World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Speed (1994 film)

Article Id: WHEBN0000099123
Reproduction Date:

Title: Speed (1994 film)  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: 1995 MTV Movie Awards, 67th Academy Awards, Jan de Bont, Dennis Hopper, Keanu Reeves
Collection: 1990S Action Films, 1994 Films, 20Th Century Fox Films, American Action Thriller Films, American Disaster Films, American Films, Chase Films, Directorial Debut Films, English-Language Films, Fictional Portrayals of the Los Angeles Police Department, Films About Terrorism, Films Directed by Jan De Bont, Films Set in 1993, Films Set in Los Angeles, California, Films That Won the Best Sound Editing Academy Award, Films That Won the Best Sound Mixing Academy Award, Police Detective Films, Screenplays by Joss Whedon, Terrorism in Fiction
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Speed (1994 film)

Theatrical release poster
Directed by Jan de Bont
Produced by Mark Gordon
Written by Graham Yost
Joss Whedon (uncredited)
Starring Keanu Reeves
Dennis Hopper
Sandra Bullock
Joe Morton
Jeff Daniels
Music by Mark Mancina
Cinematography Andrzej Bartkowiak
Edited by John Wright
Mark Gordon Productions
Distributed by 20th Century Fox
Release dates
  • June 10, 1994 (1994-06-10)
Running time
116 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $30 million[1][2]
Box office $350.4 million[1]

Speed is a 1994 American disaster action film directed by Jan de Bont in his feature film directorial debut. The film stars Keanu Reeves, Dennis Hopper, Sandra Bullock, Joe Morton, 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 early 1995. The film tells the story of the LAPD cop who tries to rescue civilians on a city bus rigged with a bomb programmed to explode if the bus slows down or if civilians try to escape.

A sequel called Speed 2: Cruise Control was released in June 1997.


  • Plot 1
  • Cast 2
  • Production 3
    • Writing 3.1
    • Casting 3.2
    • Filming 3.3
  • Reception 4
    • Box office 4.1
    • Critical response 4.2
    • Home media 4.3
    • Awards and honors 4.4
  • Music 5
    • Soundtrack 5.1
    • Score 5.2
  • Sequel 6
  • See also 7
  • References 8
  • External links 9


Los Angeles SWAT officers Jack Traven and Harry Temple thwart an attempt by a bomber to hold an elevator full of people for a $3 million ransom. They corner the bomber, but he grabs Harry. Jack shoots Harry in the leg, forcing the bomber to release him. He turns and runs around a corner, apparently dying in an explosion. Jack and Harry are praised by their superior, Lieutenant "Mac" McMahon.

Later, Jack sees a city bus explode. The bomber then contacts him, explaining that a similar bomb is rigged on another bus, and will get activated if it goes over 50 miles per hour (80 km/h) and blow up when the speed drops below 50. The bomber demands a larger ransom of $3.7 million and says he will set off the bomb if any passengers are offloaded. Jack races through traffic and manages to board the moving bus, but by the time he gets on board, it is already going over 50 and the bomb is armed. Jack explains the situation to the driver, Sam, but a panicked small-time criminal on the bus, fearing Jack is going to arrest him, fires his gun, wounding Sam. Another passenger, Annie Porter, takes Sam's place behind the wheel while Jack explains the situation to everyone aboard. Jack examines the bomb under the bus and phones Harry, who uses clues to identify the bomber as a former police officer.

The police clear a route for the bus to a closed-down freeway. Mac insists they offload the passengers onto a pacing flatbed truck, but Jack warns about the bomber's demands. The bomber allows the officers to offload the injured Sam, but detonates an explosive under the bus's front stairs when another passenger attempts to escape; she falls out and is run over. Later, Jack learns that part of the freeway ahead is incomplete, but gets Annie to accelerate the bus and jump the gap. Jack directs Annie to nearby Los Angeles International Airport to drive on the runway. Meanwhile, Harry has identified the bomber as Howard Payne, a retired Atlanta bomb squad officer with a local address, and takes a SWAT team there. However, the house is rigged with explosives, and Harry and the team are killed.

Jack attempts to defuse the bomb while riding on a towed sledge under the bus, but it hits debris on the runway and he can only hold on by puncturing the fuel tank. He is pulled back aboard by the passengers, and learns that Harry has been killed. Enraged, Jack smashes his cell phone, but Annie helps him recover. Jack then realizes that the bomber has been watching the bus the entire time with a hidden camera. Mac gets a local news crew to record a transmission, then rebroadcast it in a continuous loop to fool Howard while the passengers are unloaded onto an airport bus before all the fuel leaks out. The rescue is interrupted by a flat tire, stranding Jack and Annie. To escape, they fix the positions of the gas pedal and the wheel and exit via a floor access panel. The empty bus rams an empty 707 cargo plane and explodes.

Jack and Mac decide to continue the ruse and head to Pershing Square to drop the ransom that Howard demanded. Howard, realizing he has been fooled, poses as a police officer and seizes Annie. When the drop is made into a waste can, no one shows up to take it. Jack discovers a hole under the can leading into the Metro Red Line subway. Jack finds Howard and Annie, but she is wearing a vest covered with explosives and rigged to a pressure-release detonator. Howard hijacks a subway train, handcuffs Annie to a pole, and sets the train in motion. Jack manages to board at the last second. Howard then kills the train driver. Howard attempts a bribe with the ransom money, but is enraged when a paint bomb in the money bag goes off. He and Jack engage in a fight on the roof of the train, which ends when Howard is decapitated by an overhead signal. Jack removes the vest from Annie, but she is still handcuffed to the pole. Since they cannot stop the train, Jack instead sets it for full speed, causing it to derail through a construction site and onto Hollywood Boulevard before coming to a stop. Jack and Annie both survive and kiss passionately as onlookers take pictures.



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


Screenwriter Graham Yost was told by his father, Canadian television host Elwy Yost, about a film called 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 film The Bullet Train. After seeing the Voight film, 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.[3] The film's end was inspired by the end of the 1976 film Silver Streak. The shooting script underwent extensive re-writes by script doctor Joss Whedon. According to Yost: "Joss Whedon wrote 98.9 percent of the dialogue. We were very much in sync, it's just that I didn't write the dialogue as well as he did."[4]


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".[5] Reeves did not like how the Jack Traven character 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."[5] Jan de Bont brought in Joss Whedon a week before principal photography started to work on the script.[6] With Reeves' input, Whedon changed Traven from being "a maverick hotshot" to "the polite guy trying not to get anybody killed,"[6] and removed the character's glib dialogue and made him more earnest.[5] Reeves had dealt with the LAPD before on Point Break, and learned about their concern for human life, which he incorporated into Traven.[5] 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".[6] Whedon worked predominantly on the dialogue, but also created a few significant plot points, like the killing of Harry Temple.[6] 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 comic-relief sidekick to Jack, with Ellen DeGeneres in mind for the part. 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."[7] The director did not want Traven to have long hair and wanted the character "to look strong and in control of himself".[5] 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".[5] Reeves also spent two months at Gold's Gym in Los Angeles to get in shape for the role.[5]


Principal photography began on September 7, 1993 and completed on December 23, 1993 in Los Angeles. De Bont used an 80-foot model of a 50-story elevator shaft for the opening sequence.[8] While Speed was in production, actor and Reeves' close friend River Phoenix died.[5] 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.[5] 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 big pain." Eleven GM New Look buses and three Grumman 870 buses[9] were used in the film's production. 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.[10]

Eleven GM New Look buses were used to represent the bus in the film.

Many of the film's freeway scenes were filmed on California's Interstate 105 and Interstate 110 at the interchange known today as the Judge Harry Pregerson Interchange, 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.[8] 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.[10]

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 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 1/8 scale model of the Metro Red Line, except for the jump when it derailed.[10]

Stunt coordinator Tracy Bunting told Interview Magazine that this was "the most challenging" of her career, in particular the iconic "stroller full of cans" scene.


Box office

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, well above its $30 million production budget.[11]

Critical response

Speed received growing acclaim and currently has a "certified fresh" score of 93% on Rotten Tomatoes based on 60 reviews with an average rating of 7.9 out of 10. The critical consensus states "A terrific popcorn thriller, Speed is taut, tense, and energetic, with outstanding performances from Keanu Reeves, Dennis Hopper, and Sandra Bullock."[12] The film also has a score of 78 out of 100 on Metacritic based on 17 critics indicating "Generally favorable reviews."[13]

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".[14] 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".[15] Hal Hinson, in his review for 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".[16] 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".[17] 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".[18] 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".[19] 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.[20] The magazine also ranked the film eighth on their "The Best Rock-'em, Sock-'em Movies of the Past 25 Years" list.[21] Speed also ranks 451 on Empire magazine's 2008 list of "The 500 Greatest Movies of All Time".[22]

Home media

On November 8, 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 4/3 TV format at the time and in October 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. On November 3, 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.

Awards and honors

In 1995, the film was nominated for three Academy Awards for Best Film Editing (John Wright), Best Sound Editing (Stephen Hunter Flick), and Best Sound Mixing (Gregg Landaker, Steve Maslow, Bob Beemer, David MacMillan), winning the latter two.[23] Wright won the BAFTA Award for Best Editing. Flick and his co-editors Landaker, Maslow, Beemer, and MacMillan won the BAFTA Award for Best Sound .

Sandra Bullock won the Saturn Award for Best Actress and was nominated for three MTV Movie Awards, winning two.

American Film Institute recognition:

1995 MTV Movie Awards recognition:

  • Best Movie (Nominated)
  • Most Desirable Female - Sandra Bullock
  • Best On-Screen Duo - Keanu Reeves and Sandra Bullock
  • Best Villain - Dennis Hopper
  • Best Action Sequence - Bus Escape/Airplane Explosion from "Speed"



A soundtrack album featuring "songs from and inspired by" the film was released on 28 June 1994 with the following tracks[25] The soundtrack was commercially successful in Japan, being certified gold by the RIAJ in 2002.[26]

Speed: Songs From And Inspired By The Motion Picture
No. Title Artist Length
1. "Speed"   Billy Idol  
2. "A Million Miles Away"   The Plimsouls  
3. "Soul Deep"   Gin Blossoms  
4. "Let's Go for a Ride"   Cracker  
5. "Go Outside and Drive"   Blues Traveler  
6. "Crash"   Ric Ocasek  
7. "Rescue Me"   Pat Benatar  
8. "Hard Road"   Rod Stewart  
9. "Cot"   Carnival Strippers  
10. "Cars ('93 Sprint Remix)"   Gary Numan  
11. "Like a Motorway"   Saint Etienne  
12. "Mr. Speed"   Kiss  

Not on the album is actor Dennis Hopper singing a line from Tom Lehrer's satirical 1953 song, "Be Prepared", as he descends into the subway.[27]


In addition to the soundtrack release, a separate album featuring 40 minutes of Mark Mancina's score from the film was released on 30 August 1994.[28] The CD track order does not follow the chronological order of the film's events.

La-La Land Records released a limited expanded version of Mark Mancina's score on 28 February 2012. The newly remastered release features 69:25 of music spread over 32 tracks (in chronological order). In addition, it includes the song "Speed" by Billy Idol.


In 1997, a sequel, Speed 2: Cruise Control, was released. Sandra Bullock agreed to star again as Annie, for financial backing for another project, but Keanu Reeves declined the offer to return as Jack. As a result, Jason Patric was written into the story as Alex Shaw, Annie's new boyfriend, with her and Jack having broken up due to her worry about Jack's dangerous lifestyle. Willem Dafoe starred as the villain John Geiger, and Glenn Plummer (who played Reeves' carjacking victim) also cameos as a boat driver. The film is considered one of the worst sequels of all time, scoring only 3% (based on 64 reviews) on Rotten Tomatoes.[29]

See also


  1. ^ a b "'"IMDB: Box office/business for 'Speed. Retrieved 2011-05-08. 
  2. ^ Leong, Anthony. "Speed Movie Review". Retrieved 2011-05-08. 
  3. ^ Empire - Special Collectors' Edition - The Greatest Action Movies Ever (published in 2001)
  4. ^ O'Hare, Kate (June 6, 2003). "The 'Bus Guy' triumphs". The Post-Star. Retrieved November 5, 2013. 
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i Gerosa, Melina (1994-06-10). "Speed Racer".  
  6. ^ a b c d Kozak, Jim (August–September 2005). Now!"Serenity". In Focus. Retrieved 2009-04-09. 
  7. ^ Svetkey, Benjamin (1994-07-22). "Overdrive".  
  8. ^ a b McCabe, Bob (June 1999). "Speed".  
  9. ^ """1979 Grumman Flxible 870 ADB in "Speed, 1994. Retrieved 2013-04-06. 
  10. ^ a b c  
  11. ^ "Speed". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2008-12-03. 
  12. ^
  13. ^
  14. ^ Ebert, Roger (1994-06-10). "Speed".  
  15. ^ Travers, Peter (1994-06-30). "Speed".  
  16. ^ Hinson, Hal (1994-06-10). "Speed".  
  17. ^ Maslin, Janet (1994-06-10). "An Express Bus in a Very Fast Lane".  
  18. ^ Gleiberman, Owen (1994-06-17). "Speed".  
  19. ^ Schickel, Richard (1994-06-13). "Brain Dead but Not Stupid".  
  20. ^ Gleiberman, Owen (1994-12-30). "The Best & Worst 1994/Movie".  
  21. ^ "The Action 25: The Best Rock-'em, Sock-'em Movies of the Past 25 Years".  
  22. ^ "The 500 Greatest Movies of All Time".  
  23. ^ "The 67th Academy Awards (1995) Nominees and Winners". Retrieved 2011-10-23. 
  24. ^ "AFI's ''100 Years...100 Thrills''" (PDF). Retrieved 2013-04-06. 
  25. ^ "Speed: Songs From And Inspired By The Motion Picture (Soundtrack)". Retrieved May 4, 2011. 
  26. ^ "GOLD ALBUM 他認定作品 2002年2月度" [Gold Albums, and other certified works. February 2002 Edition] (PDF). The Record (Bulletin) (in Japanese) ( 
  27. ^ "'Be prepared'; that's the Boy Scouts' marching song."
  28. ^ "Speed: Original Motion Picture Score (Soundtrack)". Retrieved May 4, 2011. 
  29. ^ "Speed 2 - Cruise Control". Rotten Tomatoes. Flixster. Retrieved 2013-08-04. 

External links

This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from World Library are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.