As Trump’s approval ratings fall by the day, Vinnie Barbarino’s increases by the film.
Hard to believe that just sixteen years ago Hollywood had just about completely written John Travolta off. After his calamitous ode to Scientology, “Battlefield Earth”, followed by some very repugnant rumours that littered the tabloids (I had chills, and they were multiplying…), the one-time king of feel-good cinema was about as hirable as Monica Lewinsky in a stained dress.
Now, after seemingly spending the last decade hiding under the fat Baldwin brother, and away from the paps, only emerging fleetingly here and there for a quality role in a meaty TV mini-series (“The People Vs. O.J Simpson”) or solid-enough, if forgettable feature (“In a valley of violence”, “The Forger”), the former TV sweathog seems to have hit his stride again.
Hot on the heels of playing Bob Shapiro and (soon) John Gotti, Travolta’s playing another real life-figure, Speedboat champion Don Aronow in ‘’Speed Kills’’, for John Luessenhop. Now while the director mightn’t inspire confidence (“Texas Chainsaw 3D”, “Takers”), the writer of the thing, “Friday Night Lights” scribe David Aaron Cohen, just might. Dude knows how to spell.
As we saw on “O.J”, and even earlier, with “Primary Colors” (in which the big guy covertly played a certain jazz-playing POTUS), Travolta’s usually at his best when doing biopics. He makes an effort, anyway. Either he’s afraid of the real chap chasing him down and threatening to expose the photos of him without his hairplugs, or he simply enjoys the challenge (more so than doing something sleepy like “Ladder 49” or “Look Who’s Talking 4 : Bitch on Heat”), can’t think of a time when he didn’t surprise when wearing the guise of a real person.
“Speed Kills”, as Deadline reminds us, tells of a “womanizing multimillionaire who created the Cigarette and other speedboats and sold them to presidents, the Shah of Iran, Malcolm Forbes and pop stars. At his height, he did business with the U.S. government and drug cartels at the same time — a double life that led to his mysterious murder in 1987 while he sat in his car in Miami.”
The stencil suggests the tone will not be that dissimilar to the Gotti gangster yarn he’s also in, if that’s so, seems in these true crime tales that Qantas’s most expensive pilot seems to have found his calling.
Hopefully “Speed Kills” has as much fuel in it’s engine as the title suggests, and his Gotti works, or Travolta could soon find himself back… stranded at the drive-in, branded a fool. Personally, I’m rooting for the guy… love his earlier stuff, and some of the stuff he did in the late ’90s rocks (like “Pulp Fiction”, “Broken Arrow”, “Face/Off”, and “Get Shorty”), but will admit his career’s been as off-course as my GPS. Says a lot.