"Pop quiz, Hotshot. There’s a bomb on a bus. Once the bus goes 50 miles an hour, the bomb is armed. If it drops below 50, it blows up. What do you do? What do you do?”
Description: Dennis Hopper as Howard Payne, psychotic bomber alerts LAPD police officer Jack Traven (Keanu Reeves) about an impending explosion in the motion picture Speed (1994).
Howard Payne, a former member of the Atlanta Police Department Bomb Squad, was forced to retire when he lost two fingers in an explosion. He moves to Sun Valley, and then one day he decides to use his expertise with bombs to extort $3.7 million dollars by trapping 13 people in an elevator in a Los Angeles high rise and threatening to explode a bomb unless he receives his ransom money.
Luckily, SWAT Officer Jack Taven and his partner Harry Temple (Jeff Daniels) foil Howard's plans and extract the passengers from the elevator before it crashes into the basement. The officers pursue Howard but he takes Harry hostage. Jack shoots Harry in the leg (per training protocols) and Howard abandons his hostage. As he flees, the explosive-laden vest worn by Howard explodes. The police officers survive the massive explosion and Harry is put on desk duty until his leg heals. As for the bomber, the officers believe he was incinerated in the explosion and they close the case.
Some time later, Officer Jack Traven witnesses a city bus blow up. Shortly after the explosion, Jack answers a telephone call and discovers that Howard is still alive and this time he has another demand. Pay him $3.7 Million (the same amount he was denied in the original bombing) or he will kill a bus load of passengers currently riding on a city bus (No. 2525).
Howard knows that the bus is heading for the freeway, so he placed a bomb beneath the bus that will activate when the bus reaches 50 miles and hour. To make sure that Jack did not try to interfere with his plans, he warns, “Jack, nothing tricky now. You know I'm on top of you! DO NOT attempt to grow a brain!” Just follow his instructions and no one would get hurt. But Jack knows he can't trust the man.
"There are rules, Jack. I want you to get this right. No one goes off the bus. You try to take any passengers off the bus...I will detonate it." - Howard Payne
Jack manages to get on the bus, but before he has a chance to explain the situation, the bus driver exceeds 50 mph and the bomb beneath the bus is activated. To make things worse, when Jack boards the bus, a man fearing the policeman was looking for him, pulls out a gun and a bullet discharges, wounding the bus driver. A young woman named Annie (Sandra Bullock) takes the wheel and becomes the bus's reluctant driver.
After a harrowing ride through city streets, and freeways the passengers are rescued and the runaway bus crashes into a plane at the airport tarmac. The ride was not without its tragedies. When one frantic woman tried to leave the bus, Howard (who had been monitoring the interior of the bus via a video camera) detonated a smaller bomb he had planted which threw the woman under the wheels of the bus.
When Jack realized he was being monitored, he arranges to have a video loop installed so Howard would not see their attempts to get the passengers off the bus. As Jack tries to dismantle the bomb under the speeding bus, an Hispanic passenger named Ortiz (Carlos Carrasco) says, “You’re not too bright, man, but you got some big, round, hairy cojones.”
As Jack, Annie and the rest of the hostages on the bus struggle to survive, officer Harry Temple finally identifies the bomber and leads a SWAT team to Harry's house, but as they enter, the house explodes and kills the SWAT team, including Jack's partner.
|Jack:||You're crazy! You're fuckin' crazy!|
|Howard:||NO! Poor people are crazy, Jack. I'm eccentric.|
Eventually, the police extract the passengers from the moving bus before it explodes. Using the fact that Howard still thinks the bus is still moving, the city agrees to the ransom and Howard instructs the police to drop the money in a trash can located on the street.
The police place the money as instructed and Jack Traven and Annie sit back and wait for Howard to surface. But, what the police do not know, is that Howard had cut a hole in the bottom of the trash can and has already removed the money from under the street. Howard also observed Annie in the area and realized there was a trap in the making. As a backup plan, Howard, disguised as a police officer, kidnaps Annie, straps her into a vest fitted with explosives and escapes into the subway.
The police detect the money is on the move (via a GPS location chip stashed in the money) and Jack Traven is soon in hot pursuit. He catches up Annie but Howard threatens to trigger her explosives. Jack tells Howard to just take the money and go, but leave Annie behind. He refuses, then commandeers a subway car, chases out the passengers and handcuffs Annie to a pole. As the subway car takes off, Howard kills the conductor, but not before Jack jumps onto the roof of the subway car as is moves from the station.
Inside the subway car, Howard opens the money bag to admire his ill-gotten loot, but a dye pack placed by the police explodes and ruins the money. Infuriated, Howard climbs atop the subway car to kill Jack and get revenge.
As the subway car rushes through the tunnel, Jack manages to retrieve the trigger that controls the explosives on Annie's vest, as well as decapitate Howard by forcing his head in to an overhanging signal light. When Jack enters the subway car, Annie asks, "Where's Payne." Jack replies, "He lost his head."
With the conductor dead and the car out of control, Jack speeds up the train in hopes of derailing it on an upcoming curve and thus prevent a head on crash. The plan succeeds, and the subway cars fall off the track, and slides out of the tunnel onto Hollywood Boulevard, where a crowd of astonished onlookers watch as Jack and Annie celebrate their luck by kissing each other.
Note: During the SWAT training exercises, officers Traven and Harry Temple would play a game called "Pop Quiz" to sharpen their thinking process.
- “All right, pop quiz. Airport. Gunman with one hostage. He’s using her for cover; he’s almost to a plane. You’re a hundred feet away. Jack?" - Harry [to Jack]. Jack’s replies, “Shoot the hostage!”
- “Pop quiz, asshole. You have a hair trigger aimed at your head. What do you do?" -Jack [to Howard]