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  • Widescreen 2.35:1
  • 16:9 Enhanced
  • Dual Layer (RSDL 76:17)
  • English: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
  • English: DTS 5.1 Surround
    Hebrew, Czech, Polish, Hungarian, Dutch, Portuguese, English - Hearing Impaired, Turkish, Icelandic, Croatian, Danish, Swedish, Norwegian, Finnish
  • Deleted scenes
  • Theatrical trailer
  • 2 Audio commentary - 1. Director 2.Producer and Screenwriter
  • Featurette - Numerous
  • Production notes
  • Photo gallery - Extensive
  • Animated menus
  • Music video - Billy Idol: 'Speed'
  • TV spot - Eleven
  • Interviews
  • Awards/Nominations
  • Storyboards
  • Multiple angle
  • Original screenplay

Speed: Special Edition

20th Century Fox/20th Century Fox . R4 . COLOR . 111 mins . M15+ . PAL


Released back in 1994 (it doesn't seem that long ago), Speed is a combination of everything that's required in an action film. There are great stunts, tension, crashes, explosions, guns, and as the title suggests, vehicles moving at great pace, the most memorable being the bus that is the setting for most of Speed.

Jack Traven (Keanu Reeves) is a typically gung-ho, movie-variety LAPD officer. His faithful partner is Harry Temple (Jeff Daniels), wiser and less gung-ho than Traven. We are introduced to the dynamic duo shortly after an explosion in an elevator shaft of a large Los Angeles skyscraper. A 'mad bomber', Howard Payne (Dennis Hopper), has placed several explosive charges so that the elevator becomes delicately poised some 30 floors up, and unless his demands for cash are met on time, he'll blow what's left of the braking mechanism and the folks in the elevator will plummet to a rather messy end. Of course, our gung-ho hero and his wiser side-kick save the day - just. The 'mad bomber', in his rush to get out of the place, blows himself up, and our heroes receive shiny medals. “Surely that's not it?" I hear you ask, and of course, it isn't.

Jack settles back into his normal routine when the not-so-dead-after-all bomber strikes back, and he is not a happy ‘mad bomber’. He is displeased that his plans to get rich from the elevator stunt didn't eventuate, thanks to Jack and Harry. To atone, he has rigged a bomb on a downtown LA bus in such a way that the moment it hits 50 MPH it arms itself. The moment the bus drops below 50 MPH - boom! If anyone attempts to get off the bus - boom! Good ol' Jack chases and boards the bus and inadvertently spooks a petty crim who thinks Jack is there to arrest him. In the short scuffle that follows, the bus driver is shot and the cutest girl on the bus, Annie (Sandra Bullock), jumps into the driver's seat. From this point on, it's one drama after another, and the tension builds for passengers and audience alike. The bus, and all on board, are headed for a very loud and explosive end, and it seems only Jack can save them.

Keanu Reeves was already a star by the time Speed was released, but it lifted his popularity to new heights, exceeded only by The Matrix. His commitment to the role is evident from the buffed body that he worked up for the film. It's a shame that his acting isn't always as believable. Sandra Bullock's career also received a jump start from Speed. Dennis Hopper does a great job as the 'mad bomber', menacing, crazy, and employing nasty humour to add to the evilness. At $28 million to make it classifies as a low-budget film, but it certainly recouped that a few times over. Speed is a good film from a technical perspective also. The editing, the camera angles, the constant thrills, and close up camera action increase the tension significantly. First time director Jan De Bont certainly made a successful transition from cinematographer to director.

Speed is a great film if you can forgive the sometimes average acting, the improbable hurdles placed in their path, the even more improbable solutions, and the rather large gaps in credibility and continuity. If you are the kind of viewer that gets agitated by a film's ability to ignore the laws of physics, and even make up a few of its own, then Speed is not for you. If you can overlook these issues, and join in the fun of the whole thing, then prepare yourself for one of those 'thrill-a-minute' films that Hollywood throws out every now and then. It's such a shame that Speed 2: Cruise Control had to go and mess the whole thing up. Even Keanu Reeves could see that it was going to be a stinker and politely passed up the chance to do it all again. Director Jan De Bont (writer of Speed 2: Cruise Control) and Sandra Bullock, sadly, didn't have that same good sense, and if you want to know what happened next, check out Speed 2: Cruise Control - but don't say you weren't warned.


The transfer is presented in an aspect ratio of 2.35:1 and is 16x9 enhanced. This transfer seems even finer than the original DVD release. The only noticeable film artefacts are occasional white flecks, but in a film such as this, with so much on-screen action, they are hard to spot. The overall image is very sharp and detailed. Shadow detail suffers a little in some of the darker scenes such as the elevator shaft, and the outdoor action scenes fare better.

Colours are wonderfully accurate with no evidence of bleeding or noise. Blacks are deep and again free from noise. Some aliasing is evident, noticeable mainly in the final scenes of the train crash. There is also some minor grain evident in the outdoor shots, but again, you would need to be looking very closely to really notice. Action films such as Speed do not let you dwell on such minor issues.

The layer change is very well placed at 76:17 and is almost impossible to detect.


There are two audio tracks to choose from and both do a very creditable job. The Dolby Digital 5.1 mix is typical of most such transfers. The depth of sound and separation are good. The surrounds and subwoofer are heavily utilised for ambient sounds and explosions respectively. Dialogue is crisp and clear even during the montage of sounds such as cars, guns, helicopters, crowd noise, and the roaring of the bus.

If there was ever a case for arguing the superiority of DTS, then this Special Edition of Speed is it. Take everything in the above paragraph and double it. The ambient sounds are very spacious, cleverly placed and impressive. The deep and constant rumbling from the subwoofer is a joy, especially in the numerous explosion scenes. The clarity and crispness is wonderful. Dialogue comes through loud and clear, predominantly from the centre. An audio transfer as loud and dynamic as this adds to the tension immensely.

The soundtrack is similarly brilliant, and sounds warm even in the subtle moments. The music score provided by Mark Mancina is perfect and is suitably dramatic and exhilarating.


This is one of the most extras-laden releases I have seen and is added incentive to buy Speed: Special Edition. There are two Audio Commentaries provided, one from director Jan de Bont, the other from producer Mark Gordon and screenwriter Graham Yost. De Bont's commentary is very honest and descriptive, not shying away from the obvious inconsistencies in the film and his attempts to overcome them with clever editing and lighting. The second commentary is a great deal of fun, with a rather humorous and even more honest approach to the making of Speed. They are both obviously proud of the film, whilst acknowledging its shortfalls and inaccuracies.

Disc two contains the remainder of the extras, in various categories. The first, Action: Sequences, are all full frame and Dolby Digital 2.0. Bus Jump, (9:17) takes an in-depth look at the freeway jump stunt, from the planning to the execution. It also covers such topics as safety concerns and camera angles. Metro Rail Crash (6:05) is similar, focusing on the final crash scene and giving a good insight into the use of miniatures and the way these are edited with 'real' footage to create convincing scenes. Storyboard Comparisons takes a little over ten minutes and is in multi-angle format, allowing just a storyboard presentation of four scenes (one unused) with the option of splitting the screen to compare the storyboard with the final footage. Multi-angle Stunts as the name suggests, shows a series of stunts as filmed by up to eight cameras. There is the option to watch any of these eight cameras in isolation, or split-screen mode showing all angles at once.

Inside Speed serves up a little treasure trove of treats, again all full framed (with movie footage inserted at 2.35:1) in Dolby Digital 2.0. On Location (7:04) covers the logistics of filming in Los Angeles and the timely availability of almost completed freeway and airport extensions. Stunts (11.39), as the name suggests, is an insight into the filming of stunts, the stuntmen and actors who perform them, and the safety concerns. Visual Effects (8.52) allows the special effects guys to explain what they do and how they do it. Original Screenplay is screen after screen of screenplay, but not the original, as there are some variations made by the director. Production Design Notes and Images is another read-along feature, and discusses the production side of filming with diagrams and stills inserted that demonstrate what the text is explaining. Interview Archive has interviews from Keanu Reeves (5.43), Sandra Bullock (9.08), Jeff Daniels (6.35), Dennis Hopper (4.33), and Jan de Bont (4.14).

Extended Scenes includes a 'Play All' option lasting around ten minutes, or they can be watched individually. All are 2.35:1 and 16x9 enhanced, in Dolby Digital 2.0. None are particularly interesting or revealing.

The Image Gallery is a very extensive collection of stills separated into 18 'galleries'. Typically, there are stills from the movie, promotional shots, and many 'behind-the-scenes' shots.

Promotion gathers TV spots and the theatrical trailers used to promote Speed. The Theatrical Trailer (2.41) is very effective and dramatic, in an aspect ratio of 2.35:1 and Dolby Digital 2.0. There are 11 TV Spots presented chronologically, all full frame and Dolby Digital 2.0. They are available to view in succession, or individually. The one and only (thankfully) Billy Idol makes an appearance in his music video for the title track. It's quite a rockin' little song, but typically Billy Idol, and runs for 4:23 in full frame and Dolby Digital 2.0. The longest running feature can be found here and is an HBO Making of Speed special, hosted by Dennis Hopper. Full frame and Dolby Digital 2.0, it includes snippets of the interviews found elsewhere on the disc, interspersed with movie and more 'behind-the-scenes' footage. The last feature is Press Kit, which is 19 pages of various bits of information designed to whip up media interest.

Lastly, there is an obligatory Easter Egg. It is a scene that was edited for use on airlines. Once you've seen the film, you will know why they edited it. It can be found on Disc 2 and is easy to locate. If not, see our Easter Egg page.


Phew, what a DVD! The movie itself is a classic of the action genre, and is beautifully suited to DVD. It combines all the best elements of an action film with clever editing, direction and production. The big-name cast do a fine job, and there are enough heart-stopping stunts to keep even the most demanding viewer happy. The action begins early and never lets up. Throw in a pile of extras as good as this, and no one goes home disappointed. The video and audio presentation are quite superb, especially the DTS audio track. If only the sequel was a tenth as good, there would be reason for complete celebration.

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  •  DVD NET Gold Review List 
      And I quote...
    "Pop quiz. Speed has been re-released as a Special Edition with heaps of extras and a killer DTS audio track. What do you do? What do you do? "
    - Terry Kemp
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