Former cinematographer Jan De Bont made his directing debut with this 1994 action film and although he was only moderately successful with recent efforts, "Speed" will likely stand out as an action classic. I'm sure that the pitch meetings for this picture must have been interesting - "there's this bus...and there's a bomb on the bus...and most of the movie takes place on the bus." A premise that's deceptively simple, but the movie runs with it. If the bus of the picture goes below 50 mph, then it explodes. The bus is on the freeway, but it's rush hour, it leaves the freeway, but can't make its way through traffic. The movie just keeps throwing obstacles in the way, and some are phenomenal.
Keanu Reeves stars as Jack Traven, an LAPD cop who foiled the plot of a mad bomber (Dennis Hopper) once before. Now the bomber wants revenge, and Jack soon finds himself on the bus, trying to save those onboard, including himself. When the bus driver is shot, a young woman (Sandra Bullock) is able to take the wheel. I think it's rare that a movie like this comes along, where there literally isn't a moment that stops to breathe. Renny Harlin attempted it with "Deep Blue Sea", but it isn't as successful as "Speed".
The performances are excellent all-around as well; the movie gave a jump-start to the careers of both Reeves and Sandra Bullock, the later unfortunately choosing to come back for the film's sequel. Jeff Daniels is also quite good as the bomb squad expert who is helping Jack by phone from the police station. And of course, Dennis Hopper creates the perfect villian in a great performance.
It's always been my opinion that the ending of the bus sequence was enough to end the picture and that the subway scene was a little too much, but all in all, it works. Chemistry between Reeves and Bullock is excellent, and the movie keeps the tension building. Definitely a classic in the action genre.
This is by no means a perfect transfer, but going into it, I didn't expect much from an early title from Fox. I was rather suprised by the general level of quality, and the flaws, although noticable, aren't distracting. Images are not always impressively sharp, but are certainly adequate, revealing good detail throughout. Colors are very vibrant, with the shots out in the daylight once the bus gets going having almost eye-popping colors with no bleeding at all. Black level is excellent, and flesh tones remain accurate and natural throughout the movie.
There are some flaws, but they're pretty minor. There is some pixelation in a scene or two, but it's very minor. A few instances of slight shimmering as well, but thankfully, the print used is in absolutely excellent condition, with not a mark to be found.
SOUND: Director Jan De Bont has always put together solid audio for all of his movies, especially the recent flop "The Haunting". "Speed" is certainly no exception, with incredibly active surrounds that detail every sound of the chaos during the bus ride, and do some especially nice work during the scenes at the airport as the bus circles the runway. Explosions are certainly part of the movie as well, and they carry some solid impact. Mark Mancina's electric, energetic score (which I think is a big part of why the movie works, as well) sounds extremely well-recorded and fills the room nicely. Dialogue is clear and is never overshadowed by all that's going on.
MENUS:: One of the first Fox menus and as such, there's not too much to be expected from the design, which features the basic options and a few pictures from the movie in the background.
EXTRAS:: The trailer.
Final Thoughts: Not that bad in terms of quality, but certainly a disc that Fox should re-release as a special edition.
The Film 95/A = (475/500 possible points)
Video 88/B = (352/400 possible points)
Audio: 94/A = (376/400 possible points)
Extras: 70/C- = (210/300 possible points)
Menus 70/C- = (140/200 possible points)
Value: 80/B- = (240/300 possible points)