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Reviewed July 29th, 2002 by Dan Jones


I have to believe that if you are reading this review you have already seen the movie Speed at one point in your life. Nevertheless, for those that have not, here is a quick run down of the plot. The film starts with Jack Traven (played by Keanu Reeves) and Harry Temple (played by Jeff Daniels) attempting to disarm a bomb that has been rigged up to an elevator by Dennis Hopper’s character, Howard Payne. After the duo successfully disarm the bomb and free the hostages held inside, Payne decides to give Traven a more difficult situation: placing a bomb on a city bus, which engages when the bus exceeds 50 mph and detonates if the bus drops below 50 or any passengers escape. Unfortunately for Traven, he cannot reach the bus before it exceeds this designated speed (get it?), now making his job to try to disengage the bomb while trying to keep the bus moving at over 50 mph.

Added to that, the bus driver is quickly killed due to a mishap between the passengers on the bus, so Traven needs a new driver; enter Sandra Bullocks character, Annie Porter.

What happens next is sheer entertainment value. There is rarely a slow moment in Speed, making it a great popcorn flick. Sure some of the physics involved in the film (take the bus jumping an opening in a bridge) might be a bit, how do you say, impossible, yet the film’s unrealistic elements never detract from the film itself (unlike its successor, Speed 2).

Due to Speed being quite a popular film, as well as having quite a bad initial DVD release, it was time for Fox to re-release it in a special edition; moreover, to their Five Star Collection.

Video wise, Speed has been given a new 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer (THX certified at that) which is leaps and bounds ahead of its barebones predecessor. This transfer has very little flaws, besides slight haloing due to probably excessive edge enhancement. However, that is about all to be complained about. Detail is very good with good color quality; the picture has little in the way of source problems. Overall, a great transfer, MUCH better then the original release.

Audio wise, we have two shiny new 5.1 mixes in Dolby Digital and DTS. Both these tracks are highly aggressive and directional with nice bass emphasis in the dedicated LFE. If I had to decide between the mixes, I would give the nod to the DTS track for having slightly increased detail and a bit more punch on the low end. Both tracks will satisfy though. While this is not a mix up to some of the recent action films like Fast and the Furious, this is quite a nice and powerful mix for a film that really requires it. Fox has also supplied in a French 2.0 mix.

So many extras...

Starting the supplement party off we have two audio commentaries. The first is from director Jan De Bont and is quite technical in nature, how shots were made, etc... The second is from Speed producer Mark Gordon and the film’s screenwriter, Graham Yost and is quite fun to listen to. These two have no problems pointing out some of the film’s flaws (like the aforementioned bus defying the laws of physics problem) and filming snafus (cameras that can be seen, etc...). They also delve into pre-production, casting, etc... Overall, these are two great commentaries that are never redundant between each other.

Discs two holds the rest of the supplements.

First up, we have a feature on a couple of the film’s more spectacular stunts, namely the bus jump and the Metrorail crash. This feature delves into how in the hell these stunts were done, and is quite an interesting watch.

Next, we have some multi-angle features, namely Multi-Angle Storyboards and Multi-Angle stunts. These provide just what the title implies; storyboards dealing with storyboard versus final shot comparison and the stunts section dealing with a number of the films stunts from, you guessed it, multiple angles. The stunts section is definitely worth a watch; lots of cameras firing.

Inside: Speed gives us a handful of behind the scenes featurettes, namely “On Location”, “Stunts”, “Visual Effects”, “Original Screenplay” (QUITE lengthy) and “Production Design.” These are all fairly self-explanatory, the first three running about 10 minutes, the last two being a little more in-depth.

Next, we have Interview: Archive, which gives us quite a bit of interview footage with the cast and crew, namely Keanu Reeves, Sandra Bullock, Jeff Daniels, Dennis Hopper, and director Jan de Bont. Lots of character and plot information is given here, so if you have not seen the film, do not watch it.

Next, we have a handful of extended scenes. There is really no question as to why these scenes were trimmed; it would have hurt the pacing of an otherwise quick action flick. None of these are all too interesting, but worth a watch if for nothing more then to spend more time with the characters.

Next, we have a rather large image gallery, giving us just that, images. Rounding it out we have a promotional section with the films theatrical trailer, TV spots, press kit and production notes, the HBO documentary (somewhat promotional in nature like most HBO documentaries) and Billy Idol’s “Speed” music video. Oh, and of course we have the standard THX optimizer.

Overall, Speed is a classic action film with start to stop excitement, a great popcorn flick to be sure. Fox’s first DVD release was quite limited in just about every way imaginable so this is a welcome release. With great video and audio as well as a TON of extras (the two commentaries being probably the best of the extras), this is an easy recommendation; if you have the original release, perhaps sell it for $3 or so and upgrade. Either way, get it.


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