Jan De Bont
Under the capable guise of director Jan de Bont, these kids jump, hop, shot, yell, punch and just plain explode all over the screen. I can't remember many other films in which you get to see a bus run into an airplane or when you see a bus make a 50 foot jump over a hole in the road. Pretty neat, especially if you factor in the falling elevators and the bombs that go off constantly. All in all, the film is great fun but seems to drag on a bit when you consider that the plot takes that one element of the bomb on the bus and runs with it for almost two hours. In its defense though, I'm pretty sure this film wasn't made to entertain through its brilliant screenplay and snappy dialogue. It's basically there to thrill with its action sequences and it does a bang up job of that.
The film is also pretty good looking with some nice looking fireballs and some stunts you wouldn't believe (kudos to Keanu for performing most of his himself) and though it lacks a bit of Sandra Bullock removing her top to drive the bus, you still get to watch a cute girl gun a huge vehicle on the highway. So "fun times" you ask? Yes. Fun times... fun indeed.
This disc contains the two commentary tracks included on the DVD. One of the great aspects of these tracks is that like with the video scene selection, they're split up into different chapters depending on the topic being discussed. It's pretty neat because you can just skip through the stuff you don't give a rat's behind about.
Audio commentary by director Jan de Bont: De Bont is actually a pretty talkative dude, doesn't leave much blanks in his commentary and seems like a pretty interesting and genuine guy, so the chatter isn't pretentious or boring but just sounds like a guy talking about his film. He doesn't mention anything groundbreaking as far as tracks go though.
Audio commentary by screenwriter Graham Yost and producer Mark Gordon: These two guys go over pretty much everything you'd expect them to, which is some of the production tidbits and the several rewrites on the script. They're both pretty talkative and sound like they're on speed themselves (pun fully intended). They're pretty entertaining but they talk a lot and they talk fast and they sort of wear you down after a little while.
Bus Jump (10 minutes): Short featurette discussing the preparation and shooting of the film's most wild stunt: a bus hopping over a 50-foot gap in the highway. Very cool and yet disappointing to realize a bus can't really do that... and I had such plans...
Metrorail Crash (7 minutes): Like the above, this featurette shows you how they manage to take a full size metro wagon and crash it all over Hollywood Boulevard. It looks like there were some pretty freaked out tourists in L.A. that day.
Multi-Stream Storyboards: This was actually pretty cool. You get to watch three different scenes in a storyboard/film comparison You can either watch the completed scene, the storyboards or both together with a flick of the "angle" button on your remote. You can also watch the storyboards for a kick-ass scene that was never shot for budgetary reasons. Too bad. If they had only known at the time the film would be a huge hit...
Multi-Angle Stunts: This was one of my favorite features on the DVD. You can watch 4 stunt scenes through the 8 different cameras that were used to shoot them. They only get to shoot many of these only once so they load up the cameras and have them all running. It gives some pretty good insight on how creative the director and stunt coordinator has to be to make it all fit in.
On-Location featurette (7 minutes): Standard on-location featurette although its pretty cool because it does bring up a lot of the things that you don't think about at all during the film. For starters, the whole film takes place on a freakin' bus and not once did I think to myself "where's the production crew?". This answered it: they're all on the bus! Check this out and see how they do it. I love stuff like that.
Stunts featurette (12 minutes): As you'd imagine, the stunts are where this thing all plays out. I was impressed to see Keanu perform a lot of his considering they're all pretty dangerous. This is a pretty standard feature hosted by stunt coordinators and such.
Visual Effects featurette (10 minutes): Features a bunch of cool tidbits such as a massive miniature prop they used in the opening sequence to look like a complete life-size 42 story elevator shaft. The discussion does get a bit technical at some point but it's really worth it, especially when you see how well they used their matte paintings and miniatures to really complement the film in great fashion.
Original Screenplay: This is pretty straightforward, a text display of the original screenplay. I didn't read it.
Production Design: Pretty regular text explanation of the set, prop design with interactive access to some the images and plans.
This is a bunch of interviews with the main players and much like the commentary, it's well divided into sections. If you want to hear what Keanu has to say about de Bont, you can just forward straight to that part. It's simple and yet so few think about it. You can see interviews with Reeves, Bullock, Jeff Daniels, Hopper and de Bont. They're all pretty informative but the scariest part is that Keanu actually talks in interview like he acts. Creepy...
Here, you can watch five extended scenes worth a total of about 12 minutes. The scenes actually have only pretty minor additions to them and none will blow you away with a new element you never understood before but they're still pretty fun to watch. It looks like they didn't leave very much of this film on the cutting room floor.
You want pictures? You'd better because if you do you'll have a bout 1,000,000 of them in these galleries. This library contain 18 different galleries with stills from the film, the locations, production and many, many more.
Trailers & TV Spots: contains the theatrical trailer along with 11 TV spots from the film's add campaign. I remember this campaign and you had the feeling when these came out that the film would be a bit special. I guess they were effective.
HBO First Look: The Making of Speed (25 minutes): Hosted by Dennis Hopper, this feature contains interviews with the cast & crew as well as on-set footage and some background on the story. Once again though, the stunt work becomes the main focus and with good reason. HBO always does these pretty well.
"Speed" Music Video by Billy Idol: Usually at the mere mention of the words "Billy Idol", I'll get a glazed over look in my eyes and remember my tender childhood... this time was no different. This dude rocked, rocks and always will rock! He is entertainment and he is rock n' roll. Billy, you're a great man and your video and song are great as well...
Press kit production notes: Another text feature, this time containing the texts usually send out to critics before a film's release. It's pretty fluffy but if you have a minute to check it out, go ahead by all means. I personally read the first page and stopped there.
Easter egg alert: [[[SPOILER]]] If you go to the "action sequences" choice on disc 2 and click to the right, you'll land on a little bus shaped icon. Press enter and you'll end up in the DVD credits section where some navigation will lead you to an added scene. The scene is a re-edit of the original in which the bus crashes into a plane. You get to watch the airline version, which is heavily edited to avoid showing the passenger a plane blowing up. Cool!