Review: John Travolta Can’t Keep SPEED KILLS Afloat

2 out of 5 stars

Following on from the recent Gotti, John Travolta once again toplines a film which is undeserving of his talents with Speed Kills. This time around The King Of Cool takes to the high seas as Ben Aronoff, a speedboat racing millionaire who dabbles in suppling boats to druglords on the side. Aronoff meets a bloody end in the film’s opening minutes and we get to see the rise and fall of the Miami-based millionaire in flashback. It’s not very good but at least it’s short, light and breezy with Travolta once again giving a charismatic performance that really should be in a much better film. It’s the movies which have become small for the Pulp Fiction star.

Based on a true story, Speed Kills is your typical Goodfellas-style gangster film where we follow the protagonist’s rise from (relative) nothing before finally taking a bullet in the finale. Travolta ain’t staying alive in this one. A flurry of montages, jazzy music and voice-overs, Speed Kills covers 25 years, with Travolta never ageing a day (in true Travolta-style he does get a range of toupees though). We see him set-up business in Miami, fall in love with speedboat-racing, divorce his wife (Jennifer Esposito), buy his disabled son a horse-racing business (!), piss-off gangster Meyer Lansky (James Remar), get involved with druglords, meet his new wife (Katheryn Winnick), piss-off Lansky’s nephew (Kellan Lutz), bond with George Bush Sr (Matthew Modine) and get popped in a parking lot. That sounds like it might be thrilling but excitement levels are low as all these things happen on screen. 

The directing credit on Speed Kills belongs to first-time helmer Jodi Scurfield, however the word on the street is that Scurfield is actually a pseudonym for co-writer John Luessenhop, who apparently helmed the film before falling out with producers. This rings true as Speed Kills is not a movie that anyone would boast about directing. The low point comes as Travolta’s Aronoff races directly into a raging squall, a sequence which should be Speed Kills‘ highlight. However, the scene’s atrocious CGI is almost hypnotic in its badness – it’s as if The Perfect Storm never happened.

There’s not much to recommend in Speed Kills if you’re not a John Travolta fan (unfortunately Movies In Focus is!) and for that it’s solid enough viewing. It’ll make your yearn for Get Shorty – but it also features Matthew Modine doing a fun (but brief) George Bush Sr impersonation, so at least there’s that.

Speed Kills is out now on DVD and Digital HD