Die Hard scenario Wiki
Speed xlg
Speed theatrical poster
Written by Graham Yost
Directed by Jan de Bont
Produced by Mark Gordon
Starring Keanu Reeves
Dennis Hopper
Sandra Bullock
Joe Morton
Alan Ruck
Jeff Daniels
Music by Mark Mancina
Cinematography by Andrzej Bartkowiak
Editing by John Wright
Distributed by 20th Century Fox
Release Date June 10, 1994
Rated R
Budget $30,000,000
Grossed $350,448,145
Followed by Speed 2: Cruise Control

Speed is a 1994 American action-thriller film directed by Jan de Bont. The film stars Keanu Reeves, Dennis Hopper, Sandra Bullock and Jeff Daniels. A surprise critical and commercial success, it won two Academy Awards, for Best Sound Editing and Best Sound Mixing at the 67th Academy Awards in 1995.

In this film, it's about Los Angeles SWAT officer Jack Traven (Reeves) discovers that a bomb has been planted on a bus by a revenge-driven ex-bomb squad officer Howard Payne (Hopper) and has to keep the bus driving above 50mph to avoid detonation. As reluctant passenger and now driver Annie Porter (Bullock) takes the wheel, Traven has to figure out a way to disarm the bomb and beat Payne at his own game.

Speed is unanimously regarded as one of the best Die Hard scenario films.


In Los Angeles an unidentified man traps several office workers inside a skyscraper elevator using small, remotely-detonated C-4 bombs. He demands $3 million, threatening to detonate the emergency brakes that are preventing the elevator from plunging down the shaft. Los Angeles Police Department SWAT members Jack Traven and Harry Temple are able to sneak inside the shaft. 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.

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 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 105 Freeway devoid of traffic. The police soon arrive to escort the bus, while news helicopters fly overhead and report on the story.

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 Los Angeles 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.

Meanwhile, Harry and his team arrive at Payne's home, but it is rigged with explosives which go off, killing 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 at Pershing Square 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.

Cast & characters[]

Main characters[]


Bus Passengers[]

  • Alan Ruck as Doug Stephens
  • Carlos Carrasco as Ortiz
  • Hawthorne James as Sam
  • Beth Grant as Helen

Elevator Passengers[]

  • Patrick Fischler as Bob

Other characters[]

  • Glenn Plummer as "Tuneman" (Jaguar Owner) (later named "Maurice" in Speed 2: Cruise Control)


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.

Speed was a critical and a commercial success. 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". In his review for Rolling Stone magazine, 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". In her review for 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". 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." 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". Filmmaker Quentin Tarantino (who was also commissioned to direct the film, but declined) named the film one of the twenty best films he had seen since 1992.

Entertainment Weekly magazine's Owen Gleiberman ranked Speed as 1994's eighth best film. The magazine also ranked the film eighth on their "The Best Rock-'em, Sock-'em Movies of the Past 25 Years" list. Speed also ranks 451 on Empire magazine's 2008 list of "The 500 Greatest Movies of All Time".

Review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes retrospectively collected 41 reviews to give the film a score of 90% with an average rating of 7.6/10.



Speed- Movie Trailer (1994)

Pop culture references[]

  • On the TV show "Psych" (co-starring Timothy Omundson), which is always heavy with movie and TV show references, there are two episodes that reference the film; in the 2009 episode "Truer Lies", Shawn says to Ryan: "Let me guess. There's a bomb on a bus, and, if it goes below 50 miles per hour, the whole thing's gonna explode." In another episode released the same year titled "Shawn Gets the Yips," Shawn says, "I'm starring in the elliptical version of Speed."
  • In the 2005 LucasArts video game Mercenaries: Playground of Destruction, there is a challenge titled "Speed!" and the mission involves getting in a bus and maintaining a certain speed. Also, in the mission description, the first line is "Pop quiz, hotshot!", referencing the line Howard Payne says to Jack Traven.
  • In the little-seen 2000 comedy film Gun Shy, co-starring Liam Neeson and Oliver Platt, there's a scene where Sandra Bullock's character gets onto a bus sharing the same serial number "2525" as the vehicle in Speed.
  • In the 2014 sequel Horrible Bosses 2 (co-starring Chris Pine), the film Speed 's concept of placing people on a boss with a bomb on it is mentioned as one of many kidnapping attempts that aren't later considered. Jason Batman's character Nick Hendricks later states that they won't do that because it's a bad movie with a bad idea.
  • In episode 3 of the anime Aria the Scarlet Ammo, there's a bomb on a bus that will explode if it stops. Kinji and Aria jump onto the bus and the bomb is eventually taken out by Reki.

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