Speed

Movie review by
Renee Schonfeld, Common Sense Media
Speed Movie Poster Image
Popular with kidsParents recommend
Explosive bus ride for mature action lovers.
  • R
  • 1994
  • 116 minutes

Parents say

age 14+
Based on 14 reviews

Kids say

age 12+
Based on 42 reviews

Did this review miss something on diversity?

Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive, diverse representations in books, TV shows, and movies. Want to help us help them? Suggest a diversity update

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

No positive messages in frenetic action movie. 

Positive Role Models & Representations

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

(Warning: Spoilers.) Opening scene: a knife into the head of a security guard, killing him instantly, followed by a scary sequence with a bomb in an elevator shaft. More bloody action follows, including: a bus explosion with driver inside, 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. Leading 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. 

Sex

While getting lifted out of an elevator on the verge of falling down the shaft, a woman's skirt rises, briefly exposing buttocks in pantyhose. While drunk in a bar, one of the lead characters announced that he is 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. 

Language

Profanity regularly used. "F--k" used several times. Also: "Bulls--t," "s--t," "pr--k," "a--hole," "goddamn," "pissed," "balls," "hard-on," "cajones." 

Consumerism

Miller Lite bottles clearly shown in bar. 

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Police officers celebrate in a bar after an awards ceremony and drink beer. One of the lead characters shown drunk. Cigarette smoking. 

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Speed is a 1994 action movie in which Keanu Reaves 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 forty 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. Frequent car crashes and peril involving vehicles on the freeways and city streets of Los Angeles. Profanity throughout, including "f--k" used several times. Some sexual jokes and references.. One of the lead characters gets drunk in a bar. Very brief partial nudity as a woman's skirt hikes up as she is lifted out of an elevator on the verge of falling down the shaft. 

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byKetchupIsTrash May 14, 2020

Fun and Intense

It’s a fun movie, but there are three issues parents need to be aware of, beyond language (very minor spoilers):

1. In the beginning, when people are being rem... Continue reading
Adult Written byRichManGold December 20, 2020
Teen, 13 years old Written byTom Cruise Fan November 9, 2014

"Speed" movie review

If someone asks me what "Speed" is, I would tell them it is "Die Hard on a bus". That's what it basically is. "Speed" is one... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byDOGEsoSWAG April 2, 2021

The Bottle Episode That is Amazing!

Somehow they made a movie that takes place on a bus for 85% of the film and still turns out awesome. Not too much violence besides a graphic head stab. There is... Continue reading

What's the story?

Two police officers from L.A.P.D.'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 and 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? What other movies have you seen that fit into this category?

  • How is Speed similar and different from other action movies, especially action movies from the 1990's? 

  • How did the violence in this movie compare to the violence in other action movies? 

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love Action

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

See how we rate

Streaming options powered by JustWatch

About these links

Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization, earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes when you use our links to make a purchase. Thank you for your support.

Read more

Our ratings are based on child development best practices. We display the minimum age for which content is developmentally appropriate. The star rating reflects overall quality.

Learn how we rate