Speed (1994 film): Wikis


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Theatrical poster
Directed by Jan de Bont
Produced by Mark Gordon
Ian Bryce
Written by Graham Yost
Joss Whedon (uncredited)
Starring Keanu Reeves
Dennis Hopper
Sandra Bullock
Joe Morton
Jeff Daniels
Alan Ruck
Glenn Plummer
Music by Mark Mancina
Cinematography Andrzej Bartkowiak
Editing by John Wright
Distributed by 20th Century Fox
Release date(s) June 10, 1994
Running time 116 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $28,000,000
Gross revenue $350,448,145
Followed by Speed 2: Cruise Control

Speed is a 1994 American action/thriller film directed by Jan de Bont, and set in Los Angeles. An LAPD officer, Police Officer III Jack Traven, becomes the focus of a bomber and extortionist, retired Atlanta bomb squad sergeant, Howard Payne. After Payne escapes his first entanglement with Traven, he sets up a bomb on a city bus which Traven boards and must keep moving above 50 miles per hour (80 km/h) or the bomb will explode. The film stars Keanu Reeves, Dennis Hopper and Sandra Bullock. In 1995, it won two Academy Awards for Best Sound and Best Sound Effects Editing.



Police Officer III Jack Traven and his partner Police Officer III Harry Temple, a veteran with over ten years on the force, are explosives experts in LAPD SWAT. A man, later revealed to be a disgruntled and retired Atlanta bomb squad sergeant named Howard Payne, is holding a group of thirteen office workers trapped in an express elevator for ransom. Charges have already taken out the cables, and Payne wants $3 million or he will blow the emergency brakes. Jack and Harry manage to rescue the hostages before Payne sends the elevator plummeting to the basement. They find Payne in a freight elevator. Payne manages to hold Harry hostage, but after a brief standoff, Jack follows Harry's insistent urging to "shoot the hostage" to take him out of the equation. Payne escapes and sets off a small explosion in the parking garage that knocks Jack unconscious and appears to kill Payne. Jack and Harry are then commended for their bravery by the LAPD in an official ceremony. Now with a crippled leg, Harry is promoted to Detective II and given a desk job.

The next morning, as Jack heads to work, a city bus explodes in front of him, killing the driver. Payne calls Jack on a nearby pay phone, revealing he is alive, his disgust with Jack for ruining his elevator hostage scheme, and that he has rigged another bus to explode. Once the bus reaches 50 miles per hour, the bomb will be armed. If it drops below 50, it will explode. In addition, Payne will detonate the bus manually if anyone gets off the bus, or if the ransom is not delivered on time. Jack locates the bus and jumps aboard, but the bomb has already been armed.

When Jack identifies himself as a police officer in an attempt to calm the passengers, one man draws a gun, believing Jack has come to arrest him. He accidentally shoots the driver, Sam (Hawthorne James), as he struggles to escape. Another passenger, Annie Porter, takes the wheel. Annie is left to drive the bus throughout the city while keeping it above the necessary speed and avoiding other cars. Jack is in contact with the officer in charge of his SWAT section, Lieutenant II "Mac" McMahon, who arranges an escort and directs them around the city from the air to try to get them away from traffic. News of the bomb on the bus quickly makes the TV broadcasts and soon there is a long line of police cars and news choppers trailing the bus, which has been routed onto the Interstate 105 freeway which is still under construction. Jack negotiates for the wounded bus driver to be evacuated from the moving bus. However, when Payne witnesses a terrified passenger named Helen (who is also Annie's friend) trying to get off as well, he detonates a small bomb under the steps. This causes Helen to fall under the bus, where she is crushed beneath the wheels. Helen's death leaves everyone stunned and also traumatizes Annie. Jack comforts Annie by reminding her that Payne is "the asshole".

The bus comes to a 50 ft (15 m) gap in the freeway, but by increasing speed the bus launches over the gap. After that, they drive to the Los Angeles International Airport where they can safely maintain their speed by driving in circles on the runway and, being a restricted airspace, the police can operate without the bomber seeing them in the media from the news helicopters. Jack goes under the bus on a sled in an attempt to defuse the bomb, but when the sled loses control he tries to grab hold of the bus and accidentally ruptures the fuel tank with a screwdriver.

Meanwhile, Detective Harry Temple, Jack's partner, realizes that the as-yet-unidentified bomber is using a device different to that of the elevator, which is strange, since terrorists usually stick to the type of bomb that they are familiar with and avoid variety. The man also knows all about the methods the police use to dismantle explosives. This leads Harry to conclude that the bomber is an ex-cop who was unsatisfied with the pension he received after his years of service. Payne is identified and Harry leads a raid on his residence, but Payne is not at home and has rigged the house with a bomb that blows it up with the team inside, killing them all.

Jack then discovers that Payne is monitoring the bus with a hidden camera. He realizes this when he recalls Payne calling Annie, who sports a University of Arizona tattoo, "The Wildcat". Using a news van, his colleagues are able to find the video feed and record it. The news team loops the footage being transmitted to Payne while the passengers are safely evacuated. Jack rigs the bus to keep going in circles so he and Annie can get off by riding on the bus' floor panel. The bus crashes into a fully fueled cargo plane and is destroyed in a spectacular explosion. Jack begins to fall in love with Annie, but she warns him that relationships started in intense situations tend not to last. Despite this, Annie starts to fall in love with him also.

The police plan to catch Payne picking up the ransom money, since he is at first unaware of the evacuation and destruction of the bus. However, Payne soon discovers that the feed is being looped and realizes that everyone has gotten off the bus safely. Nevertheless, disguised as a police officer, he kidnaps Annie off of the street, then escapes into the subway, where he collects the ransom money that dropped through a cleverly concealed hole beneath the designated trash can. He wires Annie with a bomb and a pressure release detonator, which he is holding. Jack pursues them and follows Payne onto the top of the subway car after the conductor is shot to death by Payne. Payne, enraged to discover his money has been tainted when a dye pack bursts, pursues Jack on top of the subway car. The fight is one-sided until Jack, seeing an incoming tunnel light, lifts Payne up. Payne is killed when the tunnel light hits his head, decapitating him, and allowing Jack to grab the detonator. Jack disarms Annie's bomb, by deactivating it from a switch located on her back, but cannot stop the train, as the control panel was damaged by a bullet during the fight. Noticing a sharp curve in the track ahead, Jack, in a counter-intuitive move, decides to accelerate the train to intentionally derail it, rather than have the train crash into the barrier at the end of the line. Despite Annie's pleas for him to get out and save himself, Jack refuses, and stands by her, something that makes them realize that they love each other. Jack holds Annie in a loving embrace as they ride on the speeding train. The train successfully derails, breaking through a wall where it comes to rest on Hollywood Boulevard where Annie passionately kisses Jack.



Part of the film featured the bus making its way onto Interstate 110 through the traffic


Screenwriter Graham Yost was told by his father, television host Elwy, about a film Runaway Train starring Jon Voight about a train that speeds out of control. The film was based on an idea by Akira Kurosawa. Elwy mistakenly believed that the train's situation was due to a bomb on board. Such a theme had in fact been used in the 1975 Japanese movie The Bullet Train. After seeing the Voight movie, Graham decided that it would have been better if there had been a bomb on board a bus with the bus being forced to travel at 20 mph to prevent an actual explosion. A friend suggested that this be increased to 50 mph.[1]


Stephen Baldwin, the first choice for the role of Jack Traven, felt the character (as written in the earlier version of the script) was too much like the John McClane character from Die Hard. Director Jan de Bont then cast Keanu Reeves as Jack Traven after seeing him in Point Break. He felt that the actor was "vulnerable on the screen. He's not threatening to men because he's not that bulky, and he looks great to women".[2] Reeves did not like how the character of Jack Traven came across in Graham Yost's original screenplay. He felt that there were "situations set up for one-liners and I felt it was forced — Die Hard mixed with some kind of screwball comedy".[2] Jan de Bont brought in Joss Whedon a week before principal photography started to work on the script.[3] With Reeves' input, Whedon changed Traven from being "a maverick hotshot" to "the polite guy trying not to get anybody killed",[3] and removed the character's glib dialogue and made him more earnest.[2] Reeves had dealt with the LAPD before on Point Break, and learned about their concern for human life, which he incorporated into Traven.[2] One of Whedon's significant contributions was changing the character of Doug Stephens (Alan Ruck) from a lawyer, "a bad guy and he died", according to the writer, to a tourist, "just a nice, totally out-of-his-depth guy".[3] Whedon worked predominantly on the dialogue, but also created a few significant plot points, like the killing of Harry Temple.[3] Sandra Bullock came to read for Speed with Reeves to make sure there was the right chemistry between the two actors. Originally, Bullock's character "Annie" was intended to be a comical sidekick to Jack. Instead, Annie became both Jack's sidekick and later love interest. She recalls that they had to do "all these really physical scenes together, rolling around on the floor and stuff".[4] The director did not want Traven to have long hair and wanted the character "to look strong and in control of himself".[2] To that end, Reeves shaved his head almost completely. The director remembers, "everyone at the studio was scared shitless when they first saw it. There was only like a millimeter. What you see in the movie is actually grown in".[2] Reeves also spent two months at Gold's Gym in Los Angeles to get in shape for the role.[2]

Principal photography

De Bont used an 80-foot model of a 50-story elevator shaft for the opening sequence.[5] While Speed was in production, actor and close friend to Reeves, River Phoenix died.[2] Immediately after Phoenix died, de Bont changed the shooting schedule to work around Reeves and give him scenes that were easier to do. "It got to him emotionally. He became very quiet, and it took him quite a while to work it out by himself and calm down. It scared the hell out of him", de Bont recalls.[2] Initially, Reeves was nervous about the film's many action sequences but as the shooting progressed he became more involved. He wanted to do the stunt where Traven jumps from a Jaguar onto the bus himself. Jan de Bont did not want him to do it, but Reeves rehearsed it in secret. On the day of the sequence, the actor did the stunt himself and de Bont remembers, "I almost had a heart attack".[2]

Eleven GM New Look buses and one Flxible Metro bus were used in the filming of the movie. Two of them were blown up, one was used for the high-speed scenes, one had the front cut off for inside shots, and one was used solely for the "under bus" shots. Another bus was used for the bus jump scene, which was done in one take.[6]

Many of the freeway scenes in the movie were filmed on California's Interstate 105 and Interstate 110, which was not officially open at the time of filming. While scouting this location, De Bont noticed big sections of road missing and told screenwriter Graham Yost to add the bus jump over the unfinished freeway to the script.[5] The jump was filmed on the fifth-level HOV lane ramp of the massive stack interchange. In the scene where the bus must jump across a gap in an uncompleted elevated freeway-to-freeway ramp while still under construction, a ramp was used to give the bus the necessary lift off so that it could jump the full fifty feet. The bus used in the jump was empty except for the driver, who wore a shock-absorbing harness that suspended him mid-air above the seat, so he could handle the jolt on landing, and avoid spinal injury (as was the case for many stuntmen in previous years that were handling similar stunts). The highway section the bus jumped over was a regular highway, with the gap added in the editing process using computer-generated imagery.[6]

On a commentary track on the region 1 DVD, De Bont reports that the bus jump stunt did not go as planned. To do the jump the bus had everything possible removed to make it lighter. On the first try the stunt driver missed the ramp and crashed the bus, making it unusable. This failure was not reported to the studio at the time. A second bus was prepared and two days later a second attempt was successful. But, again, things did not go as intended. Advised that the bus would only go about 20 feet, the director placed one of his multiple cameras in a position that was supposed to capture the bus landing. However, the bus traveled much farther airborne than anyone had thought possible. It crashed down on top of the camera and destroyed it. Luckily, another camera placed about 90 feet from the jump ramp recorded the event.

Filming of the final scenes occurred at Mojave Airport, which doubled for Los Angeles International Airport. The shots of the LACMTA Metro Red Line through the construction zone were shot using an 1/8th scale model of the Metro Red Line, except for the jump when it derailed.[6]

Speed began filming on September 7, 1993 and completed filming on December 23, 1993.


Speed was released on June 10, 1994 in 2,138 theaters and debuted at the number one position, grossing $14.5 million on its opening weekend. It went on to gross $121.3 million domestically and $229.2 million internationally for a worldwide total of $350.5 million.[7]

Speed was a critical and a commercial success. Rotten Tomatoes reported that 90% of critics gave the film positive reviews. Film critic Roger Ebert gave the film four out of four stars and wrote, "Films like Speed belong to the genre I call Bruised Forearm Movies, because you're always grabbing the arm of the person sitting next to you. Done wrong, they seem like tired replays of old chase cliches. Done well, they're fun. Done as well as Speed, they generate a kind of manic exhilaration".[8] In his review for Rolling Stone, Peter Travers wrote, "Action flicks are usually written off as a debased genre, unless, of course, they work. And Speed works like a charm. It's a reminder of how much movie escapism can still stir us when it's dished out with this kind of dazzle".[9] Hal Hinson, in his review for the The Washington Post, praised Sandra Bullock's performance: "The only performer to stand out is Sandra Bullock as Annie ... If it weren't for the smart-funny twist she gives to her lines — they're the best in the film — the air on that bus would have been stifling ... she emerges as a slightly softer version of the Linda Hamilton-Sigourney Weaver heroines: capable, independent, but still irresistibly vulnerable".[10] In her review for the The New York Times, Janet Maslin wrote, "Mr. Hopper finds nice new ways to convey crazy menace with each new role. Certainly he's the most colorful figure in a film that wastes no time on character development or personality".[11] Entertainment Weekly gave the film an "A" rating and Owen Gleiberman wrote, "It's a pleasure to be in the hands of an action filmmaker who respects the audience. De Bont's craftsmanship is so supple that even the triple ending feels justified, like the cataclysmic final stage of a Sega death match".[12] Time magazine's Richard Schickel wrote, "The movie has two virtues essential to good pop thrillers. First, it plugs uncomplicatedly into lurking anxieties -- in this case the ones we brush aside when we daily surrender ourselves to mass transit in a world where the loonies are everywhere".[13]

Entertainment Weekly magazine's Owen Gleiberman ranked Speed as the eighth best film of 1994.[14] The magazine also ranked the film eighth on their "The Best Rock-'em, Sock-'em Movies of the Past 25 Years" list.[15] Speed also ranks 451 on Empire magazine's 2008 list of "The 500 Greatest Movies of All Time".[16] The film was also placed at #99 on the American Film Institute's 100 Years...100 Thrills list, detailing the 100 "most heart-pounding" American movies of all time.[17]

Home media

In November 1994, Fox Video released Speed on VHS and laserdisc formats for the very first time. Rental and video sales did very well and helped the film's domestic gross. The original VHS cassette was only available in standard format at the time and in 1996 Fox Video re-released a VHS version of the film in widescreen allowing the viewer to see the film in a similar format to its theatrical release. In 1998, 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment released Speed on DVD for the very first time. The DVD was in a widescreen format but other than the film's theatrical trailer the DVD contained no extras aside from the film. In 2002, Fox released a special collector's edition of the film with many extras and a remastered format of the film. Fox re-released this edition several times throughout the years with different covering and finally in November 2006 Speed was released on a Blu-ray Disc format with over five hours of special features.


In 1995, the film was nominated for three Academy Awards for Best Film Editing, Best Sound and Best Sound Effects Editing, winning the latter two. [18] Also Sandra Bullock won 3 MTV Movie Awards for Speed.


A soundtrack album featuring "songs from and inspired by" the film was released with the following tracks:

Speed: Songs From And Inspired By The Motion Picture

  1. Billy Idol - "Speed"
  2. The Plimsouls - "A Million Miles Away"
  3. Gin Blossoms - "Soul Deep"
  4. Cracker - "Let's Go for a Drive"
  5. Blues Traveler - "Go Outside and Drive"
  6. Ric Ocasek - "Crash"
  7. Pat Benatar - "Rescue Me"
  8. Rod Stewart - "Hard Road"
  9. Carnival Strippers - "Cot"
  10. Gary Numan - "Cars ('93 Sprint Remix)"
  11. Saint Etienne - "Like a Motorway"
  12. Kiss - "Mr. Speed"

In addition to the above release, a separate album featuring 40 minutes of Mark Mancina's score from the film was released.


In 1997, a sequel, Speed 2: Cruise Control, was released. Set on a cruise ship, it features Sandra Bullock returning to reprise her role, Willem Dafoe as the new villain, and Jason Patric as the new protagonist and love interest. It is considered one of the worst sequels of all time, barely reaching 2% on Rotten Tomatoes.[19]


"Speed 3", an episode of the British sitcom Father Ted, featured a bomb being placed on a milk float with the threat of it exploding if it goes under 4 mph.

In an episode of The Simpsons, Homer refers to Speed, describing the premise and then stating "I think it was called The Bus That Couldn't Slow Down." In another episode 'Bye Bye Nerdie', Marge engages in a high-speed chase with Otto (the school-bus driver) prompting Millhouse to ironically remark "It's just like Speed 2, but with a bus instead of a boat!"

On the April 8, 2009 episode of the Discovery Channel series MythBusters, the team re-created the scene in which passengers move to the right side of the bus to prevent it from tipping over during a turn; it was determined that there would not actually be any danger of the bus tipping. Subsequently, on the December 9, 2009 episode, the team attempted to re-create the 50-foot bus jump without success.

In the Aqua Teen Hunger Force episode Gene-E, Shake mentions a script for a movie he wrote called Fast, which is "like Speed, only the bus must go 150 miles per hour, or the bomb will go off". He only wrote a title and an ending.

Speed was also given a mention as part of Eddie Izzard's 'Dress to kill' stand up series. During the sketch where languages are topic, Izzard describes the plot in French. This all stemming from the idea of trying to use three phrases which he picked up while learning French at school. He finishes off the sketch by stating "that was the film Speed in French....which in France it was called la vitesse....or at least it should have been, but it was actually called Speed." http://www.script-o-rama.com/movie_scripts/e/eddie-izzard-dress-to-kill-script.html


  1. ^ Empire - Special Collectors' Edition - The Greatest Action Movies Ever (published in 2001)
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Gerosa, Melina (1994-06-10). "Speed Racer". Entertainment Weekly. http://www.ew.com/ew/article/0,,302555,00.html. Retrieved 2009-04-09. 
  3. ^ a b c d Kozak, Jim (August/September 2005). "Serenity Now!". In Focus. http://www.natoonline.org/infocus/05augustseptember/whedonuncut.htm. Retrieved 2009-04-09. 
  4. ^ Svetkey, Benjamin (1994-07-22). "Overdrive". Entertainment Weekly. http://www.ew.com/ew/article/0,,303034,00.html. Retrieved 2009-04-09. 
  5. ^ a b McCabe, Bob (June 1999). "Speed". Empire: pp. 121. 
  6. ^ a b c Dennis Hopper (host). (1994). The Making of 'Speed'. [Documentary]. 20th Century Fox. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0338225/. 
  7. ^ "Speed". Box Office Mojo. http://www.boxofficemojo.com/movies/?id=speed.htm. Retrieved 2008-12-03. 
  8. ^ Ebert, Roger (1994-06-10). "Speed". Chicago Sun-Times. http://rogerebert.suntimes.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/19940610/REVIEWS/406100302/1023. Retrieved 2008-12-03. 
  9. ^ Travers, Peter (1994-06-30). "Speed'". Rolling Stone. http://www.rollingstone.com/reviews/movie/5948689/review/5948690/speed. Retrieved 2008-12-03. 
  10. ^ Hinson, Hal (1994-06-10). "Speed". The Washington Post. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/style/longterm/movies/videos/speedrhinson_a05e76.htm. Retrieved 2008-12-03. 
  11. ^ Maslin, Janet (1994-06-10). "An Express Bus in a Very Fast Lane". The New York Times. http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9B0CE7DA133AF933A25755C0A962958260&scp=14&sq=%22Jan+de+Bont%22&st=nyt. Retrieved 2008-12-03. 
  12. ^ Gleiberman, Owen (1994-06-17). "Speed". Entertainment Weekly. http://www.ew.com/ew/article/0,,302664,00.html. Retrieved 2009-04-09. 
  13. ^ Schickel, Richard (1994-06-13). "Brain Dead but Not Stupid". Time. http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,980876,00.html. Retrieved 2009-04-09. 
  14. ^ Gleiberman, Owen (1994-12-30). "The Best & Worst 1994/Movie". Entertainment Weekly. http://www.ew.com/ew/article/0,,305081_3,00.html. Retrieved 2009-04-09. 
  15. ^ "The Action 25: The Best Rock-'em, Sock-'em Movies of the Past 25 Years". Entertainment Weekly. http://www.ew.com/ew/gallery/0,,20219939_17,00.html. Retrieved 2009-04-09. 
  16. ^ "The 500 Greatest Movies of All Time". Empire. http://www.empireonline.com/500/10.asp. Retrieved 2009-04-09. 
  17. ^ [http://www.afi.com/Docs/tvevents/pdf/thrills100.pdf AFI's 100 Years...100 Thrills
  18. ^ Academy Awards Database: Speed; accessed on October 4, 2006
  19. ^ Rotten Tomatoes

External links


Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

Speed is a 1994 film action thriller film focuses on police officer Jack Traven who must races against speed to foil the crazed plan of an insane bomber/extortionist, who sets up a bomb on a city bus which Traven boards, which must keep moving above 50 miles per hour (80 km/h) or the bomb will explode.

Directed by Jan de Bont. Starring Keanu Reeves, Dennis Hopper and Sandra Bullock.
Get ready for rush hour


Jack Traven

  • (To bus driver) L.A.P.D.!! There's a BOMB on your BUS!!
  • "This bus... Is going way too fast."
  • "Will the mystery guest please check in."
  • "Mac, we're boned."
  • "He's been playing us, since minute one."
  • "Yeah, well it mustn't have been too good, because I woke up alone."
  • "You're right. It's going to turn over."
  • "Do you have insurance?"
  • "There's enough C-4... to blow a hole in the world."
  • "F@%$ Me"

Howard Payne

  • "It was the watch that lead him to me, wasn't it?"
  • "We got all the balls in the world right here man."
  • "Way to go, Jack."
  • "... because I'm smarter than you."
  • "No, Jack... Poor people are crazy. Rich people are eccentric."
  • "I don't suppose anyone is going to give me two million dollars for you?"
  • " Don't F@%$ with Daddy."
  • "Do you think if you pick up all the busdriver's teeth, they'll give you another prize? I've got your attention now, Jack, don't I?"
  • "Don't try to grow a brain."

Annie Porter

  • "I got gum on my seat! GUM!"
  • "You're a good, kind man. They're gonna write songs about you."
  • "Oh, my God, he *is* insane."
  • "Get your ass behind the yellow line."
  • "Thanks for the tip, Ortiz"

Captain McMahon

  • " You're all fired. You're F#@*ing fired."

Harry Temple

"He'd want to be here, but he'd want to stay mobile."

"Yeah, well, Mac outweighs your gut, so we sit."

"That's our scumbag!"

"Yeah, well, Mac outranks your gut, so we sit."


Jaguar Owner

  • Oh shit! Oh shit!
  • "Nice move, man!"
  • "Yeah, you get on the bus."


  • "Well, I guess they fell behind."



  • (struggling) There's an access panel...in the floor, beneath you.
  • (to jack) Get off the door, man! This ain't no bus stop!
  • (to annie) this ain't no bus stop!
  • "How do you feel?"... "Like I been shot."




  • "What do you mean?", female passenger, in tiny high toned voice.
  • "Yeah, well the last time I partied like that, I woke up married, huh, Vinnie?" Bus driver to Jack.


Jack: (disgusted at seeing a cheap gold watch strapped to the bomb on the bus, (or, seeing enough C-4 to, "blow a hole in the world"): FUCK ME!!
Tourist (politely): Oh darn.


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