Before Speed 2: Cruise Control killed the franchise, the first movie’s writer pitched a sequel that later became a Morgan Freeman action film.
The original concept for Speed 2 was transformed into a forgotten action movie starring Morgan Freeman and Christian Slater. Speed was released in 1994, and was the latest in a line of action movies that applied the Die Hard formula to a unique location. In this case, the story involved a bus that couldn’t drop below a certain speed or it would explode. Speed became a surprise smash, which cemented Keanu Reeves’ stardom and also acted as Sandra Bullock’s breakthrough. Despite not setting up a sequel, Speed 2: Cruise Control – which Keanu passed on – arrived in 1997; it was greeted with terrible reviews and was a box office dud.
The most mocked element of Speed 2 was its setting, which was used at director Jan de Bont’s insistence. Speed’s original writer Graham Yost later recalled to Script Apart his original sequel pitch. Titled The Flood, this saw Keanu and Bullock’s characters going on vacation in the Midwest – only to get involved in a heist in a flooded town. When this was rejected, it was rewritten as Hard Rain, where Slater’s character is hunted by Freeman’s thieves in a flooding town so they can retrieve some hidden money. Hard Rain is an entertaining action flick that’s mostly forgotten, but it’s possible to see the seeds of Speed 2 in it.
The Other Rejected Speed Sequels
One reason The Flood was rejected was its lack of connection to the first Keanu Reeves movie – namely, the fact speed itself was absent. Yost – who didn’t end up working on Speed 2 – prepped two other potential ideas. The first was titled High Speed and was set on an airplane. According to Yost it involved “… another bad guy and you can’t drop below 10,000 ft, and you’re running out of fuel and you’re headed into the Andes.” High Speed very much re-used the blueprint of the original but may have been rejected as Passenger 57 had already done Die Hard on a Plane.
Yost’s second pitch also took the franchise onto the water, but Full Speed sounds way more intense than Cruise Control. Says the writer, “Full Speed was going to be transporting munitions left over from the Vietnam War on a boat in the Pacific Ocean and they hit a storm. But they find out it’s got phosphorus in it and if water hits it, it’s going to blow up.” This alternate concept was Speed mixed with The Wages Of Fear, and while it would have been hard to fit Keanu or Sandra’s characters, it could have made for a suspenseful action thriller.
Will Speed 3 With Keanu Reeves & Sandra Bullock Happen?
Following his comeback with John Wick, Keanu has returned to many of his most famous franchises, including Bill & Ted and The Matrix movies. He’s steered clear of a Speed return, as has Bullock, who has trashed Cruise Control often in the decades since. According to Yost, he and producers met with Keanu in the early 2010s to mull a potential Speed 3, but the actor was largely uninterested. To Yost, there was a sense that Speed 2 had truly killed interest in future movies, and that it was probably best not to return.