Movie Review: Need for Speed

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Stars: Aaron Paul, Imogen Poots, Dominic Cooper, Scott Mescudi, Ramon Rodriguez, Rami Malek, Michael Keaton

Rated PG-13 for sequences of reckless street racing, disturbing crash scenes, nudity and crude language, Running time 130 minutes, Action/Crime/Thriller

Compare to: The Italian Job (2003), Fast Five (2011)

When basing a film off a video game, makers should be aware that your chosen adaption may be either met with excitement or disgust, depending on how familiar the viewer is with said game.

Everything you need to know is from the title and the fact that Aaron Paul of TV’s Breaking Bad is the star. How you feel about those two things alone will determine how much you like this movie. Me? Well, the games have no story but sure, it looks cool. And I love Aaron Paul because I love Breaking Bad, but he’s no Steve McQueen.

After he was framed and sentenced to two years in prison, street racer Toby Marshall sets out to get revenge on and off the track for rich boy Dino Brewster (Yep) getting his friend killed and get Marshall sent away. An underground racing circuit gives Marshall his chance by setting up a race where the winner gets seven million dollars. Toby, along with his group of mechanic friends, is going to have a hard enough time avoiding the cops and staying in one piece, much less making it to the race.

"Should've had...more...caffeine..."

“Should’ve had…more…caffeine…”

You get the idea, I’m sure. It’s based on a racing video game called Need for Speed and it’s a movie where the narrator of the trailer may or may not have said something like “OUT HERE…. IF YOU WANT TO BE SOMEBODY… YOU’LL HAVE TO RISK IT ALL…”

Of course at some point, we had to have a shot of the racers (all presumably in their late twenties- the coolest age) passing by a car that looks lame in comparison to the main characters just so we can see how other cool people stack up to our main characters. Lemme tell ya, it’s not very cool! Wowwee! Oh boy! Speed! We need it!

But I don’t want to paint this entire portrait of a movie you’ll be groaning through the entire way. The cast is good for the most part, though lead actor Paul does a better job of being a bit more likable than he is cool, which is what this movie is going for in every single line, shot, and moment we’re presented with. The sexual tension between him and Dominic Cooper as Dino Brewster (Oy…) is scintillating as they can’t help but get their faces inches away from the other to talk about what they’re going to do to each other…on the track of course.

Whoa! Look out, ladies, they're one-car kinda guys!

Whoa! Look out, ladies, they’re one-car kinda guys!

I feel the need to mention that Scott Mescudi’s performance as Benny, the guy who can inexplicably fly anything that was made to fly, isn’t too bad. The rapper of course, goes by Kid Cudi and he stuck out to me in this, as musicians that generally pop up in movies really give off that “I just felt like I being a movie!” vibe! He’s not bad as the comedic relief, which is something this film might definitely suffer from otherwise. He seems to be one of the couple actors here that understands that kind of movie he’s in.

Don’t let it surprise you that he’s got a song in the credits though. FYI, It’s called “Hero.”

I mean, really- it’s serious. As serious as the most recent Fast and Furious movies. But where the F&F movies took them four movies to realize that they’re characters would be international terrorists for the damages they incur, Need only takes one, separating the tone between the films which are bound to draw comparison. For viewers with low expectations, you probably won’t be pleasantly surprised. For viewers just hoping to have something tide them over until the next Fast and Furious movie, this should be fine.

"VROOM VROOM! EEEEERRRRR! PSSHH!!!"- Police Car #16

“VROOM VROOM! EEEEERRRRR! PSSHH!!!”- Police Car #16

Positives-Car stunts are cool, the cast works well, Michael Keaton is doing something of a Warriors/Underground DJ thing which dramatizes the races more than they would be, thereby letting you feel like all the melodrama is justified in a way.

Negatives- Follows literally EVERY cliche of past and present Action movies- Cars tap other cars and explode, the romantic interests who happen to be the same age can’t stand each other at first, blah blah blah…

Grade: C-

Side Note: Does it also surprise you that at a certain point, the characters in the movie are actually playing the game?

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