Review by Jack Foley
DVD FEATURES: Disc One: Feature-length commentary by director
Jan de Bont; Audio commentary by writer Graham Yost and producer Mark Gordon;
Ratio: 2.35:1 widescreen 16:9 Language: English Dolby 5.1 / DTS 5.1; Subtitles:
Hard of Hearing English, Croatian, Czech, Danish, Finnish, Hebrew, Hungarian,
Icelandic, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Swedish, Turkish, Dutch.
Disc Two: Making of documentary; Two featurettes - Bus jump scene and Metrorail crash; Three 'Inside Speed' featurettes - On location stunts and Visual Effects; Interviews with the stars and director; Five extended scenes; Multi-angle stunts sequences; Multi-stream storyboards; Billy Idol music video; Production notes; Stills gallery; 11 TV spots; Original theatrical trailer
TOM Cruise once told a colleague in Top Gun: "I feel the need, the need
for speed!" Well, I guess director Jan De Bont obviously knew what he
meant, for this high octane crowd-pleaser was the surprise package of a blockbuster-filled
summer of 1994 (when it went up against the likes of Arnie's True Lies).
That it emerged as one of the action films of the year, if not the 90s, helping to cement Keanu Reeves position as an action hero (he had already turned heads in Point Break), is no mean feat, given that it is held together by the flimsiest of plots, contains some truly banal dialogue and is really only a thinly-conceived excuse for one set piece after another.
The premise is simple, a madman (Dennis Hopper) bids to hold LA to ransom by placing bombs in various places. His first attempt, in a lift, is foiled by Reeves's gutsy SWAT team member, Jack Travers, prompting a lethal cat and mouse game between the two protagonists.
Hopper, in a bid to get even, places a bomb on a bus which is triggered when the vehicle gets above 50mph and detonated when it dips back below. The only person who can stop it is, of course, Travers, who hops on board and enlists the help of Sandra Bullock's equally feisty passenger to drive the out-of-control vehicle and prevent the seemingly inevitable.
Trying to figure a way out of the ensuing mess is Jeff Daniels, Travers's partner, while the remaining passengers fight, bicker and generally bond with each other.
From its blistering opening sequence, through to the moment where audiences will believe that a bus can fly, Speed seldom lets up, setting a benchmark for action movies ever since. It's crass in places, corny as hell, but one hell of a ride, fuelled by believable performances from its stars - Reeves, in particular, shines, while Hopper makes a suitably insane villain.
First-time director De Bont cut his teeth as cameraman on the likes of Die Hard and Basic Instinct and, here, he is let off the leash, throwing in one giddy sequence after another, and more explosions and carnage than you could possibly imagine - one wonders why, given the bill the LAPD eventually must have faced, the cops didn't simply pay up and have done with!
Ultimately, Speed goes a little too far - the third action segment, featuring yet another bomb on an underground train - stretches things a little beyond belief; but it is kept mercifully short and maintains the adrenaline rush; as well as allowing Reeves and the incredibly cute Bullock the opportunity for that long overdue snog.
Pop quiz, hotshots! How long will it be before you make the Speed DVD part of your collection?