The silver screen adaptation of the video game takes us into the world of muscle car-racing
With Breaking Bad ending last fall, Aaron Paul had a lighter schedule and with it came Need for Speed, a movie supported mostly by exotic cars and scenery. Despite Paul’s acting credentials, the movie isn’t exactly a masterpiece.
In 1994, Electronic Arts introduced its first entry into the racing video game market with Need for Speed. The more recent game in the franchise, Need for Speed: Rivals, became the 20th title in the series to be released. Started in 1998, the Hot Pursuit subseries then had new installments both in 2002 and then in 2010. This subseries is now the universe in which the latest movie by Scott Waugh takes place.
Struggling through financial issues, Tobey Marshall (Aaron Paul) and his crew agree to a business proposition with ex-NASCAR
champion Dino Brewster (Dominic Cooper). The partnership goes awry when one of their own is killed in a car crash orchestrated by Brewster. Marshall is then framed for the fatal crash and winds up in prison. Two years later, Julia Maddon (Imogen Poots) aids Marshall in getting his redemption, ultimately leading to challenging Brewster in a race. This race is sponsored by Monarch (Michael Keaton), an ex-racer in charge of the De Leon race, an annual invitation-only event held in California for the six best racers in the US, where Brewster and Marshall face off while law enforcement pursues the racers.
When it comes to the acting, Paul is really invested in his character, while Cooper fits the bill as a remorseless racer. Keaton’s character adds humour to the film and his role as Monarch, the overly excited and slightly crazy overseer, nails the performance. Poots’ character, though, is confusing, trusting Marshall at the drop of a hat and never questioning any event.
The weakest point of the acting is in the supporting cast. It is terrible: they are corny, forgettable and stereotypical. Who are Brewster’s stooges? Why is there not a single car driving near the coastline? How does a character get access to army and police helicopters? Why are the police officers not using spike strips? These plot holes and acting deficiencies serve as the main criticism against Need for Speed.
With that being said, the movie takes elements from the Hot Pursuit subseries and translates them to the silver screen making the experience enjoyable for fans of the franchise, while not alienating a new audience. Need for Speed takes the viewer across the United States to a scenic view of the Pacific Ocean. The movie illustrates the beautiful scenery: the canyon, the country, the forests and the mountains, which will surely cause those who played the games to take a trip down memory lane.
Waugh had good ideas for directing; cockpit views and overhead shots at an angle are filmed several times.
Need for Speed showcases impressive crashes and stunts. Each impact is real and no CGI was used to create the scenes. This realism serves as a message: speed kills and so does stupidity.
The score by Nathan Furst is a suitable original soundtrack for this movie and the song selection, including a track by Linkin Park, is decent. However, the cover songs by Aloe Blacc in the movie’s song selection are butchered and bring little to no value to the score.
For what it’s worth, Need for Speed is alright if you can ignore the plot holes and bad supporting cast. One thing is for sure though, it is better than half of the Fast and the Furious franchise.
You can catch Need for Speed in theatres nationwide.