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Jack Traven is the main protagonist of Speed.


Jack Traven with his Smith & Wesson 6904 pistol in Speed.

He was portrayed by Keanu Reeves.


An ambitious, yet impulsive young cop with the Los Angeles police department, Traven is on the SWAT team as well as regular duty. He carries a Colt M1911A1 as his personal sidearm (this makes sense because the LA SWAT teams all carry 1911s) and uses a Heckler & Koch MP5 when on the SWAT team.

Jack and his partner, Harry Temple, are able to sneak inside the elevator shaft which an unidentified bomber is holding hostage. Though the bomber blows the brakes with three minutes left in the hour-long time limit he gave, Jack and Harry manage to rescue the hostages before the elevator falls. They track the bomber to the building's freight elevator, where the man takes Harry hostage. Jack shoots Harry in the leg (as Harry told him to), forcing the man to drop him. Jack tries to follow, but another explosion occurs and the bomber appears to have been caught in the debris.

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Sometime later, Jack and Harry are commended for their actions, and Harry is promoted to detective with a desk job while his leg heals. The morning after the two are honored, Jack witnesses the destruction of a Santa Monica Transit commuter bus, which kills its driver. Answering a nearby ringing payphone, Jack discovers the bomber had escaped the building explosion. The bomber informs him that another bus, an express bus, is rigged with a bomb that will activate when the bus exceeds 50 miles per hour and then will detonate when it falls below that, demands a $3.7 million ransom to deactivate the device, and warns that he will set it off manually if Jack tries to remove the passengers. Jack races to catch up to the bus and manages to get on, but only after it passes 50 miles per hour.

While Jack explains the situation to the driver Sam, a paranoid passenger, thinking Jack is there to arrest him, threatens Jack with a gun and fires, striking Sam in the arm by accident while being subdued. Another passenger, Annie Porter, takes over as Sam is cared for while Jack restrains the paranoid passenger and informs the rest of the situation. With advice from the police, Jack has Annie drive the bus off the busy freeway, through city streets, and eventually onto an incomplete freeway devoid of traffic. The police soon arrive to escort the bus, while news helicopters fly overhead and report on the story.

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Jack, with the help of the passengers, is able to describe the bomb on the undercarriage to Harry; Harry focuses on a cheap gold watch that is part of the bomb's mechanism. Jack convinces the bomber to allow them to offload Sam to a police flatbed truck to get medical attention; but another passenger, Helen, who cannot stand to stay on the bus any longer, attempts to follow. Unfortunately, the bomber sees Helen trying to escape and detonates a smaller bomb under the bus's stairs, sending her to the pavement where she is crushed by its tires. Jack assumes the bomber is monitoring the situation, and has the trailing helicopters cleared out.

The police discover that the incomplete freeway has a gap in an overpass, and Jack directs Annie to go at full speed, allowing them to clear it. Shortly after, he sees they are close to LAX international airport, and directs Annie to it; its tarmac will give them enough clear space to drive while the news helicopters cannot enter the airspace.

Jack, after getting off the bus, then sends himself under the bus via a cart towed from a vehicle leading the bus to try to defuse the bomb with Harry's verbal help to no avail, but Harry's team soon discover the identity of the bomber: Howard Payne, a former police officer who worked on Atlanta's bomb squad, and was forced to retire in 1989 after an explosion caused him to lose a finger. With this knowledge, Harry gets his team to track down Payne's Los Angeles address while telling Jack to stay put. However, debris on the tarmac cause the cart to become unsteady, and Jack's only recourse is to puncture the side of the gas tank with a screwdriver to avoid falling under the bus. The passengers use a floor panel to rescue Jack in time.

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Meanwhile, Harry and his team arrive at Payne's home, but it is rigged with explosives which go off, killing most of them. Payne calls into Jack to brag and taunt him of Harry's death and in the process, unintentionally reveals there is a camera inside the bus. Jack gets the police to work with one of the news crews to find the camera's signal, record a sequence of footage, and then rebroadcast that on that channel to falsify the camera signal back to Payne. This allows them to rescue all the passengers safely as the bus's fuel level drains. Jack stays with Annie to keep the bus steady, and then escapes with her using the floor panel. The unmanned bus then runs into the side of an empty cargo plane and explodes.

Following the explosion of the unmanned bus, Annie joins Jack and the police as they wait at the designated drop spot with marked bills for Payne, since they want to take Payne alive to prevent any more threats he has in store. However, Payne finally discovers the looping feed and sees that the police are waiting for him, much to his anger. Observing Annie nearby, Payne poses as a police officer and leads her away. The police drop the money in a trash can (the designated drop spot), but Jack later finds a hole below it leading to the subway system.

Jack follows and encounters Payne with the money and Annie as his hostage, the latter now wearing a vest lined with explosives that will go off if he drops a trigger on a device he holds. Jack angrily demands Payne to let Annie go, saying that he can get away with the money, but Payne refuses, still threatening to drop the trigger. Payne then drags Annie onto a subway train, forcing its conductor to set the train in motion while forcing the other passengers to leave by threatening to shoot them. As the train heads forward, Payne kills the conductor after handcuffing Annie to a pole, but Jack is able to catch onto it at the last moment.

After learning that Jack is in the train, Payne opens his money case only to discover there is a dye pack in it, which explodes, rendering the money useless. Angered, Payne gets onto the roof of the train and engages in a fight with Jack in which he throws away the officer's gun, hoping to kill him in revenge for his loss. However, while Payne is about to prevail and kill the rival, Jack finds that the train is about to cross below a passing signal light and manages to kill Payne by decapitating his head into the light, while grabbing the trigger away from him.

Though Jack frees Annie from the vest safely, they find the brakes on the train are now broken and have no way to communicate with the police. Even worse, Jack cannot free Annie from the pole, as there are no keys to the handcuffs. Jack realizes their best chance to survive is to derail the train along a curved part of the track, and sets the train into its highest speed. As expected, the train derails through an area under construction, and the car they are in slides along an uncompleted tunnel, flying out and landing on Hollywood Boulevard. Safe and realizing that they have fallen in love with each other, the two share a kiss while onlookers watch.


Background Information and Notes[]

  • Many movie critics and viewers have noted that the similar police officer Tom Ludlow (also portrayed by Reeves) in the 2008 20th Century Fox film, Street Kings and it's lead character is a far darker version of the Jack Traven character.

Speed film series Characters
Characters in Speed
Heroes Jack Traven - Annie Porter
Villain Howard Payne
Allies Harry Temple - Lt. "Mac" McMahon - Sgt. Norwood - Robin Barnette
Other characters Doug Stephens - Ortiz - Sam - Helen - Mrs. Kamino - Ray - Maurice - Mr. Bagwell - Bob - Vince - Mrs. McMahon
Characters in Speed 2: Cruise Control
Heroes Alex Shaw - Annie Porter
Villain John Geiger
Allies Juliano - Merced - Maurice - Marifa - Liza
Other characters Capt. Polard - Captain "Mac" McMahon - Esterhaus - Mr. Kenter - Dante - Frank - Fran - Ruby - Isabel - Rupert - Alejandro - Sheri Silver - Ashton - Celeste - Drew - Debbie - Harvey