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Speed – 4K UHD Blu-ray Review

Speed 4K

Some 27 years after it’s release, one might be forgiven for forgetting what a game changer Jan de Bont’s Speed was. No scratch that, you should remember! Back in the early 90s, the big muscles, full testosterone action picks from Sly, Arnie, Segal, Van Damme and the like were started their ebb into box office atrophy. People had had their fill of such fair. Hollywood was also tired of every new script riffing (or ripping off) Die Hard, which was why Speed went through a protracted development and two studios before Fox green lit it. Keanu Reeves had done Point Break a couple a years before, but wasn’t, at the time, the go to action hero he would become. And Sandra Bullock wasn’t an A-lister at the time. That all changed in 1994.

"a sharply written script, with effective and engaging pacing, a solid protagonist and equally solid adversary"


L.A.P.D bomb squad members Jack Traven (Reeves) and Harry Temple (Jeff Daniels) thwart a madman (Dennis Hopper) from extorting money from the city by blowing up an elevator full of innocent people. Jack ends up taking the madman down by shooting Harry in the leg after he’s taken hostage. The madman seemingly blows himself up and Jack and Harry are given medals. All ends well. Except the madman, Howard Payne, ain’t deceased at all, and he’s set a new life and death challenge for Jack and the city to gain some retirement capital: he’s set a bomb on a city bus. Once that bus goes above 55 miles an hour, the bomb is armed. If the bus slows below 55, it’ll explode, and if anyone tries to get off the bus: BOOM! Of course Jack boards the bus, post it reaching said speed, in spectacular fashion on the freeway. A passenger on the bus thinks Jack is there for him, and in the struggle to subdue him, the bus driver is shot. Enter Annie (Sandra Bullock) who takes the wheel and—along with everyone other passenger—quickly learns of their predicament. So Jack and Annie and a bus full of innocent people race down a freeway followed by news helicopters with a dying bus driver, traffic jams and an incomplete section of the road up ahead. What follows is a tense, seat of your pants thrill ride that, had you a piece of coal between your butt cheeks, it just might make a diamond.

Everything about this movie was pitch perfect. From Reeve’s balls out heroic performance to Bullock’s very human Annie, Hopper’s batshit crazy Payne to Alan Ruck’s annoying yokel. Even Jeff Daniels, who had quite a year in 1994 also starring in Dumb and Dumber, is memorable in what could have been a thankless supporting role. In this ludicrous action thriller everyone is fleshed out enough to be relatable and even better enjoyable to watch.Speed 4K

De Bont was a well established and inventive cinematographer before he made his debut with Speed and he wasted no time proving himself in it and beyond it (let’s forget the sequel to this film, shall we?). He handles actor’s performances, amazing special effects (for the time), awesome real life stunt work, and shot composition with equal efficacy. This may be an older film now, but it’s still a complete roller coaster that appeals to any decade and still looks great.

This a sharply written script, with effective and engaging pacing, a solid protagonist and equally solid adversary, and as ridiculous as this premise is, it’s inhabited with a cast that you root for and an ending you beg to see. Graham Yost’s script is everything you could ask for in an action thriller.

Hard as it is to believe, Speed is almost 30 years old. It was a bit of a trail blazer back in its day, reshaped the careers of its director and two leads, and is definitely worthy of the title: CLASSIC. This gorgeous looking, crazy like a fox, action movie from the 90s is a masterful example of pacing and thrills. A must see then and still today.

4/5 stars

 

Speed (1994)

4K UHD Details

Home Video Distributor: Disney/Buena Vista
Available on Blu-ray
- May 4, 2021
Screen Formats: 2.39:1
Subtitles
: English SDH, French, German, Japanese, Spanish
Audio:
English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1; French: DTS 5.1; Spanish: Dolby Digital 5.1; German: DTS 5.1; Japanese: Dolby Digital 2.0
Discs: 4K Ultra HD; Blu-ray Disc; Two-disc set
Region Encoding: Region-free playback

Video

This is a stellar new 2160p native transfer from the Fox (now Disney) back catalogue. It’s colour palate is a significant uptick from previous releases, handling the deep blacks and blues from the opening elevator scenes to the freeways of L.A and everything in the middle. Grain is natural and presents a clean and accurate picture, rich with detail. Pores and wrinkles leap of the screen and the HDR enriches skylines and explosions to never before seen intensity. Didn’t see any artefacts, signs of digital scrubbing or prints flaws. This is overall a pretty flawless restoration and the best the film has looked.

Audio

Okay, the previous blu-ray release had a pretty spectacular and robust 5.1 DTS HD lossless mix, and it’s been reused for the UHD. There is nothing to complain about in this mix: it’s immersive, breathtaking in it’s clarity and speaker specificity. Dialogue is clean and crisp and centre focused. Effects and explosions will rattle your windows. If this was a blu-ray, I’d give it full marks (It was an Oscar winning mix after all), but this is a UHD 4K disc with a lot more storage. They did such a good job on this picture, the greedy sod in me wanted to see a 7.1 Atmos job done to match it. Some overhead channel work would take the sound into the stratosphere.

Supplements:

Special Features:

Sigh. Included blu ray contains multitudes of archival features from previous blu ray and DVD releases. Nothing contemporary, most of it in 480i and nothing new. Disappointing. New cover art and a slip case included in the region B UK disc I received. Amazingly I see no Disney brand logos on the packaging?

4K Rating

  Movie 4/5 stars
  Video  5/5 stars
  Audio 4/5 stars
  Extras 0/5 stars

Composite Blu-ray Grade

3.5/5 stars


Film Details

Speed 4K

MPAA Rating: Rated R for violence and language.
Runtime:
116 mins
Director
: Jan de Bont
Writer:
Graham Yost
Cast:
Keanu Reeves; Dennis Hopper; Sandra Bullock
Genre
: Action
Tagline:
Get ready for rush hour.
Memorable Movie Quote: "Pop quiz, hotshot. There's a bomb on a bus. Once the bus goes 50 miles an hour, the bomb is armed. If it drops below 50, it blows up. What do you do? What do you do?"
Theatrical Distributor:
Fox
Official Site:
Release Date:
June 10, 1994
4K UHD Release Date:
May 4, 2021
Synopsis: Hold on tight for a rush of pulse-pounding thrills, breath-taking stunts and unexpected romance in a film you'll want to see again and again. Keanu Reeves stars as an L.A.P.D. SWAT team specialist who is sent to diffuse a bomb that a revenge-driven extortionist (Dennis Hopper) has planted on a city bus. But until he does, 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. A high-octane chase of suspense, nonstop action and surprise twists, Speed is a joyride sure to keep you on the edge of your seat!

Art

Speed 4K

 Speed 4K back cover

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