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Saturday, December 8, 2018

Speed Kills 2018 * * Stars

Speed KillsDirector: Jodi Scurfield
Year: 2018
Rated R
Rating: * * Stars
Cast: John Travolta, Katheryn Winnick, James Remar

Released in limited fashion via November of 2018 and named after its fifth production company (Speed Kills Production, naturally), Speed Kills seems like a fitting title. Fitting for its star John Travolta that is. John's waxy, self-tan character loves his fast boats, loves his fast woman, loves his fast cash, and well, you know the rest. "Kills" is inspired by a true story but sorta feels spoofed and hard pressed to do any justice. Oh well. This rise and fall, American dreamed film is not as horrible as you might think.

Image result for speed kills 2018 movie scenesSaddled with a running time of 102 minutes that could've been stretched out to two-plus hours (gee I never thought I'd say that), Speed Kills has a murky storytelling arc, a seemingly low budget, stark production values, and pivotal scenes that are cut rather quickly. With a timeline spanning about 25 years, "Kills" is like a condensed, motorboat version of Goodfellas and Blow. The presence of actor Jordi Molla only enhanced my thought-out comparison.

Directed by a first-timer (the unknown Jodi Scurfield), containing random freeze-frames, and featuring a cameo by Tom Sizemore that shows he's aged about 9,000 years, Speed Kills chronicles one Ben Aronoff (played by John "I just came from the set of Gotti" Travolta). Aronoff is a speedboat racing champion who has made millions not only racing boats but building them as well. Mysteriously and without much explanation, Ben is also a bad husband and a credulous drug trafficker that's unwillingly connected to the Mob.

Image result for speed kills 2018 movie scenesIn retrospect, "Kills" has a bunch of known troupers that fade in and out (Jennifer Esposito, Matthew Modine as George Bush, Kellan Lutz, and James Remar). They do what they can with sparingly undeveloped parts. As for Travolta, well he's not bad here despite almost devoting his caked, makeup presence to self-parody. Bottom line: Speed Kills is entertaining, novel, and absorbing in spots. It uses its Mafia violence effectively (when needed) and contains a happy-go-lucky, 60's pop soundtrack. Still, "Kills" with its direct-to-video feel and shortcut racing sequences as split-screened, archived hooey, comes off as a little cheesy and a little thin. If I had to see it again, I wouldn't have a whole lot of need for "Speed". Rating: 2 stars.

Written by Jesse Burleson

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