Need For Speed Review

While Aaron Paul’s throaty growl certainly gets my engine revving, the rest of Need For Speed is stuck in the slow lane. It certainly lived up to its name and was in a dire need for an injection of some speed.

Need For Speed is based on the video game of the same title. The game itself is a long-running game franchise from EA, filled with witty lines, fast cars and cops. There’s really no storyline in the game, just fast cars running from cops, the flick’s plot was pretty wide open for screenwriter George Gatins to work some magic on and deliver some creative genius.

Rather than going for a bit of flare, it’s much of the same. Here we have the classic racer with the heart of gold who just never got his chance, Toby (Aaron Paul), goes up against the douchbag, Dino (Dominic Cooper) who always got everything handed to him and even won the girl, finally get a level playing field to strut their stuff and really show who the superior racer is. Oh and there’s a revenge subplot thrown in as well, because, well why not? To say it’s predictable would be an understatement, but boy is it fun.

Dino gives Toby a chance to earn some much needed dough, finish the last 900-horsepower Shelby Mustang, and help him sell it. Toby impresses the car’s buyer in a way that Dino could not on the track, and digs that knife in a little deeper. Further sowing the seeds of animosity between the two when a friendly race turns tragic and Toby takes the full blame. Toby is left to pick up the pieces of his life and plots to use the Shelby to win the Monarch’s (Michael Keaton) big illegal street race. The car comes with a price, Julia (Imogen Poots), who comes along for the ride to ensure the cars safety.
The Shelby is the focus car for much of the film, and while it is really a beauty, it really isn’t the most impressive car of the movie. There are appearances by unicorns like the Saleen S7, Lamborghini’s Sesto Elemento, McLaren P1, the GTA Spano, Bugatti Veyron Super Sport, and Koenigsegg Agera which all make an appearance during the Monarch’s race.

With essentially no CGI and many of the actors doing their own stunts, it does have a heavy dose of diy reality on its side. Aaron Paul took a stunt driving course, and Scott Mescudi learned to fly for his role, in which he spent most of the film in an aircraft of some sort. And although impressive, this is certainly no Fast and Furious film where there are crazy action sequences. Sure there are plenty of crashes, but the adrenaline rush I was craving was killed by the incessant engine revving, which starts off sexy and quickly becomes tiresome, and constant gear shifting. Not to mention the fact that at times it feels like the cars don’t really get anywhere all too fast. Seriously how many gears do these cars have?

Though there’s no lack of chemistry between Paul and Poots, I wasn’t emotionally invested in the well-being of Toby’s crew the way I’ve become invested in Dom, Brian and the Fast gang. And even their little story takes a little too long to progress, as they get to know each other. Not to mention the addition of Dakota Johnson as the girl who got away that had no chemistry with anyone on screen. She was only there for a few scene and each was absolutely cringe worthy.

Keaton on the other hand was perfect as the eccentric Monarch. But, would it have been too much to ask for Michael Keaton to once utter a classic game line? I waited all movie for one “You suck harder than a Hoover with a full bag.”

I felt more apt to fast forward and skip to the good parts with Need for Speed than to watch what led up to cars going vroom. Rather than going over the top with the racecar concept Need for Speed goes under, drawing it out with a road trip, and never quite reaches top speed.

Need for Speed opens on March 14th.


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