ESPN 30 for 30 Shorts: Collision Course (2013)

Directed by Billy Corben

Billy Corben is a familiar name in the 30 for 30 series, having already directed two full length installments in the series (The U and Broke). I’ve found his style to be a unique vision in the series. However, the style has not always suited the material. While The U was slick and self-assured, to match the players of the University of Miami football team, Broke seemed to revel in the defeat and stupidity of professional athletes who blow their seven figure salaries with the greatest of ease. With Collision Course Corben returns to the Miami area to examine the life, times and murder of powerboat king Don Aronow.

Aronow was a pioneer not only in powerboat design, but also the sport of off shore powerboat racing, a high dollar, elite sport among millionaire playboys, Hollywood stars, and drug smugglers. Aronow himself was not a smuggler, but he did profit greatly from those that bought his boats to get away from authorities during their smuggling runs. Aronow also came into business with the United Stats government and Vice President George Bush’s drug war task force, supplying them with the “Blue Thunder” boats that were supposed to make a difference in the war on drugs during the 1980s. Aronow was murdered in the midst of great suspicion as to who done it, and why they would want Aronow dead.

Corben’s film explores a few possibilities, but zeros in on Ben Kramer, a drug smuggler whose innocence has been proclaimed and supported time and again. Corben seems more obsessed with pointing to Kramer as a suspect, or some kind of scapegoat for the case, than he does truly want to explore the mystery of Aronow’s murder. The case remains open, even after the man who confessed to the murder was convicted and has since died in prison. The man was surely a hired gun, but who hired him? The film does little more than bring the mystery to light, choosing not to delve deeper, but rather stay on the surface of this intriguing murder/mystery. It was just hard for me to exactly understand what Corben may have been going for with this film. What was his objective?

**1/2 – Average

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