Jan de Bont (Twister) made his feature film directorial debut in 1994 with a $30 million dollar budget movie called Speed. Starring Keanu Reeves (The Matrix series) as Officer Jack Traven, it details the workings of the LAPD SWAT team when trying to save innocent people from a madman. The movie became a critical and commercial success grossing $350 million and winning two academy awards. Twenty- seven years after Speed debuted in theaters, 20th Century Studios has decided to release it on 4K. Available in stores on May 4, 2021, the new combo pack includes the new 4K UHD disc, the Blu-ray disc, and the Digital HD.
Jack and his partner Harry (Jeff Daniels; Dumb and Dumber) stop an elevator full of people from crashing into the ground and locate the bomber, retired officer Howard Payne (Dennis Hopper; Waterworld), in a nearby freight elevator. When Payne's plan goes wrong, he escapes into a parking garage but is accidentally blown up by his own bomb. Weeks later, Jack watches as a public bus explodes and picks up a ringing payphone only to discover Payne on the other end of the phone, still very much alive. Payne offers Jack a challenge, to find the other bus with the bomb on it before it too explodes.
Speed was the first time (but not the last) Reeves and actress Sandra Bullock (Demolition Man) appeared onscreen together. The two had/have an undeniable chemistry that is evident every time they look at each other. Interestingly, years later the two actors, on separate occasions, both confessed to Ellen DeGeneres that they had a crush on each other while filming Speed. They are joined by a wonderful cast including Daniels, Hopper, and Joe Morton (Terminator 2: Judgement Day). For de Bont, this turned out to be a magical team that helped make the movie somewhat unique.
The action in Speed is unrelenting for the most part, moving from one explosion to another and keeping the viewers entertained throughout the almost two-hour running time. For screenwriter Graham Yost (Broken Arrow), the movie was mainly a success with a few blaring issues. First, there are some incredibly cheesy lines that break the viewer's concentration and makes one want to literally groan out loud. Second, it seems rather ironic and unusual that the two out-of-control modes of transportation that Jack and Annie (Bullock) find themselves on are both subject to "unfinished" construction projects.
The 4K version of Speed has its good points and bad points. The details are sharp, and the clarity of the visuals allows the viewer to see details like never before. Unfortunately, this also means that scenes that were filmed on a sound stage or that incorporated special effects tend to look even more unreal than they did in 1994. The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 is good but not great and the 4K version would have been enhanced even more by a new, Dolby Atmos mix. Sadly, there are no new extras included in the combo pack. The previously released ones, though, include: Audio Commentary, Action Sequences, Inside Speed, Extended Scenes, Trailers, and TV Spots, and Speed Music Video by Billy Idol.
Besides Reeves' and Bullock's fine performances, one thing that Speed has going for it is timelessness. The script, acting, and scenarios stand the test of time, even from almost thirty years ago. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for the sequel three years later, however, Speed is an action-packed, fun-filled adventure that can be enjoyed by people of almost any age.
This is definitely one 4K combo pack that everyone should add to their home video collection.