Need for Speed movie review

By Max Maier | Aug 10, 2014

The Fast and the Furious movies have made millions of dollars on a hobby that a vast majority of men adore, fancy cars and street racing. F&F gives their audience what they want, and after 6 movies, the fact that they are still satisfying people is impressive. However they are not alone. Movies like Gone in 60 Seconds with Nic Cage are successful. People just like seeing fancy and supped-up cars race each other in intense situations. Also, Need for Speed from EA is a very successful racing video game franchise, and has been for over a decade at least. So naturally you'd think making a big movie based on this successful franchise would be a big hit! They even have Aaron Paul from Breaking Bad as our hero! How could this possibly go wrong? Here's how:

We open with our "hero", Tobey Marshall (Aaron Paul) as the owner of an auto-mechanic shop passed down from his recently deceased father. Tobey is also a street racer, and uses his shop to make custom cars. His friends work there and support him in races as well, basically you're generic pit crew. He is approached by a wealthy car fan named Dino Brewster (Dominic Cooper.) Dino hires him to make an incredibly fancy car to sell off to an investor Dino has been talking to. After awhile, Tobey makes a car that eventually sells to the investor and his consultant, Julia Maddon (Imogen Poots.) Tobey only was able to make the deal after he takes the car out for a test drive, even after Dino asks him specifically not to. Dino feels outdone, so after some trash talking, one of Tobey's friends, Pete, challenges Dino to a race. Dino accepts, and Tobey joins in as well. During the race, Dino is in last place, and takes out Pete in a very intense car crash. Dino races off and Tobey is arrested for Pete's murder, and for illegal street racing. After serving 2 years, due to..movie reasons, he hears talks of a very famous underground (no pun intended) race named The Deleon. This infamous race is run by an apparently famous radio personality named Monarch (Michael Keaton.) Dino is apparently in this race, and Tobey needs in. After some unnecessary stunts and tricks to break his parole, Tobey is invited to join. Dino hears of this and puts a bounty on Dino's head, that he is not to join this race. Now Tobey, accompanied by Julia, needs to get to the start of The Deleon in one piece and teach Dino a lesson.

Now, I don't know if I made the plot holes apparent in my description, but there are several. Along with several stupidities. First off, I love how in street racing movies, the inconsistent police force. In reality, police would be over this if it were that big of a problem. Secondly, Tobey's license plate SHOULD'VE been scanned, therefore cops would have been able to find him, especially in this age of technology. Third, if this Monarch is constantly making these radio broadcasts, talking about all of these illegal races and whatnot, how have police not only caught onto the racers, but also not arrest Monarch for not only condoning these actions and reporting them, but creating his own illegal street racing event. They never clear any of this up, and it just becomes stupid. Not to mention other little touches scattered throughout the story.

Also, the race scenes in this movie are unpleasant. As I mentioned, Pete's death is intense. It lasts for almost 2 minutes or so, and it is tough to watch. Not to mention several other scenes that purposefully showcase the damage the races are doing, and the innocent civilians that are affected, and several are most likely killed. Now you never technically see people die, you always see the cars take the hits and whatnot, several scenes even mistakenly show the cars in motion without any silhouette of a person behind the wheel. Still, the thought of what is happening to these people is painful to watch, and is mistakenly given a lot of attention. Films like the F&F don't usually give attention like this unless it's bad guys, like ALL action films with a car chase do. It's a bad choice artistically, and kind of distasteful.

The acting isn't that great either. Paul has acting chops, we've seen it in Breaking Bad. The man can act, but he is kind of dull here. I mean, he isn't terrible, but just kind of dull. It's a shame for him.  Cooper as the villain doesn't really feel like a villain, he is just a jealous jerk who killed somebody. He doesn't get much character development here, and he is just that jerk Tobey has to beat. Poots as the "love interest" is your stereotypical attractive woman who know more than guys about cars that we have seen before. Nothing new unfortunately. Tobey's crew is full of obnoxious. He has a pilot who just keeps showing up with fancy helicopters and whatnot, and laughs off how he gets them. How does he get these things?! We need an explanation here! Then, there is another guy, who isn't that important, other than they have to convince him to leave work to join them. Like he is miserable at work r something. It is never established, but I don't care. We are then tortured with a very awkward nude male scene with this character that overstays it's welcome by a couple of minutes. It lasts far too long. Keaton as Monarch isn't bad, but again, we hardly get any backstory on him, so he is just this enigmatic host/announcer for illegal street racing, which would again get people arrested.

The only positive here are some of the first person shots during the racing. These are cool shots, that capture the essence of what fans of the video games like. These are few and far between, but the fact that they exist is nice. And yes, some of the cars do look gorgeous.

 

Overall, Need for Speed falls flat. Dull characters, a boring story with plot holes big enough to race through, and too much uncomfortable content leads to a film not really worth anyone's time. You would be better off playing a Need for Speed game or watching a Fast and Furious movie. Hopefully Aaron Paul picks his movies better next time.

 

I give Need for Speed, 2 uncomfortable wipeouts out of 5

 

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