Jump to: Spoilers (25)
Keanu Reeves breaking the glass on the bus door in the beginning of the movie was an accident, however it was left in the final cut.
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A Fox producer realized they might have a hit movie on their hands when he noticed that, during test screenings, audience members would walk backwards when they needed to go to the bathroom, so they would miss as little as possible.
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Sandra Bullock actually learned to drive a bus for the film, passing her test on her first attempt.
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The scene in which Annie (Sandra Bullock) takes the chewing gum out of her mouth and pretends to put it on her seat in order to have an excuse to change seats and move away from the obnoxious Stephens was improvised by Bullock.
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There was an instance where a schoolboy saved the lives of a schoolbus full of kids, when the driver had a heart attack, by climbing on to the driver's lap, jumping on the brake pedal and pulling the bus to the side of the road. When asked later why he did it, he told them that he had seen "that bus movie". At half-time during an NFL game, there was a ceremony hailing the boy as a hero.
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Jan de Bont insisted that Keanu Reeves get a sensible haircut as would befit a hard-working cop. 20th Century Fox were horrified when they saw the buzzcut that he adopted for the film, threatening to postpone the film to allow his hair to grow back.
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The bus jump scene was not in the original script, director Jan de Bont came up with the idea one day when he was driving around Los Angeles, and noticed one section of I-105 was missing.
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Keanu Reeves initially turned down the lead, as he found Graham Yost's original script to be too much like Die Hard (1988). He signed on after Jan de Bont brought in Joss Whedon to re-write the script.
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Keanu Reeves did approximately ninety percent of his own stunts.
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Ten buses were used in the making of the film. Each one had two steering wheels, one for Sandra Bullock, the other for the stunt driver, which was more often than not, on the roof of the bus.
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Joss Whedon re-wrote the script uncredited. According to Graham Yost, the credited writer, Whedon wrote most of its dialogue.
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The bus jump scene was done twice, as the bus landed too smoothly the first time. The bridge was actually there, but erased digitally.
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The film literally ran out of money before it was completed. When the film was first previewed for an audience, the subway scenes were animated storyboards. The audience loved them so much, the studio came up with the funds to shoot the scenes properly.
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The watch Jack was wearing, the Casio G-Shock DW-5600C, had been discontinued when filming commenced. Due to the film's success, the watch was in popular demand, and the company started making them again.
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The script was pitched to Paramount Studios, which placed the movie in turnaround. They suggested to Graham Yost that his script, which called for the movie to end after everyone gets off the bus, had "too much bus" in it, implying that audiences would not go for a movie in which a bus is driving around for two hours. Yost then added the subway scenes, and the modified script was presented to 20th Century Fox, which agreed to film the movie.
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Jan de Bont cast Keanu Reeves as Jack Traven after seeing him in Point Break (1991). 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."
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Renny Harlin and Quentin Tarantino were offered the chance to direct, but turned it down. Tarantino later named the film as one of his twenty favorite films since 1992.
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For the bus jump sequence, a ramp was built. The bus was started from about one mile back, and accelerated towards the ramp. By the time it hit the ramp, it had reached a speed of 61 miles per hour. It traveled 109 feet, and its front wheels reached an altitude of twenty feet off the ground, which was higher than anyone had anticipated. Because of this, the cameras were not placed correctly, and the top front part of the bus goes out of the frame when the bus reaches the maximum point of the jump.
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Jan de Bont cast Dennis Hopper because he didn't want a typical villain. He wanted Payne to be a regular guy who just snapped one day.
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A special bus was used for the bus jump scene. This bus was modified so that it could reach a speed of seventy miles per hour, and it was equipped with powerful shock absorbers. The driver's seat was moved back fifteen feet, so that if something went wrong, the driver wasn't ejected from the bus. The seat itself was a suspension mechanism between the ceiling and the bus floor to prevent the driver from suffering spinal compression on impact.
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The shot when the bus enters LAX, and a plane is seen taking off right behind it, took more than fifty takes.
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20th Century Fox were not convinced, to begin with, that Keanu Reeves had enough star clout to front the film, and insisted on a big name actress to star alongside him. Jan de Bont refused. Fox relented to his casting of Sandra Bullock with Reeves only two weeks before shooting began.
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I-105 had recently been completed, but not opened at the time of production. The filmmakers were given all the time they needed to complete the freeway scenes, without the hassle of closing down an operating major freeway.
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The film was released one week before O.J. Simpson led Los Angeles police on a chase in his white Bronco after he was suspected of murder. After the Bronco chase, many audiences who saw the film in theaters noticed how closely scenes from the film resembled the real-life Bronco chase, including media coverage and aerial shots of Los Angeles freeways.
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For the bus jump sequence, the city of Los Angeles gave permission to shoot on I-105 during the last month of its construction. This required the filming crew to be constantly on the move, depending on the location of the workers. It also created continuity problems, because the appearance of the set kept changing, as the construction crews would erect or tear down structures.
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In early drafts of the script, the bus was supposed to circle around the parking lot of Dodgers Stadium, as opposed to LAX. However, the studio couldn't get the rights to film there.
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John McTiernan turned down the director job. Eventually, it was decided that a newcomer should direct, and the producers picked Jan de Bont, who had been in charge of cinematography for Die Hard (1988) and The Hunt for Red October (1990), two movies directed by McTiernan.
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The film was originally written with the intention that Jeff Bridges would play Jack, and Ellen DeGeneres would play Annie. DeGeneres was considered because the role of Annie was going to be a comedic role, in contrast with the serious role of Jack. DeGeneres denied being considered for the role in a 2015 Howard Stern interview.
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The plane cost eighty thousand dollars.
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Voted one of AFI's Top 100 Heart-Pounding Movies of all time: number 99.
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Filming at the airport took around three weeks, and was made slightly difficult when a plane's engine was being tested, and it was extremely noisy.
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Although it was not part of the original screenplay, Keanu Reeves and Jan de Bont both agreed that miming gum chewing was an ingenious way to foreshadow Jack Traven's "gut feelings," thus exposing his thought processes to the audience. This revelation occurred after Keanu casually ad libbed this into one of the scene takes.
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The picture on Harry's desk is that of Jan de Bont's wife Trish.
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Glenn Plummer's driver's license was taken away two days before his scene was scheduled to be filmed.
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The birds flying through the gap in the freeway were digitally added visual effects.
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Whenever a highway scene needed to be re-shot, all the cars had to return to a starting mark. Jan de Bont said, "It was a logistical nightmare."
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Keanu Reeves spent two months at Gold's Gym in Los Angeles to get in shape for the film.
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Various actors were offered the role of Jack and reportedly turned it down: Stephen Baldwin, William Baldwin, Jeff Bridges, Kurt Russell, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sylvester Stallone, Bruce Willis, Michael Keaton, Tom Hanks, Johnny Depp, Tom Cruise, Jim Carrey, Brad Pitt, George Clooney, Nicolas Cage, Mickey Rourke, John Travolta, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Dolph Lundgren, Mel Gibson, and Harrison Ford.
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There is a picture of an ocean wave on the side of the bus, more noticeably when the bus is circling the airport. That photograph was taken by Jan de Bont, for a campaign that was done for the American oceans, "Heal the Bay".
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When the police were looking at police mugshots, the first photograph was of David MacMillan, who is a sound mixer on the film.
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Keanu Reeves was actually tethered to the bottom of the bus for parts of one scene.
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The bus-jumping scene was shot at the junction of the Harbor (I-110) Freeway and the Century (I-105) Freeways. The artificial gap in the freeway was created digitally.
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Before filming began on the freeway with the gap in it, all the lines and signage had to be put in and taken out on a regular basis before and during filming. Filming took places for around two and a half weeks.
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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.
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The film was originally supposed to be released in August 1994, as 20th Century Fox had concerns that the film would underperform at the box office, and they felt it would be a worthy action successor to True Lies (1994), which opened that July. However, the film performed very well during test screenings, and test audiences loved it so much, which prompted Fox to move the release date up to June, as their first movie of the summer season, and to provide adult action competition in comparison with the family-friendly The Flintstones (1994), which opened two weeks earlier. In the end, Fox made the right decision, as the film grossed $121 million in the U.S. and Canada, and $350 million worldwide, against a budget of $30 million.
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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.
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Writer Graham Yost named the main character Jack Traven after B. Traven, writer of The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948).
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Jack's registration plate is "646 TEZ". "Tez" means fast in Hindi.
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Paramount optioned the script first, in 1992, but did not proceed with it.
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There are three different ads on the bus, and they are as follows (with their slogans): The Great L.A. Zoo - "Good Vibrations"; Heal the Bay - "Leave your children something to remember you by"; and Santa Monica Bank - "Money Isn't Everything. (Yeah, Right.)"
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According to Jan De Bont, Keanu Reeves wasn't used to playing a role requiring such extreme reactions.
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Rosanna Arquette, Joan Cusack, Geena Davis, Melanie Griffith, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Brooke Shields, Halle Berry, Madonna, Demi Moore, Gwyneth Paltrow, Michelle Pfeiffer, Sharon Stone, Lea Thompson and Debra Winger were considered for the role of Annie Porter.
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When Howard Payne (Dennis Hopper) says "Be prepared. That's the Boy Scouts' marching song", he is quoting the opening line to "Be Prepared", a song by Tom Lehrer.
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When Jan de Bont first got the script and found out it took place on a bus, he thought, "That's going to be boring."
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The elevator shaft set was built with four fully-functioning elevators, and was five stories high.
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Jack is carrying a S&W 5904 9mm handgun in his plainclothes but uses a 1911 during his SWAT duties. The movie leads viewers to believe that Jack and Harry are partners in some other line of police work. In reality, all members of LAPD SWAT are engaged in SWAT duties full time. They deploy for hostage rescue, barricaded suspects, bomb threats, high risk prisoner transfers, riots, active shooters, high risk warrants and raids, dignitary protection, and other unconventional tasks. Additionally, the pistol might be Traven's own that he carries for concealed personal protection when he's off duty.
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Sandra Bullock was previously in a movie called The Thing Called Love (1993), which was River Phoenix's last completed film before his death. Phoenix was Keanu Reeves' best friend.
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Michael J. Coo is a Key Grip on this movie, and is the cop in the second photograph of police mugshots. The name on the file reads Michael Coo.
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In the original script, the bomb was triggered to go off when the bus goes over twenty miles per hour.
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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).
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While making the film, Jeff Daniels thought it would not be successful. He reversed his opinion after seeing the finished product.
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A pre-stardom Halle Berry turned down the role of Annie, without regret, even though the movie became a huge hit. She said, "It would not have done for me what it did for Sandra Bullock. I would've just been the black bus driver."
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The police helicopter used by the Captain (or Lieutenant) in the movie is a McDonnell-Douglas NOTAR, #N599DB. It spent several years thereafter in operation as C-FCPS, Calgary, Alberta, Canada's police helicopter "HAWC 1". It was retired, and sold to a private citizen in late 2006.
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The famous The Dukes of Hazzard (1979) sequence was the filmmakers' wry commentary on the uncompleted state of Interstate 105, which had become a running joke among Los Angeles motorists. It was finally (and quite coincidentally) completed in late 1993, shortly before the film's release, several years behind schedule.
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When Dennis Hopper blows up the batch of explosives, he says, "Don't fuck with daddy." Hopper likes being referred to as "daddy" in Blue Velvet (1986).
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The black helicopter used by Mac was a McDonnell-Douglas NoTar helicopter. NoTar stands for No Tail Rotor.
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According to composer Mark Mancina, Michael Kamen was the studio's choice of composer, but Jan de Bont wanted Mancina to score the film.
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Sandra Bullock plays opposite a character named Jack in at least three movies. Jack Traven here, Jack Devlin in The Net (1995), and Jack Callahan in While You Were Sleeping (1995).
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The earrings that Annie sports are melted-down badges of Sigma Pi fraternity. Sandra Bullock was a little sister at the fraternity's East Carolina University chapter.
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Line producer Ian Bryce was driving the towing vehicle which was towing the large airplane at the airport.
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Jack drives a 1968 Ford Bronco.
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While filming Demolition Man (1993), Rob Schneider befriended Sandra Bullock. Upon hearing the premise of her follow-up project, Schneider incorrectly dismissed what he called "this bus movie" as something that wouldn't succeed at the box office.
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For some scenes, a stunt driver would control the bus from the second row of seats.
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After the success of White Men Can't Jump (1992) Wesley Snipes and Woody Harrelson were considered to play Jack Traven, but turned it down and did a similar movie called Money Train (1995) a year after, with a score also composed by Mark Mancina.
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When the subway car crashes into Hollywood Blvd, there is a marquee sign for 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968). In Twister (1996), another film directed by Jan De Bont the audience is watching The Shining (1980) during the F4 twister at the drive-in. Both of these films-within-a-film were directed by Stanley Kubrick.
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Jan de Bont and Andrzej Bartkowiak are best known for their cinematography, in this case de Bont was the director and Bartkowiak was the cinematographer. Both are also from Europe; Netherlands and Poland respectively.
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In the screenplay, Howard Payne's name was Howard Fisk.
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The bus number is 2525. 25+25=50, and 50 mph is the level the bus needs to stay above to prevent the bomb from exploding.
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Jack Traven and Harry Temple also use Heckler & Koch HK94A3 collapsing stock civilian guns with 16" barrels chopped and converted to resemble MP5A3s, fitted with Surefire light dedicated forends when responding to an incident near the beginning of the film. They can be noted as HK94s instead of MP5A3s because of the lack of barrel lugs, a push-pin set, and the lack of a paddle magazine release behind the magazine.
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At one point, while noticing Annie's sweater, Jack says that the Arizona Wildcats have a good football team. While the University of Arizona had a good football team while the movie was being made, it is far better known as a basketball school.
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In March 2018, during the evening-morning of the 1 hour clock change between Greenwich Mean Time aka UTC and BST aka Irish Summer Time, Ireland's RTE One television channel ran this movie without any adverts. Usually RTE show adverts throughout their entire schedule year round, apart from Christmas Day where movies are shown free of commercial breaks. Either, RTE had no advertisers booking slots during the film as the audience would be very low at that time of late night-early morning, or possibly they were having timing issues with the automatic programme playout system due to the hour change. Additionally, "Speed" is a very tricky film to place advertising breaks within, without breaking the story tension, so no point in putting in ad breaks if it was only going to be using programme trailers as place holders.
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The MD520N police helicopter has no conventional tail rotor. Instead, there is a internal blower which directs air out of a variable opening port at the rear left of the tail boom. Exhaust port pressure is also directed to the left to assist in the anti-torque function. This arrangement make the aircraft safer to fly near trees and other tight spaces.
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Jack Traven (Keanu Reeves) and Harry Temple (Jeff Daniels) keep M1911A1 pistols with (early made "Laser Products") Surefire 310R (Reeves) and 610R (Daniels) flashlights as their sidearms in the film. Even though the LAPD standard issue sidearm for patrol officers were in 9mm caliber, LAPD SWAT had always used .45 M1911 models as their sidearm. These 1911 models varied differently for each user, many of which where handguns originally confiscated from criminals and tricked out by the department "gun cage jockey" who would turn the guns into tactical weapons. These were also the first guns to be fitted with frame mounted flashlights. After deciding to have the department issue these guns so the officers wouldn't have to buy them, they tested several models until they decided upon the Kimber Custom TLE II as their sidearms. Since this film is before the issue of these guns, the 1911s can be any type of model. According to the armorers who worked on this film, the 1911s in the film were both 1911A1s and 9mm Colt Series 70s.
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Graham Yost was inspired by the car chase in Counterfeit World: Making 'To Live and Die in L.A.' (2003).
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The film's script was originally meant to be a vehicle for Jeff Speakman, as part of a three-movie deal for Paramount that fell through.
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Near the end, Howard Payne uses a nickel plated Heckler & Koch SP89 made to look like an MP5K by adding the MP5K foregrip and converting it to full-auto. It can be noted as an SP89 instead of an MP5K due to the lack of a paddle magazine release behind the magazine and lack of a push-pin lower receiver. According to the movie armorers, the filmmakers paid in advance for the armorers to send out the gun to be nickel plated. The weapon stayed Satin nickel until after 2001 when it was converted back to live fire, he also uses a Mossberg 500A Mariner fitted with a pistol grip with the barrel sawed down to 16".
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The number plate of bus 2525 was California 539724.
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Brief shots of the headsign of the bus display "33 Downtown via Freeway". The 33 is actually a local LA Metro (LACMTA) line between Santa Monica and Downtown Los Angeles via Venice Boulevard. The Santa Monica Blue Bus express line between Santa Monica and downtown is the 10, which operates via I-10.
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Jack keeps a Smith & Wesson 6904 as his off-duty sidearm in the film. This gun was built as a concealable 12 shot version of the 5904 model, with a 3.5" barrel and a bobbed hammer.
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Ray draws a nickel Smith & Wesson Model 36 with Pachmayr grips on Jack when he first gets on the bus.
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The film was parodied in a Fat Sweaty Coppers sketch in the 1996 Christmas special of The Fast Show (1994), which in that sketch, John Thomson's character attempts to get on a double-decker bus that has been rigged to explode if the bus' speed drop below five miles per hour.
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Richard Schiff (train driver) and Thomas Rosales Jr. (Vinnie), would go on to co star in The Lost World: Jurassic Park (1997), as with this movie they shared no scenes.
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The crew underestimated the distance the bus would travel when filming the jump, and multiple cameras ended up destroyed as a result on the first take. Jan de Bont phoned Panavision and asked them to send any old cameras they had lying around, so long as they had an anamorphic lens, and promised they would be placed "much further back this time".
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The cell phone used by Dennis Hopper's character Howard Payne is a Pioneer PCH-600, which was manufactured by Motorola in 1992 (based upon the DynaTAC platform) for Pioneer Electronics.
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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.
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The subway train that comes crashing up onto Hollywood Boulevard at the ending was actually a bus decked out to look like a subway train.
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Jan de Bont came up with the idea for the opening elevator sequence while working as a cinematographer on Die Hard (1988). While riding in an elevator in the building used as the skyscraper in that film, the elevator got stuck on the fortieth floor, and de Bont had to climb out the escape hatch and jump onto another elevator to get out.
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A deleted scene sees Jack shooting Howard Payne in the neck, just after he'd shot his partner in the leg at the beginning of the film. Later in the film, you can see the oval scar on Payne's neck caused by the shooting.
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The plane destroyed by the exploding bus has the logo "Pacific Courier Freight" on its side. This same name is on the truck used by the terrorists in Die Hard (1988) - an in-joke by production designer Jackson De Govia. Jan de Bont was cinematographer for Die Hard.
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According to Joss Whedon, the character of Stephens (Alan Ruck) was originally written as an abrasive lawyer, who gets his comeuppance in an unexpected death scene. Whedon re-wrote him as the sympathetic, dull-witted tourist of the final version, but kept the death scene, intending to give it more emotional impact. His character changes were kept, but the death was written out.
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The producers paid the owners of Payne's house five thousand dollars to blow it up. They also rebuilt it for them after filming.
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Jack's sidekick Harry was originally to be played by Ed Harris, and in this version was going to be revealed as the mad bomber. However, when Harris opted out, and Jeff Daniels signed on, the producers felt that the audience would not accept the sudden twist in character, so Harry was kept as a good guy throughout, and the mad bomber written as a separate character. The idea of the hero's friend and sidekick being the villain was later used in Broken Arrow (1996), also written by Graham Yost.
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The Los Angeles airport would not allow any explosions to take place to avoid frightening travelers. The explosion scene that takes place when the bus collides with the airplane was filmed in Mojave, California.
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The scene where the bus smashes into an empty Boeing 707 being towed across the runway, was actually filmed at the Mojave Airport. According to the DVD Commentary, Jan De Bont says it was "out in the desert, on an old runway".
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In an earlier script, the bus driver Sam (Hawthorne James) had to be removed from the bus because he had suffered a heart attack, and not because he had been shot.
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There was originally a scene called "Officer Baker's failed rescue" in which a bomb squad officer called Baker was going to be lowered onto the bus from a helicopter only to have to pull up when a bridge gets in the way, where he meets an unfortunate end. This scene storyboard can be found on the Special Edition DVD, complete with optional commentary by Jan de Bont.
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At least twelve different busses were used during the shooting of the movie: - two for exterior shots - two that were blown up - two for interior shots - two for action sequences and "hitting things" - one for the jump sequence - one modified, so that it could ride on two wheels during the sharp right turn sequence - one slightly raised, so that a man in a mechanic car could fit underneath. It was for the sequence in which Jack Traven tries to deactivate the bomb. - one with an extended platform in front, so that a filming crew could shoot the driver from the front. The filming crew referred to this bus as the "pope-mobile".
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The subway scenes were shot aboard the actual Los Angeles' Metro Red Line. They often used the same short stretch of track over and over, but most of the time, that subway tunnel you see is real. The only subway scenes that were faked in the studio, were the scenes with Keanu Reeves and Dennis Hopper fighting on top of the train, and the last final seconds before the crash.
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Some of the shots of the subway train as it runs off the rails are of a miniature model.
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The name tag on Howard Payne's policeman's uniform reads "Fisk", which, in early versions of the script, was the character's name, Howard Fisk.
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All of the main characters who die in the movie have names starting with "H" (Harry Temple, Howard Payne, Helen), with the exception of "Bob" in the first bus bombing at the coffee shop.
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Thirteen people are killed in the film: security guard, Bob the bus driver, Helen, Harry, several S.W.A.T. cops, the train driver, and Payne.
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All trains have what is sometimes known as a "dead man switch". This would automatically slow the train down to eventually stop, if the driver stopped either tapping a certain button within a set time frame, or released their grip on a trigger type mechanism whilst operating the vehicle. The shots fired at the train driver cab obviously causes the emergency brake to fail, but the scene can then be implied to also justify why the "dead man switch" system failed to de-activate the slow down and stopping procedure.
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Body count: 13.
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Richard Schiff plays a train driver when Howard Payne kidnaps Annie and hijacks a subway train in a scene that somewhat resembles The Taking of Pelham One Two Three (1974). Schiff would later go on to star in The Taking of Pelham One Two Three (1998), where he plays a fired MTA worker and hijacker.
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The ad that appears on the tail of the first bus that explodes says "Save the Clams" was an advertisement for The Bank of Santa Monica.
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The remote control unit, with the red light, that Payne has during the Subway Train sequence is also confusingly sometimes known as a "Dead Man Switch". Payne was using his version of the device in that scene so that if grip is released on the unit, the explosives would then activate. This is the inverse of the use of the standard use of a "Dead Man Switch" as mentioned elsewhere as a train safety feature, that the train should slow to a stop if the mechanism is released.
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On Harry's desk is a sign referring to another cop movie; "Go ahead, make my day " is the catch phrase of Dirty Harry in Sudden Impact (1983).
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At the end of the film, Dennis Hopper puts on a police uniform to pretend he's a cop. Joe Morton (Mac) previously appeared in Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991), where the bad guy (Robert Patrick) also wears a police uniform throughout the film.
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When the bomber talks to Jack on the phone he says he has x amount of minutes. Jack looks at his watch. It is the alarm mode, not in regular mode.
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