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This review originally appeared in issue 11 of THE CINEMA LASER.


Without question, Keanu Reeves is the absolute worst actor appearing in major motion pictures. He gives such incredibly bad performances that he makes Steven Seagal look like a professional actor by comparison. His delivery of dialog is so grating, that every time he opened his mouth we wanted to insert our foot into it. Reeves has the good looks of a Ken doll, which is why he is still working. Unfortunately, he has about the same acting ability as a Ken doll- an empty plastic head all the way. Even with all that said, we have to admit that we still liked SPEED ($30). Somehow, SPEED's great action scenes, and impressive stunt work, negate the fact that the leading man is an absolute zip.

Reeves stars as a hotshot cop who comes up against a deranged bomb expert, who tries to hold a city for ransom. When our hero derails the bomber's first, high rise, extortion attempt, he becomes an integral part of the second. The bomber places a high tech bomb on a city bus, which activates when the speed of the bus exceeds 50 mile per hour, and is set to explode if the bus drops beneath that speed. Dennis Hopper is terrific as the bomber, and his performance goes way over the top. Hopper's presence is the key ingredient that really holds this film together. Sandra Bullock is SPEED's heroine, and she is a wonderful breath of fresh air. Her character is smart and sassy for the most part, but she does manage to do the one really dumb thing you would expect this film's heroine to do (and we don't mean ending up with Keanu Reeves). Jeff Daniels is also good in the thankless role of Reeves' partner.

SPEED is a THX disc with a retail price of $30.00. This in itself is terrific, but the fact that this low cost THX disc comes from Fox Video absolutely proves the point that Fox has been ripping off Laserdisc collectors for years with their grossly overpriced Letterboxed titles. The Letterboxed transfer comes very close to the full Panavision width, with none of the compositions looking overly cramped. As for the transfer itself, it is very good, but we expected a bit more from the THX logo. The image is usually sharp, but a couple of shots seemed to lack the "snap" associated with the very best transfers. Also, the colors were a bit over-saturated at times, and somewhat fuzzy. The digitally encoded Dolby Surround soundtrack benefited from the THX factor and was uniformly excellent. Good separation and good surround. The Japanese pressing had a few errant speckles.

Despite Keanu Reeves, this disc has a high entertainment factor, and a "reasonable" THX price which earns it our recommendation. SPEED is also an example of where Laserdisc prices should be going... in a downward direction. We hope the Laserdisc industry will follow this lead and start lowering the prices on all their product.


Laserdisc reviews are Copyright 1996 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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