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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 D'YOU DO?!
~ Howard Payne to Jack Traven.

Howard Payne is the main antagonist of the 1994 sleeper hit action thriller Speed. He was a retired police officer from a bomb squad unit and because of this, he became an extortionist and an extremely calculating, manipulative, temperamental, and psychopathic terrorist.

He was portrayed by the late Dennis Hopper, who also played Frank Booth in Blue Velvet.


This section is too long. Visit here for more details: Howard Payne's Synopsis on the Villains Wiki.

What Makes Him Pure Evil?

  • Stabbed a security guard in the ear with a screwdriver on a Los Angeles skyscraper where he rigged one of the express elevators.
  • Detonated one of the elevators, intending to kill all those present there, who were miraculously rescued by Officers Jack Traven and Harry Temple.
  • Threatened to blow himself up with a pressure release detonator while taking Harry as a hostage.
  • Detonated a Santa Monica Municipal Bus Lines bus, killing its driver.
  • Planned to detonate another bus, but one full of passengers, unless he was paid $3.7 million in ransom money. He also set up that bomb so it would armed when the bus reached 50 miles per hour and explode if the bus dropped below that speed, threatening to detonate it if someone tries to leave or if the ransom isn't delivered by his established deadline as well.
  • Made it clear he would blow up all of Los Angeles to get his money.
  • While he agreed to allow Sam, the bus' driver who was wounded by an unrelated criminal there who thought Jack had come to arrest him, to be evacuated from the bus, he didn't do so because he thought it was the right thing, but because Jack promised him to pay more ransom money if he accepted to allow Sam to leave.
  • Detonated a small bomb when Helen, an elderly nervous passenger, tried to leave the buss, leading Helen to fall under the wheels and get fatally crushed.
  • Rigged his residence with a bomb that was armed when Harry and his SWAT team arrived, killing them all. He then informed Jack about Harry's death with glee.
  • When he realized that the passengers had been evacuated without his knowing, he opted to pose as a police officer and kidnapped Annie, strapping a pressure release detonator on her chest and threatening to blow her up if Jack followed him into a subway train.
  • Shot dead the subway train's driver when he tried to answer the radio.
  • Tried to murder Jack by shooting at the subway train's rooftop and later with his own hands after the ransom money was tainted with a bursting dye pack, rendering it useless.
  • Although he does have a reason behind his actions, his dismissal from the Atlanta Police Department doesn't justify any of his crimes, as he became a terrorist just because he felt he wasn't paid enough money for his retirement, ignoring that he lost his thumb while heroically defusing a bomb. That said, he could have easily sought a well paid job where he could have been effective.

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See Also
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