Speed appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. An early Blu-ray, the image held up reasonably well but still could show its age.
Sharpness became a minor casualty. Although most of the movie seemed fairly well-defined, soft spot occasionally materialized.
Light edge haloes made these more prominent. Still, the film usually brought positive delineation.
Jagged edges and moiré effects created no concerns. Some grain appeared, though it often felt more like noise. Print flaws remained minimal.
Speed featured a naturalistic palette, and the disc presented these hues accurately. The colors remained clear throughout the film, and they usually seemed nicely full, even if they leaned a little heavy at times.
Black levels also appeared deep and dense, while shadow detail was appropriately heavy but not overly thick. Again, for a circa 2006 Blu-ray, this one worked pretty well, but it still seemed dated by 2022 standards.
I 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 generally strong but not consistently terrific. Speech appeared crisp and distinct, and I noticed no problems due to edginess or intelligibility.
Music was clear and bright, but the score didn’t show great depth. Not that the music lacked any bass, but I felt those portions needed stronger punch to work as well as they should.
Effects came across as clean and accurate, and they provided a stronger low-end presence. My criticisms of the Speed soundtracks remained minor, as the film usually provided very positive audio.
How did this Blu-ray compare to those of the Special Edition DVD? Audio seemed fairly similar, though the DTS-HD track was a bit better. It boasted stronger bass response for effects, though both suffered from somewhat thin music.
Visuals showed the standard improvements. The DVD looked pretty good for its format, but the Blu-ray offered greater definition and clarity. All those factors made it a step up in quality, albeit one held back due to the 2006 vintage Blu-ray’s issues.
The Blu-ray includes only a few of the extras from the SE DVD, and we open with 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. 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.
Under Trailers, we get the promo for Speed. We also find ads for Behind Enemy Lines, League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Phone Booth, Planet of the Apes (2001) and The Transporter.
Two Blu-ray exclusives appear. A trivia track accompanies the movie and tells us about the film’s origins, various stunts and effects, cast and crew, realism and research, sets and locations, and a few other production elements.
The “Trivia Track” throws out some decent info, but the material appears infrequently and doesn’t add a ton.
Speed: Take Down Game allows two options. Play as “Jack Traven” and disarm as many bombs as you can, or play as “Howard Payne” and blow up as many as you can. Both games simply require you to move the cursor around the screen and hit “enter” a whole lot, and this never becomes fun.
What does the Blu-ray omit from the SE DVD? Lots and lots – so much that I won’t even bother to list it all here. Just go back to the DVD review to see what goes missing here.
Why does the Blu-ray drop all those extras? I don’t know. The Blu-ray did come out during the format’s early days, so perhaps Fox worried that the supplements would eat up too much space. Their absence disappoints, though.
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 Blu-ray offers very good sound along with erratic picture and a few supplements highlighted by two good commentaries. Between the loss of so many bonus materials and the inconsistent visuals, this release shows its age.
To rate this film, visit the DVD review of SPEED