Speed – 4K Ultra HD Digital Review

Speed

 Pop quiz hotshot. Good action movies are a dime a dozen, but did you know that the appearance of a great action film is rare in Hollywood? Jan de Bont’s Speed belongs in that great action film category. It’s the most action-packed and thrilling film to come out since the original Die Hard. Like John McTiernan’s classic actioner, Speed set a new standard for creative action films confined to a single location, or in this case, a vehicle. Maybe that’s why Speed is sometimes fondly known as “Die Hard on a Bus.” 

The premise is simple: A terrorist attaches a bomb to a bus. If the bus goes below 50 MPH, then the bomb blows up. Most films with this silly concept would crumble during its near two hours runtime. However, Speed embraces its crazed concept while keeping the stakes high. Screenwriter Graham Yost conveniently places the bus in dicey situations. 

The bus constantly makes wide, sharp turns, survives multiple collisions and jumps a gap 50 feet wide. Not to mention, it rolls with a flat tire the precise moment where the tires fall apart to add dramatic tension. So why do we accept the absurdity? Because the film is just so much fun. It never seems to crumble under its own silliness.

A lot of that has to do with its pitch-perfect cast. Sandra Bullock is effortlessly fun as the spunky Annie, and Jeff Daniels is fantastic as Keanu’s partner, Harry. Yet the film belongs to both Keanu Reeves and Dennis Hopper. Reeves and Hopper delight as their cat-and-mouse chase progresses through the film. 

Speed is far from a perfect film, but with a film as energetically fun and entertaining as this, you forgive its shortcomings. Few ’90s action hits are as enjoyable today, and that’s why Speed is a delightful classic to this very day.

Movie Rating: 4.5/5 atoms

Speed - Keanu Reeves

Video

Speed hits Ultra HD Digital with a HDR10/Dolby Vision transfer and a 2.39:1 aspect ratio. The white levels are a vivid white, especially the whole elevator sequence at the beginning of the film. The film doesn’t have a lot of dark scenes that showcase the black levels of the film. However, the shadows are an inky black that doesn’t have any crush whatsoever. The color palette for Speed may not be vibrant, but there is an accurate, bold saturation to the colors. The bold saturation is especially true in scenes involving bomb explosions. The fiery red and orange emanate off the screen. Also, for a 27-year-old film, the picture is surprisingly crisp. The film has a consistent yet noticeable film grain texture throughout. Overall, the video looks fantastic all-around.

Video Rating: 5/5 atoms

Speed - Keanu Reeves and Sandra Bullock

Audio

Speed hits Ultra HD Digital with a 5.1 Dolby Digital audio track. The sound effects are as wild and action-packed as the film itself. The audio mix places sound effects in creative ways where differing effects layer to create a dynamic and immersive experience. The atmospheric effects are frequent and add to the stellar immersive mix of this release. As for Mark Mancina’s sweeping and intense score, it sounds dynamic and distinct throughout. Thankfully, despite all of the chaos of the film, the dialogue is still audible. Even though this isn’t a Dolby Atmos mix, this is still a hell of an audio mix.

Audio Rating: 5/5 atoms

Speed - Keanu Reeves and Sandra Bullock

Special Features

Speed‘s Ultra HD Digital release has the following special features on it:

  • Audio Commentary by Jan de Bont
  • Audio Commentary by Graham Yost and Mark Gordon
  • Action Sequences
    • Bus Jump
    • Metrorail Crash
  • Inside Speed
    • On Location
    • Stunts
    • Visual Effects
    • HBO First Look: The Making of Speed
  • Extended Scenes
    • Jack Shoots Payne in the Neck
    • Payne Lives/Cops Party
    • Annie’s Job
    • After Helen’s Death
    • Ray’s Crime
    • Cargo Jet Explosion: The Airline Version
  • Speed Music Video by Billy Idol

The Ultra HD release doesn’t come with any new special features. Much like the prior Blu-ray releases, the bonus features in this release come from the 2-disc DVD. As you can imagine, the audio commentary with de Bont contains explanations about his filmmaking techniques and casting choices. The audio narration by Yost and Gordon features a lot of information about the production decisions and history of the film. Yost and Gordon also reveal a lot of trivia about the film, such as Harry is the main villain and that the Sandra Bullock character was supposed to be a driver’s ed teacher played by Ellen DeGeneres. Not to mention, they’re honest in their criticism of the film. There are several times where they would say a scene would be cheesy or ridiculous.

“Inside Speed” is a series of extensive and in-depth behind-the-scenes featurettes into the making of the film. You will learn a lot about the filmmaking process, so it’s worth a watch. “Action Sequences” could be labeled as an extension of Inside Speed. They are in-depth features that cover the two biggest stunts in the movie: The bus jump and the Metrorail crash. It looks at the work and logistics of creating these dangerous and complicated shots. The extended scenes shed more backstory on certain supporting characters. These are skippable if you don’t care about the side characters. 

Special Features Rating: 3.5/5 atoms


Overall, the action, the quotable dialogue, and the unforgettable characters are one of the main reasons why Speed remains a classic. The 4K presentation for Speed is also excellent, and at the same time, the audio mix equally matches the kind of action and energy of the film. Despite the lack of brand new bonus features, the legacy features are still informative. 

Overall Rating: 4.5/5 atoms

Speed is now available to own on digital.

This digital copy was reviewed using a retail/advance copy/unit provided by Walt Disney Home Entertainment.

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Mark Pacis
Mark Pacis 1669 posts

Self-proclaimed "Human IMDb" and comic book geek. Biggest Iron Man fan you'll probably ever meet.

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