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A view from the Blu (-ray) on DVDBeaver by Leonard Norwitz

Speed BRD

(Jan de Bont - 1994)





Review by Leonard Norwitz


Studio: 20th Century Fox (USA)



Aspect ratio: 2:35:1

Feature film: 1080p / AVC @ 14 MBPS

116 minutes

Supplements: 1080p/1080i

1 disc: BD-25 single-layer



English DTS HD 5.1 Master Lossless Audio

French Dolby Surround



English and Spanish, CC



• Commentary by Director Jan de Bont

• Commentary by Screenwriter Graham Yost & Producer Mark Gordon

• Trivia Track

Speed: Takedown Game

• Trailer in HD


32 chapters

Standard Blu-ray case.

Release Date: November 14, 2006



Many thrillers of recent decades, from the Bond franchise to Mission Impossible to the Schwarzenegger vehicles, make obvious and extensive use of ersatz science-fiction gadgetry or basic violations of the laws of physics.  Speed sort of sneaks up on you, and you find yourself saying "No way!" a little too often.  If that's your reaction, then Speed is not for you.  On the other hand, if what you're looking for is a nonsensical thrill ride with some very trick stunts, a few explosions, a pretty fair script and some romance without sex, this might be just the ticket. 


I can't help but enjoy a Speed fix every now and then.  Keanu Reeves is engaging and likeable, despite his characteristic huffing and puffing vocalizing.  Perhaps it's the chemistry between him and Sandra Bullock, who manages to make credible one of the cinema's most unbelievable characters.  Speed helped put the careers of these two actors into high gear.  They were both about 30 at the time.  Reeves had done considerably more work on screen by then and was known mostly for juvenilia like Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure (along with some misadventures in Branagh's Much Ado About Nothing  and Little Buddha) .  Bullock had primarily been a second banana.  From Speed she went on to make While You Were Sleeping and A Time To Kill over the following two years, while Reeves went on to make The Devil's Advocate in 1997 and The Matrix two years later.





The Score Card


The Movie : 7

Dennis Hopper is one hell of an expert with explosives.  He feels like his retirement benefits for injuries suffered in the line of duty did not measure up, so it's only natural that he should hold the city for ransom for the amount owed.  His first attempt is foiled by bomb-squad experts Keanu Reeves and Jeff Daniels, so it's only natural he should want a grudge match.  Hopper prepares a crosstown express bus so that once it achieves 50 mph, the bomb is armed and once it falls below 50 the bom will go off.  Hopper, who evidently has never experienced crosstown traffic before, imagines that the bus can remain intact long enough for Reeves to try to disarm it and for the city to come up with his several millions in ransom. 


Considering such a preposterous plot, it's a feat of movie magic that, once we are willing to suspend the considerable amount of disbelief at both concept and execution of Hopper's plan, De Bont moves his characters – the principal and supporting actors as well as the bus – in a way that makes us give a rat's ass about the outcome.  I admit, I did.


Image : 8.5

A convincing image – one that I imagined didn't look any better in the theatre, and was a worthwhile upgrade from its incarnations in SD.  Color was natural and contrast lively, without exaggeration.








Audio & Music : 9

A great audio track to support the visuals, with sufficient crash-bang to satisfy the little boy in all of us.


Empathy : 9

Convincing picture and sound made for a compelling thriller.  I never left the screen.




Operations : 7

The menu functions worked well enough once you figured out the direction to move you remote's arrows. Some players might take a while to load Java.  Lots of chapters to zero in on the moment of your choice.


Extras : 7

Nothing new here as compared to the SD.  We still get the commentaries by director De Bont (which is only so-so) and screenwriter Yost & producer Gordon (which is a gold mine of backstage bits about cast and production.)



Recommendation: 8

It all comes together in a sparkling new BD transfer.  Buy your ticket and make sure you ask for a transfer.

Leonard Norwitz
August 12th, 2007





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