By Renee Longstreet,
Common Sense Media Reviewer
Common Sense Media Reviewers
Explosive bus ride adventure has violence, language.
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
No positive messages in frenetic action movie.
Positive Role Models
A female character, who is an ordinary citizen, is shown to be brave, capable, and strong. Treatment of ethnic minorities is even-handed and inclusive. Members of the police force treat people well and are unselfish, respectful, and extremely courageous, willing to sacrifice their lives for the welfare of the people they serve.
Violence & Scariness
Opening scene: a knife into the head of a security guard, killing him instantly, followed by scary sequence with bomb in elevator shaft. More bloody action follows, including a bus explosion with driver inside, a woman falling to her death under a bus, hostages shown with dynamite strapped to their bodies, a house blown up with several police officers inside, an on-camera decapitation, a plane exploding, and multiple hand-to-hand fighting scenes. Lead characters are frequently in life-and-death situations, some of which end badly. Bus driver shot and injured. Subway conductor shot and killed. Bad guy uses automatic weapons.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
While getting lifted out of an elevator on verge of falling down the shaft, a woman's skirt rises, briefly exposing buttocks in pantyhose. While drunk in a bar, a lead character announces that he's going home to have sex. Lead characters talk about how they will have to "base [their relationship] on sex then." Reference to masturbation. Reference to ejaculation. Kissing.
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Profanity regularly used. "F--k" used several times. Also "bulls--t," "s--t," "pr--k," "a--hole," "goddamn," "pissed," "balls," "hard-on," "cajones."
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Products & Purchases
Miller Lite bottles clearly shown in bar.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Police officers celebrate in a bar after an awards ceremony and drink beer. One lead character shown drunk. Cigarette smoking.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Speed is a 1994 action movie in which Keanu Reeves plays an LAPD officer who must prevent a bus from blowing up by explosives wired to explode if the bus goes less than 50 mph. This movie is filled with violent images: a fatal stabbing to the head; a decapitation; a bomb activated in a house, which kills several people, including one of the heroes; an elevator plunging 40 floors; a bus explosion with the driver trapped inside; hostages with dynamite strapped to their bodies; and a woman killed when she falls under a bus. It has frequent car crashes and peril involving vehicles on the freeways and city streets of Los Angeles. Profanity is used throughout, including "f--k" several times, plus there are some sexual jokes and references. One of the lead characters gets drunk in a bar. Very brief partial nudity appears when a woman's skirt hikes up as she's lifted out of an elevator before it falls down the shaft.
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What's the Story?
In SPEED, two police officers from LAPD's bomb squad prevent a madman (Dennis Hopper) from ransoming an elevator full of people for millions of dollars. The maniacal criminal plants another bomb on a Los Angeles city bus to get even with the policemen and to try to extort the money again. Officer Jack Traven (Keanu Reeves), aided by Annie Porter, one of the bus's passengers (Sandra Bullock), has to keep the bus moving faster than 50 mph or the bomb will go off. The speeding bus careens through the city, encountering one perilously dangerous situation after another.
Is It Any Good?
For action lovers, Speed delivers. There are sensational crashes, thunderous explosions, vicious hand-to-hand combat sequences, valiant maneuvers aboard a bus, on top of a moving train, in an elevator shaft ... nonstop suspense-filled feats of bravery to combat the nonstop evil of a brilliant, but unhinged, villain.
This is Keanu Reeves's first "action hero" role, and he does just fine. It's the movie that made Sandra Bullock a star, and she's as adorable as she should be. As for Dennis Hopper, no one takes more pleasure in playing the psychotic misfit. The good guys (and gal) are very, very good. The bad guy is horrid. However, nothing in this film resembles reality. True-to-life events and authentic relationships are in short supply.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about how Speed resembles a cartoon or a superhero movie. Do you think anyone could really do all the things that Officer Jack Traven does? How believable are the events in this movie? How believable are the characters? Do you think the moviemakers are trying to tell a real story, or make a fantastical movie that is simply fun to watch?
How is Speed similar to and different from other action movies, especially action movies from the 1990s?
What did you think of the violence here? Was it too little, too much, or just enough? Why?
- In theaters: June 10, 1994
- On DVD or streaming: February 1, 2005
- Cast: Dennis Hopper, Keanu Reeves, Sandra Bullock
- Director: Jan De Bont
- Inclusion Information: Polynesian/Pacific Islander actors
- Studio: Twentieth Century Fox
- Genre: Action/Adventure
- Run time: 116 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: for violence and language
- Last updated: April 22, 2023
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