top of page
Lifts in Film Logo

Speed (1994)

Updated: May 11

A young police officer must prevent a bomb exploding aboard a city bus by keeping its speed above 50 mph.


  • The opening credits sequence descending down an elevator shaft was created with a thirty-five-foot miniature laying horizontally.

  • The medal Jack and Harry receive for rescuing the elevator passengers is the Medal of Valor, the highest award given by the Los Angeles Police Department.

  • The elevator shaft set was built with four fully-functioning elevators, and was five stories high.

  • Jan De Bont helped shape the elevator scene based, in part, on his own experience being stuck in an elevator while filming Die Hard at the Fox Plaza building in Los Angeles. They were stuck hanging at the 40th floor and had to be rescued by the fire department through the rooftop hatch.

  • When Jack and Harry find Howard in the freight elevator, and Jack says, "Will the mystery guest please sign in", he is quoting What's My Line? (1950).

  • Payne saying "Don't f*** with daddy!" when he blows the elevator's emergency brake is a nod to Dennis Hopper's earlier movie Blue Velvet (1986) which he played the movie's main antagonist Frank Booth, which in a scene from that movie, his character tells Isabella Rossellini's character Dorothy to call him daddy, not baby.

  • There is a real person named Howard Payne who works on elevators; he and another guy named Deviant Ollam run a firm called The Core Group.

Source: IMDB

Continuity errors

  • Upon pulling the first passenger - the blonde woman - from the elevator, the following passenger - the brunette - can be seen sliding entirely out of the elevator all by herself. Yet, in the next shot, we have a backside angle of her being helped out by Travers.

  • Skid marks are already visible on the tarmac when Jack and Harry turn up at the building where the bombed elevator is.

  • When the elevator free falls and the floor opens, all the shots from below, with or without the woman falling through the hole, show the elevator is empty.

  • When Jack and Harry are pulling people out of the elevator there are two men offering to help the stubborn lady out of the elevator. 2 seconds later there is only one man jumping to get out.

  • Payne picks 46 because, as we see, it's the top floor and Jack will have to get off the roof or be crushed. But a little later, we see from a label on the elevator monitor board that the other police are watching that this elevator's top floor is 52. Possible explanation: to save on multiple tooling costs at the factory, sometimes different elevators may use a "standard" manufactured panel or other part that allows for more possibilities and/or other features that a less "deluxe" elevator model made by the same company might not have. So it's possible that this elevator was smaller (fewer floors) than another elevator that the manufacturer makes, but they just used the bigger panel for this one.

  • When Jack and Harry are rescuing the people from the elevator, at one point there are clearly four people in the elevator; two men and two women. A woman gets out and then only one man and one woman are left in the elevator.

  • When Dennis Hopper psyches the police chief out by making him think he's on the third floor, the elevator clicks one too many times. The camera shows the numbers: "5, click, 4, click" then it switches to the police chief, during which time you hear another click. It then switches back to the numbers: "3, click." Shouldn't it be on floor 2?

  • In the elevator scene, when Jack is on top of the elevator, Payne sends the elevator to floor 46 from floor 28, but a second later when Jack looks up at the camera, if you look very closely, you can see he is on floor 15...16...17..., but he's supposed to go up from 28 to 46.

  • At the beginning, when the employees are getting into the elevator, there is a close view of the man at the front pushing the button with his finger, but when it cuts to a wider shot, he is taking his thumb away from the button, instead of his finger.

  • When Howard Payne is in the elevator, he hears Jack and Harry doing something from above, and he reaches for his bomb trigger. In slow motion when he's picking it up, it has two buttons on it, yet when Howard pushes one of the buttons, the device now has three.

  • When Howard Payne gets off the elevator with Harry held hostage, Jack walks off the elevator and there is a light on the wall that Jack passes twice and/or turns the small corner twice.

  • During the opening lift (elevator) sequence, as the roof crane gives way under the strain of the falling lift, the vertical and horizontal components of the crane are seen separating but subsequent shots show the complete assembly crashing through the air vent and catching against the steel beam.

  • When Jack pulls the last passenger from the elevator, she is wearing shoes on both her feet, however when the passengers are being escorted away, her right shoe is missing.

  • After the elevator starts from floor 46, we see it from below; the motion of its counterweight, in the foreground, lets us easily see that the speed is somewhat more than one floor per second. The next shot is inside the elevator, where the floor indicator is changing at about half that rate, slower than one floor per second.

  • The elevator is at or below floor 41 when the first bomb explodes. In a view from above, we see it fall about 12 floors, without sparks. We then see the emergency brakes engage, with lots of sparks. But then an interior shot then shows the elevator passing 35, and indeed, after sliding past several more floors it stops between 29 and 30.

  • When the passengers are being rescued as the crane that pulls off the roof is wedged near the top of the elevator shaft, the elevator is at floor 23. The roof access is at 53, so there are about 30 floors of cable extended from the crane. But when crane and elevator fall together, as seen inside the elevator shaft, they are only about 15 floors apart, and the cable is only a little bit slack.

  • Before Jack and Harry get to Payne's elevator, it's at floor 20. But just Payne keys in 46 as his next destination, his indicator shows 28.

  • When Jack is lowered to the fallen elevator, he uses a hook to hold the elevator and as we see that, the hook is facing right, however when the emergency brakes are blown up and the elevator falls, the hook is facing left.

  • When Jack and Harry first inspect the elevator bomb, they enter through the 32nd floor access panel, but the sign inside the elevator shaft above the access panel says 42.

  • In the first part of the movie, it appears that the building is approximately 53 floors high, we can see this as when Keanu Reeves and Jeff Daniels go to the roof the label on the door is "ROOF/53". However, the service elevator seems to reach the top of the shaft after Dennis Hopper enters level 46 on the control panel. This is rather unfortunate, especially as the security console says that the elevator "serves floors GE-52". I wouldn't like to be in the elevator as it tries to go past level 46 to a higher floor such as 52.

Source: IMDB

Factual errors

  • Elevators' emergency brakes must engage faster than that, otherwise they would be useless if the car fell when nearer the base of the shaft.

  • Firing a shotgun multiple times in a closed elevator would cause severe and permanent hearing damage.

  • When Payne is shooting his shotgun at the ceiling of the elevator, he fires 8 times before running out. Most shotguns hold a maximum of 5 shells without some kind of magazine, which Payne's shotgun clearly doesn't have.

It makes no sense for the elevator cables to keep giving way as passengers are being pulled out of it, especially when at least eight people are rescued before it drops, allowing for at least 1000 lbs of weight to be removed from the stress on the cables.

Source: IMDB

Revealing mistakes

  • When the elderly woman refuses to be helped out of the elevator that is about to drop twenty floors, the floor outside the elevator can be seen through a hole in the bottom left hand corner of the elevator, revealing the fact that it is only one or, at most, two floors up.

  • In one of the quick scenes of the elevator falling, you see that there's no one in the elevator, through a hole in the floor. However, in the next shot the elevator is overcrowded with people again.

  • Jack and Harry run up 32 flights of stairs to arrive at the booby-trapped elevator, and they're not even breathing hard.

Source: IMDB

Miscellaneous goofs

  • The impact of the falling elevator to the bottom floor causes the passengers rescued from it to run away in fear. However, those passengers were 20 floors up, so the sound of the falling elevator hitting the bottom that far below would at best have been a faint noise.

Source: IMDB

Audio/visual unsynchronised goofs

  • Extra beep of elevator passing a floor.

Source: IMDB

Plot holes

  • At the award banquet they say the perpetrator of the elevator scheme is dead. How could they possibly know this without a body?

  • After the elevator passengers are rescued, and prior to Howard appearing to blow himself up, both Jack and Harry get a good look at the bomber. Later in the movie they are only discovering that he is a former police officer and locating his address. This should have been uncovered after the elevator incident and they would have already known his address.

Source: IMDB

Character error

  • During the medal awarding ceremony, the MC states that the only life taken by the terrorist's bomb was his own. While this is technically accurate, it disregards the death of the guard Payne stabs in the head before the first elevator bomb goes off.

  • The SWAT team members are all without any helmets when they respond to the elevator-hostage crisis.

Source: IMDB

Elevator scene from Speed (1994)
Elevator scene from Speed (1994)


Swat Cop: Anything else that'll keep this elevator from falling?
Jack: Yeah. The basement.

[after the elevator falls]

Young Executive: Jesus. Bob, what button did you push?
Jack: How much you think that elevator weights?
Howard Payne: You think I wouldn't have been prepared? Two years I spent setting up that elevator job, two years I invested in it. You couldn't understand the kind of commitment that I have. You ruined a man's life's work and you think you can walk away? You got blinders on to the world! But I got your attention now, didn't I Jack?
Jack: Elevator dropped.
Harry Temple: The elevators.
Jack: The passenger cars were stopped. They checked 'em out.
Harry Temple: What about the freight elevators?
Lt. Herb "Mac" McMahon: Alright gentlemen, what we have here is 13 passengers in a express elevator. Below floor 30. Bomber's already taken out cables, bomber wants $3 million or he blows the emergency brakes.
Harry Temple: What's our clock?
Norwood: He gave one hour. That leaves us twenty-three minutes exactly.
Swat Cop: Anything else that will keep this elevator from falling?
Jack: Yeah, the basement.
Lt. Herb "Mac" McMahon: The city would like to avoid that event, Officer Traven.
Harry Temple: We can't just unload the passengers?
Lt. Herb "Mac" McMahon: This is an express elevator gentlemen. The only way in or out is through access panels. Bomber's also wired the hatch to trigger the bomb, which seats him in the crazy-but-not-stupid section.

[after five minutes worth of screaming from the armed elevator]

Norwood: Usually they fall down now.
Young Executive: [Bob pushes elevator button that has already been pushed] Thanks for pushing that, Bob. The light's on but you never know, it really might be broken.

Source: IMDB

Speed (1994) Movie Poster
Speed (1994) Movie Poster


  • Jan de Bont


  • Graham Yost


  • Keanu Reeves as Officer Jack Traven

  • Dennis Hopper as Howard Payne

  • Sandra Bullock as Annie Porter

  • Joe Morton as Lieutenant Herb 'Mac' McMahon

  • Jeff Daniels as Detective Harry Temple

  • Alan Ruck as Doug Stephens

  • Glenn Plummer as Maurice

  • Beth Grant as Helen

  • Hawthorne James as Sam Silver

  • Carlos Carrasco as Ortiz

  • David Kriegel as Terry

  • Natsuko Ohama as Mrs. Kamino

  • Daniel Villarreal as Ray

  • Margaret Medina as Officer Robin

  • Jordan Lund as Bagwell

  • Robert Mailhouse as Young Executive

  • Patrick Fischler as Friend of executive

  • Patrick John Hurley as CEO

  • Susan Barnes as Female Executive

  • Neisha Folkes-LeMelle as Mrs. McMahon

  • Richard Lineback as Sergeant Norwood

  • Beau Starr as Commissioner

  • Richard Schiff as Train Driver

  • John Capodice as Bob

  • Thomas Rosales Jr. as Vinnie

  • Sandy Martin as Bartender

Sources: IMDB & WIKI


Related Posts

See All


bottom of page