Speed appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this 4K UHD Disc. Despite some limitations of the source, this became an appealing presentation.
Sharpness appeared pretty crisp and detailed throughout the movie. A few shots looked a little soft and smeared, but those weren’t frequent issues. Instead, the majority of the flick appeared concise.
Jagged edges and moiré effects created no concerns, and edge haloes were absent. No print flaws marred the presentation. A little grain management seemed to pop up along the way – mainly during interiors – but this didn’t seem heavy-handed.
Speed featured a naturalistic palette, and the disc presented these hues accurately. The colors remained clear throughout the film, and they always seemed nicely full. HDR added emphasis to these tones.
Black levels also appeared deep and dense, while shadow detail was appropriately heavy but not overly thick. HDR gave whites and contrast extra oomph. Really, I found little about which to complain here.
I also felt pleased with the DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack of Speed, as the film showed a very active and involving soundfield at all times. From the opening elevator sequence to the bus shenanigans to the climactic scenes, Speed used all five channels to great effect.
The music showed solid stereo presence, and effects cropped up from all around the spectrum. Elements seemed appropriately placed, and they integrated well.
Sounds moved cleanly from one speaker to another and each channel boasted a lot of unique audio. In regard to the soundfield, this was a top-notch mix.
Audio quality was strong as well. Speech appeared crisp and distinct, and I noticed no problems due to edginess or intelligibility.
Music was clear and bright, and the score brought good range. Effects came across as clean and accurate, and they provided a strong low-end presence. Even after 28 years, this felt like a high-quality track.
How did the 4K UHD compare to the Blu-ray version? Though I expected identical mixes, I felt the 4K’s 5.1 appeared a little more robust than the prior track in terms of music. This wasn’t a big jump, but it seemed just a smidgen broader.
Visuals became a more obvious step up, as the 4K offered obviously superior delineation, colors and blacks. The 4K replaced a Blu-ray from that format’s early years, and it easily trounced that release.
Note that a 2014 “20th Anniversary” Blu-ray exists. However, it simply reissued the identical disc from 2006.
Also note that the 4K package includes a new Blu-ray version of Speed, one that appears to come from the same master as the 4K. However, as of March 2022, this updated Blu-ray only exists as part of the 4K release and cannot be purchased on its own.
On the 4K disc, we find a pair of audio commentaries. The first comes from director Jan de Bont, who offers a running, screen-specific track. I’d heard de Bont’s discussion of Twister and thought it seemed decent but unexceptional.
His chat about Speed appears somewhat more engaging. I can’t call it a terrific commentary, but it works pretty well.
During Twister, visual effects supervisor Stefen Fangmeier accompanied de Bont, so the track took a pretty technical bent. Even on his own, de Bont still stays with a lot of nuts and bolts aspects of Speed, but these don’t dominate as heavily as they did during the Twister piece. He offers a good general discussion of the film that seems a little dry at times, but de Bont nonetheless provides a reasonable amount of useful and interesting information.
Even more satisfying is the second commentary from producer Mark Gordon and writer Graham Yost. Both were recorded together for this running, screen-specific piece, and from start to finish, this track is a blast.
Gordon and Yost clearly know each other well, and their dynamic seems fun from minute one. They provide a lot of great information about the movie; from its genesis to casting possibilities to changes made along the way to challenges experienced during the shoot, they contribute scads of useful material.
In addition, Gordon and Yost show a terrifically irreverent tone toward the movie itself. They demonstrate a sense of affection for the flick but they still poke lots of fun at it – and many holes in it.
They appear more than happy to point out all the plot flaws and scenes that lack logic, and they also provide appropriate criticism of their work. Many amusing moments result, such as their on-going debate about how many people die in the film. Overall, this is an excellent commentary that I really enjoyed.
The remaining extras appear on the included Blu-ray copy, and two short featurettes appear under Action Sequences. Here we find “Bus Jump” (9:38) and “Metrorail Crash” (6:18).
“Bus Jump” covers the creation of Speed’s most famous sequence, and it involves stunt coordinator Gary Hymes, director Jan de Bont, executive producer Ian Bryce, stuntman Jophery Brown, and producer Mark Gordon.
The program provides a nice examination of the work that went into this stunt and shows its completion in a fairly thorough manner. Amusingly, the featurette demonstrates just how ludicrous the film’s jump really is.
“Metrorail Crash” covers the subway scenes in general. We hear from stuntman Brian Smrz, de Bont, Hymes, and Bryce along with some great behind the scenes shots. I especially enjoyed the rough footage of the fight sequence on top of the train.
Four elements appear under “Inside Speed”. On Location spans seven minutes, 21 second with info from producer Gordon, executive producer Bryce, director de Bont, and actors Reeves, Daniels, Bullock, and Hopper.
This featurette mainly concentrates on some light technical details about the stunt buses and the camerawork as well as the freeway shoot. This show seems somewhat superficial, but the behind the scenes shots remain very useful, especially since these include the actors.
The focus of Stunts should be pretty obvious. The 12-minute, nine-second featurette brings interviews with de Bont, Bryce, Hymes, Daniels, and stuntman Brown, though Hymes dominates the program.
The piece covers the general use of stuntmen and what the actors did rather than concentrate on specific stunts. The bits that show what Reeves did seem most interesting, but the piece as a whole is entertaining.
Another featurette with a self-explanatory title, Visual Effects offers a nine-minute, 14-second examination of that area. We hear from visual effects supervisor Boyd Shermis, computer graphics supervisor Ron Brinkman, and engineer Jack Sessums.
A generally compelling program, a couple of elements appear most interesting. I like Shermis’ discussion of why he used Vista Vision for green screen composite shots, and I also think the matte painting composite seguences are good.
Finally, HBO First Look: The Making of Speed runs 24 minutes, 13 seconds and provides the usual glossy program. Hosted by Dennis Hopper, the show involves notes from actors Bullock, Reeves, Daniels, and Hopper, producer Gordon, director de Bont, technical advisor Randy Walker, executive producer Bryce, stunt coordinator Hymes, visual effects supervisor Shermis, engineer Sessums, stuntmen Smrz and Brown, and computer graphics supervisor Brinkman.
Although the piece includes a few good behind the scenes snippets, it remains fluffy and promotional as a whole. We find much of its information elsewhere, as the subway crash and bus jump are explored more thoroughly on other parts of the disc. Speed buffs may want to give it a look for some of the candid bits, but otherwise it’s not very useful.
Extended Scenes includes six segments and spans a total of 12 minutes, seven seconds of material. The vast majority of that running provides shots from the final film to set up the unused material, so the actual new footage fills little of the space and seems like minor alterations.
Most significant is an extension to the cop party at the bar, where we get a little more character information about Jack and Harry. Most entertaining is a very short addition to the chat between Helen and Annie, as the latter gets some funny lines that should have stayed in the film.
Note that while this Blu-ray includes six scenes vs. the five on the DVD, we don’t find anything new. Instead, this disc’s “Airline Version” of “Cargo Jet Explosion” appeared as an Easter egg on the old release. Spoiler alert: it leaves out the detonation of an actual plane.
In addition to one trailer and 10 TV spots, we finish with a music video for “Speed” by Billy Idol. The terrible song makes for a bland video, as it offers the standard mix of lip-synched performance with shots from the movie.
Note that while the 2006 Blu-ray dropped plenty of extras from the original two-disc DVD, and many – but not all – of those come back here. The 2021 Blu-ray still lacks some multi-angle and text materials as well as archival interviews.
The 2006 Blu-ray added some new elements, primarily in the form of a text commentary and a game. The latter stunk, but the trivia track should’ve returned for this disc.
28 years after its release, Speed remains a terrific thrill ride. It may not be the absolute best of its genre, but it’s quite close to the top, and it provides a fun and exciting experience. The 4K UHD offers very good picture and sound along with a pretty appealing set of supplements. This turns into the best Speed on the market.
To rate this film, visit the DVD review of SPEED