A young LAPD police officer must prevent a bomb from exploding aboard a city bus by keeping its speed above 50 mph. Ralph Potts reviews the Ultra HD Blu-ray debut of Speed from 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment.


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The Review at a Glance:
(max score: 5 )

Film:


Extras:


Audio/UHD Video total rating:
( Max score: 100 )

89



Details:

Studio and Year: 20th Century Fox - 1994
MPAA Rating: R
Feature running time: 116 minutes
Genre: Action/Thriller

Disc Format: BD-66
Encoding: HEVC
Video Aspect: 2.39:1
Resolution: 2160p/24

Audio Format(s): English DTS-HD 5.1 Master audio, Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1, DTS French 5.1
Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish
Starring: Keanu Reeves, Sandra Bullock, Dennis Hopper, Jeff Daniels, Joe Morton
Directed by: Jan De Bont
Music by: Mark Mancina
Written by: Graham Yost
Region Code: A,B,C


Release Date: May 4, 2021


"2525"


Synopsis:

A young LAPD police officer must prevent a bomb from exploding aboard a city bus by keeping its speed above 50 mph. – 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment.

My Take:

Keanu Reeves stars as Jack Traven, an L.A.P.D. SWAT team specialist, who finds himself the target of a revenge-driven extortionist (Dennis Hopper) that has planted a bomb aboard a city bus. Given the details of where the bus is and, strict instructions of what is allowed and not, Traven chases down and enters the bus in an effort to save the day. With everyone’s lives, including Traven’s, hanging in the balance, he, along with one of the passengers (Sandra Bullock) must keep the bus speeding through the streets of Los Angeles at more than 50 miles per hour – or the bomb will explode.

Speed probably needs no introduction among genre fans. I most certainly am a fan and have been since first seeing it back in the day. I have owned it on home video in its various releases and truly looked forward to its Ultra HD Blu-ray debut. The epitome of popcorn entertainment Speed wastes little time in jumping into the fray, quickly setting up its straightforward plot, characters and thematic tone.

I like that and have always enjoyed its quotable moments, embellished action and light romantic interplay. The script isn’t deep and doesn’t need to be although, the finale (starting after the final scene aboard the bus) has always felt sort of disjointed to me. I mean don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind it but, I have always felt like it was tossed in for lack of an idea for a stronger ending.

Anyway, Speed established Keanu Reeves as a viable leading man while putting Sandra Bullock on the map. The members of the supporting cast all play a part in the fun and director Jan De Bont does a good job at maintaining the film’s equilibrium. I would be remiss if I didn’t mention Mark Mancina’s terrific music score as well.

Speed is a personal favorite that I enjoy visiting from time to time and I am thrilled that it was chosen for release on Ultra HD Blu-ray. Read on…



Replay Value:



Parental Guide:

The rating is for violence and language.


AUDIO/VIDEO - By The Numbers:
REFERENCE = 92-100/EXCELLENT = 83-91/GOOD = 74-82/AVERAGE = 65-73/BELOW AVERAGE = under 65

My audio/video ratings are based upon a comparative made against other high definition media/blu-ray disc.


Audio: 86
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)



    • Dynamics:
    • Low frequency effects:
    • Surround Sound presentation:
    • Clarity/Detail:
    • Dialog Reproduction:
    • DSU/DTS Neural:X Rating * (non-rated element): NA


UHD Presentation: 92
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)



    • HDR: Dark Highlights:
    • HDR: Bright Highlights:
    • HDR: Expanded Color:
    • Resolution:
    • Visual Impact:


Speed comes to Ultra HD Blu-ray from 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment featuring 2160pHEVC encoded video and lossless DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio sound.


Speed recently underwent a 4K scan of the original camera negative and this Ultra HD rendering was garnered from that process.

This is a genre film that strives to recreate the look and feel of director Jan De Bont’s vision. Reminiscent of some of the better catalog release offerings that have come to Ultra HD Blu-ray, this rendering represents faithful reproduction bumped to the next level. Speed has never made for a commanding visual experience on home video but, that always seemed sort of a given determined by the cinematography.

I am happy to report that its primary foundation remains fully intact while revealing layers of seemingly new levels of detail, definition, color delineation, and emboldened contrast that elevate its thematic impact. The daytime shots of Los Angeles with its beautiful earth tones and subtle nuance convey the depth of the urban vistas. I was impressed with the sharpness and detail in the sequence outside of the coffee shop where Jack picks up his daily coffee/muffin.

The subtle minutia visible in the clothing and facial features among the members of the cast was appreciable, especially when compared to the Blu-ray. Grain remains perfectly intact, with an even and filmic essence. The color range in the film isn’t broad but, the rendering of both primary and secondary colors proved particularly gratifying and contrastingly vivid. I also found that fleshtones appeared gradational and quite natural.

The addition of high dynamic range added a pleasing visual element that enriched both natural and artificial light. Specular highlights seen in the elevator shaft as well as the various explosions gave the image noticeably visual pop. I also felt that the low-level sequences benefited from the application of HDR which emboldened their blacks and shadow delineation. In addition to the increase in resolution, this made the differences between the 1080p video and this rendering standout.

Hands down, this is the best Speed has looked on home video. Kudos to Fox Home Entertainment. Hopefully we can expect continued support of the Ultra HD releases from their extensive catalog.

20th Century Fox Home Entertainment included only the original DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio soundtrack found on the previous Blu-ray release with this Ultra HD offering. The track does a solid job handling the elements in the recording. The film’s active elements don’t have the feeling of authority and quantifiable dynamics that you find with today’s digital soundtracks but, that is to be expected. The surround mix imparts an appreciable level of depth when called upon. Low frequency effects are palpable but don’t consistently deliver tight bass response that engages the room or senses. Dialogue is crisp and effectively prioritized within the front soundstage.

While I would most definitely have liked to see a remix that included an immersive listening option the end result here is a faithful audio presentation that coincides with the film’s soundtrack and sounds fine.



For those not familiar with the details regarding Ultra HD Blu-ray you can refer to my article that includes some pertinent data on the subject. Here is the link:

Ultra HD Blu-ray Has Come to AVS Forum Blu-ray Reviews


Blu-ray Video:


Video: 90
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)



    • Resolution/Clarity:
    • Black Level/Shadow Detail:
    • Color Reproduction:
    • Fleshtones:
    • Compression:

Speed was fully remastered via a new 4K scan and this 1080p Blu-ray rendering was minted from that process. Comparing it to the 2006 Blu-ray release the image does appear slightly sharper, with improved color rendering, and overall definition. If I had to summarize it, I would say that this is a pleasing video presentation that seems a perfect match for the source material. Primary colors are vivid with eye pleasing vitality and delineated depth. Images are resolute, with stable sharpness, crisp detail and appreciable subtle refinement. Certain scenes appear better resolved than others although I suspect this is related to the photography. Contrast is dynamic without being overpowering and blacks are respectable in depth with discernible detail visible in low lighting and shadows. I didn’t see any signs of video related artifacts and thought that in general video quality was excellent.



Bonus Features:
  • Disc 1: Speed Ultra HD Blu-ray
  • Disc 2: Speed Blu-ray
    “Speed” Bonus Features*
    • Audio Commentary by Jan de Bont
    • Audio Commentary by Graham Yost and Mark Gordon
    • Action Sequences
    o Bus Jump
    o Metrorail Crash
    • Inside Speed
    o On Location
    o Stunts
    o Visual Effects
    o HBO First Look: The Making of Speed
    • Extended Scenes
    o Jack Shoots Payne in the Neck
    o Payne Lives/Cops Party
    o Annie’s Job
    o After Helen’s Death
    o Ray’s Crime
    o Cargo Jet Explosion: The Airline Version
    • Speed Music Video by Billy Idol
  • Digital Code



Final Thoughts:

Speed has justifiably etched its place in the hearts of genre fans and is simply popcorn entertainment at its best. It arrives on Ultra HD Blu-ray in this Ultimate Collector’s Edition Combo Pack from Fox Home Entertainment featuring newly restored and faithful video quality that finds it looking its finest on home video. This offering replaces the previous Blu-ray release and comes highly recommended.







Ralph Potts
AVS Forum Blu-ray Reviews

Reference Review System:

JVC DLA-RS2000 4K Ultra High Definition Front Projector
(Calibrated with Calman color calibration software and Portrait Displays C6 HDR2000 colorimeter from Portrait.com)
Stewart Filmscreen - Studiotek 130 G3 100” 16x9 Screen
Carada Masquerade Electronic Horizontal Masking System
Marantz AV7706 Audio/Video Processor
Emotiva XPA-7 Gen 3 Seven Channel Amplifier
Emotiva XPA-11 Gen 3 Amplifier
Panasonic DP-UB820 Ultra HD Blu-ray Player
Oppo BDP-203 Ultra HD Blu-ray Player
System Controller: Apple iPad/Roomie Remote V6 Universal Remote Control
SVS Ultra Tower Speakers (Gloss Finish)
SVS Ultra Center Channel (Gloss Finish)
SVS Ultra Surrounds (Gloss Finish in Bipolar Configuration)
Dual SVS PC4000 Cylinder Subwoofers
Niles Audio In-Ceiling/In-Wall Series Speakers
Panamax M5400-PM Power Conditioner/Surge Protector
Wireworld, Better Cables (Silver Serpent) - Audio/Video/Speaker Cabling
AC Infinity Aircom T8 Component Cooling Systems