sequel." Is "Speed 2: Cruise Control" really a sequel? I mean, is it enough to just have Sandra Bullock playing the same character?

And what runaway vehicle will she climb aboard next? An out-of-control helicopter? "Speed 3: Chopper Blades"?

Beyond the obvious . . . that is, Bullock and the built-in moneymaking moniker "Speed 2" . . . what does this film have to do with the first?

Well, OK, there are some glancing references:

- Early in the film, Bullock makes a statement about her old boyfriend, referring to Keanu Reeves' character in the first film.

- And Joe Morton, who played Reeves' SWAT team captain, shows up (unbilled) as Patric's boss in the opening sequence.

- And after the cruise liner is hijacked, Bullock says, "I swear I am never leaving the house again!" (an obvious ripoff of a similar crack made by Bruce Willis in "Die Hard 2").

- And Glenn Plummer, whose Jaguar was trashed in the first film shows up here to have his new $100,000 boat trashed.

- And there is a joke about a speeding bus in the final scene (which you can also see in the film's trailers).

Hmmm. Well, OK. Maybe with all these cameo nods to "Speed" the film really is a sequel.

And maybe Eddie Murphy's "Coming to America" (1988) is a sequel to "Trading Places" (1983). Remember the scene with Don Ameche and Ralph Bellamy, as the two brothers they played in "Trading Places"? It was a very brief moment, but it also updated the brothers' circumstances.

And maybe Olsen & Johnson's "Crazy House" (1943) should be listed with the '30s and '40s Sherlock Holmes pictures? After all, Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce do a walk-on as Holmes and Watson, the characters they played in 14 mystery films.

Understand that I'm not suggesting for a moment that "Speed 2" can only be a sequel if Dennis Hopper's headless character is reprised (as an even more evil twin, perhaps?), or that Reeves and Bullock should get back on another bus that won't slow down.

But "Speed 2" might just as well have been another movie without the jokey references, and with Bullock playing a completely different character - maybe even the hero, instead of Patric assuming that role.

They could have come up with a whole new, original title.

"Speed Boat," perhaps.

Or maybe "Speed Boat 1."

- QUOTE OF THE WEEK: Willem Dafoe, currently playing the villain in "Speed 2: Cruise Control":

"Casting people feel that they have to get someone who looks a certain way, and I think that jury is still out whether people find me attractive or not. If some studio executive's wife finds you attractive, that's one thing. But if she says, `Oh, that creepy looking guy,' that role isn't going to be offered to you."

- QUOTE OF THE WEEK II: Oscar-winner Nicolas Cage, now starring in the action-thriller "Con Air":

"I've seen a lot of so-called important actors get high on their own importance after winning an award and think, `Well, I can't be in an action picture.' I'd rather say, `Nothing is beneath me.' If this movie is an action picture, let's make the best . . . action picture we can make."

- QUOTE OF THE WEEK III: Rene Russo, who has starred opposite Mel Gibson ("Lethal Weapon 3"), Clint Eastwood ("In the Line of Fire") and John Travolta ("Get Shorty"), now starring in "Buddy":

"I've exhausted all the leading males, so now I've moved on to gorillas."