Speed (1994 film)
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Jan de Bont|
|Produced by||Mark Gordon|
|Written by||Graham Yost
Joss Whedon (uncredited)
|Music by||Mark Mancina|
|Edited by||John Wright|
Mark Gordon Productions
|Distributed by||20th Century Fox|
|Box office||$350.4 million|
Speed is a 1994 American action thriller 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. It became 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 an LAPD cop who tries to rescue civilians on a city bus rigged with a bomb programmed to explode if the bus slows down.
A sequel called Speed 2: Cruise Control was released in June 1997.
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 as 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.
The next day, 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 mph. The bomber demands a larger ransom of $3.7 million and threatens to detonate the bus if passengers are offloaded. Jack races through traffic and manages to board the bus, but it has already gone over 50 mph. Jack explains the situation to the driver Sam, but a panicked small-time criminal on the bus 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 the unopened 105 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. Jack learns that part of the freeway ahead is incomplete, but forces 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 explodes, killing Harry and his team.
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. After being pulled back aboard by the passengers, Jack learns that Harry has been killed and that Payne 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 bus suffers a flat tire, allowing Jack and Annie to escape via a floor access panel. The empty bus runs out of fuel, causing its speed to drop below 50 mph and explode as it reaches an empty 707 cargo plane.
Jack and Mac continue the ruse and head to Pershing Square to drop the ransom. Realizing he has been fooled, Howard 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 while Jack pursues them. After killing 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. 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 while onlookers take pictures.
- Keanu Reeves as Officer Jack Traven
- Dennis Hopper as Howard Payne
- Sandra Bullock as Annie Porter
- Jeff Daniels as Officer Harry Temple
- Joe Morton as Lt. "Mac" McMahon
- Alan Ruck as Doug Stephens
- Glenn Plummer as Jaguar owner
- Richard Lineback as Sgt. Norwood
- Beth Grant as Helen
- Hawthorne James as Sam
- Richard Schiff as Train Driver
- Carlos Carrasco as Ortiz
- David Kriegel as Terry
- Natsuko Ohama as Mrs. Kamino
- Daniel Villarreal as Ray
- Patrick Fischler as Friend of Executive
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. 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."
Upon finishing the script Yost took his idea to Paramount Pictures, who expressed interest in green-lighting the film, with John McTiernan directing, but he eventually declined to do so, feeling the script was too much of a Die Hard retread, and suggested Jan De Bont as director as he was the director of photography for two McTiernan blockbusters, Die Hard and The Hunt for Red October. De Bont agreed to direct because of his experience with photographing action pictures but Paramount passed on the project feeling audiences would not want to see a movie which takes place for two hours on a bus. De Bont then and Yost then took the project to 20th Century Fox who also distributed Die Hard and they agreed to green-light the project on the condition there were other action sequences in the film other than the bus. De Bont then suggested starting the film off with the bomb on an elevator in an office building, as he had an experience of being trapped in an elevator while working on Die Hard. Yost then decided to conclude the film on a subway train to have a final plot twist not involving the action on the bus. Fox then immediately approved the project.
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". 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." Jan de Bont brought in Joss Whedon a week before principal photography started to work on the script. With Reeves' input, Whedon changed Traven from being "a maverick hotshot" to "the polite guy trying not to get anybody killed," and removed the character's glib dialogue and made him more earnest. Reeves had dealt with the LAPD before on Point Break, and learned about their concern for human life, which he incorporated into Traven. 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". Whedon worked predominantly on the dialogue, but also created a few significant plot points, like the killing of Harry Temple. 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." The director did not want Traven to have long hair and wanted the character "to look strong and in control of himself". 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". Reeves also spent two months at Gold's Gym in Los Angeles to get in shape for the role.
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. While Speed was in production, actor and Reeves's close friend River Phoenix died. 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. 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 in which 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. Eleven GM New Look buses and three Grumman 870 buses 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.
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. 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.
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.
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.
The MD520N helicopter used throughout the film, registration N599DB, Serial LN024, was sold to the Calgary Police Service and was used for years after the death of Cst. Rick Sonnenberg in October 1993 The aircraft was named HAWCS-1 for Helicopter Air Watch for Community Safety. The aircraft was given the Canadian registration C-FCPS (for Calgary Police Service) and was in use until 2006, when it was replaced and sold to a private owner.
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.
Speed received critical 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." The film also has a score of 78 out of 100 on Metacritic based on 17 critics indicating "Generally favorable 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". 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". 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". 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".
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. 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.
American Film Institute recognition:
- 100 Years...100 Thrills: #99
- 100 Years...100 Heroes and Villains: Jack Traven & Annie Porter - Nominated Heroes
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 The soundtrack was commercially successful in Japan, being certified gold by the RIAJ in 2002.
|Speed: Songs From And Inspired By The Motion Picture|
|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|
|7.||"Rescue Me"||Pat Benatar|
|8.||"Hard Road"||Rod Stewart|
|10.||"Cars ('93 Sprint Remix)"||Gary Numan|
|11.||"Like a Motorway"||Saint Etienne|
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. 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 the same character, this time driving a boat that Alex takes control of. The film is considered one of the worst sequels of all time, scoring only 3% (based on 64 reviews) on Rotten Tomatoes.
- MythBusters (2009 season), which tested the reality of the iconic bus jump in the film
- "IMDB: Box office/business for 'Speed'". Retrieved 2011-05-08.
- Leong, Anthony. "Speed Movie Review". Retrieved 2011-05-08.
- Empire - Special Collectors' Edition - The Greatest Action Movies Ever (published in 2001)
- O'Hare, Kate (June 6, 2003). "The 'Bus Guy' triumphs". The Post-Star. Retrieved November 5, 2013.
- Gerosa, Melina (1994-06-10). "Speed Racer". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 2009-04-09.
- Kozak, Jim (August–September 2005). "Serenity Now!". In Focus. Retrieved 2009-04-09.
- Svetkey, Benjamin (1994-07-22). "Overdrive". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 2009-04-09.
- McCabe, Bob (June 1999). "Speed". Empire. p. 121.
- "1979 Grumman Flxible 870 ADB in "Speed, 1994"". IMCDb.org. Retrieved 2013-04-06.
- Dennis Hopper (host) (1994). The Making of 'Speed' (Documentary). 20th Century Fox.
- "Speed". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2008-12-03.
- Ebert, Roger (1994-06-10). "Speed". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved 2008-12-03.
- Travers, Peter (1994-06-30). "Speed". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 2008-12-03.
- Hinson, Hal (1994-06-10). "Speed". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2008-12-03.
- Maslin, Janet (1994-06-10). "An Express Bus in a Very Fast Lane". The New York Times. Retrieved 2008-12-03.
- Gleiberman, Owen (1994-06-17). "Speed". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 2009-04-09.
- Schickel, Richard (1994-06-13). "Brain Dead but Not Stupid". Time. Retrieved 2009-04-09.
- Gleiberman, Owen (1994-12-30). "The Best & Worst 1994/Movie". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 2009-04-09.
- "The Action 25: The Best Rock-'em, Sock-'em Movies of the Past 25 Years". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 2009-04-09.
- "The 500 Greatest Movies of All Time". Empire. Retrieved 2009-04-09.
- "The 67th Academy Awards (1995) Nominees and Winners". oscars.org. Retrieved 2011-10-23.
- "AFI's ''100 Years...100 Thrills''" (PDF). Retrieved 2013-04-06.
- "Speed: Songs From And Inspired By The Motion Picture (Soundtrack)". Retrieved May 4, 2011.
- "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). Chūō, Tokyo: Recording Industry Association of Japan. 509: 13. April 10, 2002. Archived from the original (PDF) on January 17, 2014. Retrieved January 22, 2014.
- "'Be prepared'; that's the Boy Scouts' marching song."
- "Speed: Original Motion Picture Score (Soundtrack)". Retrieved May 4, 2011.
- "Speed 2 - Cruise Control". Rotten Tomatoes. Flixster. Retrieved 2013-08-04.
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