Dir: Scott Waugh
Cast: Aaron Paul, Dominic Cooper, Imogen Poots, Scott Mescudi, Rami Malek, Ramon Rodriguez, Harrison Gilbertson, Dakota Johnson, and Michael Keaton
Synopsis: Fresh from prison, a street racer who was framed by a wealthy business associate joins a cross country race with revenge in mind. His ex-partner, learning of the plan, places a massive bounty on his head as the race begins.
*Reviewer Note: This will be a spoiler free review.*
Need for Speed, based on the popular EA racing games, follows Tobey Marshall (Paul) is a former racing star who’s now struggling to make the payments on the auto shop he inherited from his dad. When his rival Dino Brewster (Cooper) offers Tobey and his crew 25% of the profits on a restored Mustang and they, of course, take the job. After the car sells in a way Dino doesn’t like, he wagers with Tobey and Tobey’s friend Pete (Gilbertson) an all-or-nothing race. Tobey takes the wager and is about to win when a desperate Dino nudges Pete off the road, and kills him. Tobey gets blamed for the crash and is sent to jail for two years. Once he gets out, he chooses to get revenge on Dino by beating him in the prestigious De Leon race held by Monarch (Keaton), an ex-racer-turned-Internet phenomenon. The Mustang buyer’s assistant, Julia (Poots), provides the restored car and the two head across country while dodging cops and a bounty put by Dino.
While some will probably say the movie is trying to copy or be like The Fast and The Furious franchise, Need for Speed is kind of its own thing. The movie does have its comedic moments, one scene in particular with one of Toby’s crew members Finn (Malek), but aside from that the movie is very much grounded. The movie has prided itself on using actual stunts instead with few CGI as possible, does make the car chases a bit more thrilling to watch and gives the movie a bit more creditability at the end. Of course, reviewers look at this as a mistake and some even say that the seriousness of the movie ruins the whole movie entirely. While there are some scenes that do prove that it doesn’t change the experience, well at least for me.
On the acting side, Aaron Paul, of Breaking Bad fame, does what he can with his role as a man looking for revenge but other than that he doesn’t really do anything else. He does have good chemistry with Poots’ character Julia, who is more than just a pretty face. Toby’s crew include; a pilot, Benny, who keeps an eye of them, and mechanics Joe and Finn. All three of them are the comic relief of the movie and while some of the jokes do feel forced there are some real genuine moments that make you feel like they have been friends for a while.
Dominic Cooper’s villain Dino is nothing more than a cocky former pro-racer who wants things done his way and will do anything he can to get it. Michael Keaton chews up a bit of the scenes he’s in as Monarch, but I think people will be happy to see him on the big screen again.
But let’s face it, the reason people will watch this movie is for the car sequences. Like I said before, Need for Speed prided itself on using actual stunts with a touch of CGI, which does make the car chases a bit more thrilling to watch and enjoy. Thankfully, Scott Waugh (Act of Valor) went that direction otherwise the movie could have gone in another direction for the worse. Waugh even brings some descent POV shots and puts you in the car sometimes. Like the game, the races all build up to the last race which is Monarch’s pride-and-joy, the De Leon, where the winner gets millions of dollars and the fancy cars.
All in all, Need for Speed isn’t a great movie but it isn’t as bad as the reviewers want to make you think. Paul, Poots and Keaton are the better parts of the movie but in reality the car chase sequences are the best part of Need for Speed.
Need for Speed
3.5 out of 5