Written by Graham Yost, the story is about an Los Angeles police officer (Reeves) who has to stop a insane bomber/extortionist (Hopper) who has rigged a bomb on a public transit bus. The bomb has multiple triggers, including one that will detonate if the bus goes slower than 50 mi/h (80 km/h). The cop and a young woman (Bullock) struggle to keep the bus moving at an acceptable speed despite the congested traffic of the city while the police search for the bomber.
There is a sequel, Speed 2: Cruise Control, which is set on a cruise ship. Sandra Bullock reprises her role.
The Speed movies were parodied by the Father Ted episode "Speed 3", in which Father Dougal McGuire is trapped on a milk float with a bomb that will detonate if the float goes slower than 4 mi/h (6.4 km/h).