Jan 052019

Speed Kills is another dud for the once great John Travolta but I do like the guy and hope he had one more resurgence in him otherwise he’ll likely be stuck in these terrible direct-to-video films.



Speed Kills

Genre(s): Suspense/Thriller, Drama, Crime
Lionsgate | R – 102 min. – $21.99 | January 15, 2019

Date Published: 01/05/2019 | Author: The Movieman

Directed by: Jodi Scurfield
Writer(s): Arthur J. Harris (novel); Paul Castro and David Aaron Cohen & John Luessenhop (story), David Aaron Cohen & John Luessenhop (screenplay)
Cast: John Travolta, Katheryn Winnick, Jennifer Esposito, Michael Weston, Jordi Molla, Amaury Niolasco, Matthew Modine, James Remar, Kellan Lutz, Tom Sizemore
Features: None
Slip Cover: Yes
Digital Copy: Yes
Formats Included: Blu-ray, DVD
Number of Discs: 2
Audio: English (DTS-HD MA 5.1)
Video: 1080p/Widescreen 2.35
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish
Disc Size: 23.96 GB
Codecs: MPEG-4 AVC
Region(s): A

Lionsgate provided me with a free copy of the Blu-ray I reviewed in this Blog Post.
The opinions I share are my own.

THE MOVIE — 2.0/5

Poor John Travolta. First his passion project Gotti was a failure of epic proportions, now the Academy Award winning actor makes his second attempt portraying real life person, albeit for some reason names were changed, and I suppose on the positive side of things, Speed Kills is the better of the two movies. Not that that’s saying very much.

The story follows Ben Aronoff (JOHN TRAVOLTA) who, with this wife (JENNIFER ESPOSITO) and two children, moves from New Jersey to Miami following his home development business failure. After taking a ride on a boat, Aronoff decides to get into the fledging speed boat industry garnering fame with championship races. But with the success and a focus on his business, he soon loses his family. Making matters worse, he’s also in deep with a gangster named Meyer Lansky (JAMES REMAR) and is eventually forced to help provide speed boats to transport drugs as well as launder money from Miami to the Cayman Islands.

Not all is going poorly for Aronoff however as he meets and woos Emily Gowen (KATHRYN WINNICK) and the couple have a child of their own. He eventually also lands a lucrative government contract, after making friends with then Vice President George Bush (MATTHEW MODINE), though he’s also made enemies with Lansky’s punk nephew Robbie Reemer (KELLAN LUTZ) and captures the attention of the DEA and Agent Lopez (AMAURY NOLASCO).

Speed Kills, like Gotti, also features some of the same old clichés most notably Goodfellas with Travolta narrating the opening and endings and also like Gotti, I have to wonder if this had a more competent filmmaker at the helm, like Nicolas Winding Refn or, going even more old school, Michael Mann, Speed Kills might have been an interesting biopic on a person not very many people know about (though ESPN did do a 30 for 30 short documentary on the real man, Don Aronow, “Collision Course” Instead, helming this dud is Jodi Scurfield, marking his/her debut, though doing some research, I cannot find any info on them and entirely possible it is a pseudonym, probably somebody who didn’t want to be attached.

But the director isn’t the only problem. The film, based off of a novel, features some shoddy writing and some atrocious dialogue, has two screenwriters attached in David Aaron Cohen and John Luessenhop, the latter has been suggested (on Reddit so…) to perhaps be the true director as he does have “experience” on the likes of 2000’s Lockdown, 2010’s Takers and the lousy 2013 Texas Chainsaw film.

I should note the film does feature a laughable awful speed boat race sequence. There is a scene where Travolta and his co-pilot are racing through a storm and this has some of the worst and yet best visual effects, and doing some research, was done using virtual reality technology.

The direction and writing aren’t the only issues, however. John Travolta, although giving it his all (and he is one of 31 executive producers… and that’s not counting 4 producers and several associate producers), but boy he’s looking a bit tired and appears he’s undergone a few more Botox injections or something. Still, based on his looks, he does resemble Don Aronow, just a shame everything else around him was amateurish. I don’t know, but I realize Travolta had a brief comeback in 1994 with Pulp Fiction, and maybe he should re-team with Tarantino, but I suspect he’s fully entrenched alongside Bruce Willis (though even he got a theatrical release with Death Wish), Wesley Snipes (gots to pay those taxes) and Robert De Niro.

The film does sport a respectable enough supporting cast including Kathryn Winnick as Aronoff’s second wife who does a couple okay scenes; Kellan Lutz chewing up the scenery perhaps knowing the kind of shitshow of a movie he was in; James Remar as your stereotypical gangster; and Jennifer Esposito as your further stereotypical angry wife. None of these performances really stand out, but give them some respect for wading through some bad dialogue… Oh, and it was nice to see Tom Sizmore again, even in a smaller role.

In the end, Speed Kills is just another bad crime-drama with the added “benefit” of having Travolta starring. Perhaps this is in the so bad it’s good category and might make for a fun Friday night to riff with friends, but watching it alone was… an experience.



This release comes with a slip cover and a redemption code for the Digital HD copy and nothing else.


VIDEO – 4.0/5

Lionsgate releases Speed Kills presented with a 2.35 widescreen aspect ratio and given a 1080p high-definition transfer. Nothing particularly special about the picture, detail is relatively sharp however and it is at least colorful showcasing the 1970s and 80s eras.

AUDIO – 4.25/5

The disc comes with a standard but effective DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 which does output a decent soundtrack while dialogue levels come through with good clarity via the center channel. There is some modest depth for the action sequences.


OVERALL – 2.25/5

Overall, Speed Kills is another dud for the once great John Travolta but I do like the guy and hope he had one more resurgence in him otherwise he’ll likely be stuck in these terrible direct-to-video films. This release from Lionsgate offers good video and audio transfers but unsurprisingly no special features.




Check out some more 1080p screen caps by going to page 2. Please note, these do contain spoilers.

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