Need for Speed (Dreamworks II)
Rated PG-13 for sequences of reckless street racing, disturbing crash scenes, nudity and crude language.
Starring Aaron Paul, Dominic Cooper, Imogen Poots, Scott Mescudi, Rami Malek, Ramon Rodriguez, Harrison Gilbertson, Dakota Johnson, Stevie Ray Dallimore, Michael Keaton.
Written by George Gatins and John Gatins.
Directed by Scott Waugh.
At first glance, it would seem a movie like Need for Speed has a lot going for it, especially for a guy like me who likes fast cars, video games and Aaron Paul. I watched every episode of Breaking Bad thinking “This guy is really talented, and should be in movies.” Years ago, I also played EA Games’ Need For Speed on the Nintendo Gamecube to completion, having mastered the art of building a virtual street racer, finding shortcuts, ‘drifting’ and knowing when to deploy your “Nos” at the right time. So, when I heard there was going to be a movie (partially filmed in Utah) based on the game starring an actor whose work I admired, I thought, “There has to be a catch.”
There is a catch, but more on that later.
Paul stars as Tobey Marshall, a street racer who owns a garage in upstate New York. After being framed by professional racer Dino Brewster (Dominic Cooper) for the death of a friend killed in a crash during a street race, Tobey goes to prison ad emerges with revenge on his mind.
Tobey enters a ‘secret’ race that will be held near San Francisco but he has to get there within a few days. To get there, he must use a millionaire’s rare Shelby Cobra Ford Mustang and take the rich guy’s lovely British assistant Julia (Imogen Poots) along for the ride. The race’s organizer is “Monarch” (Michael Keaton), a squirrelly guy who provides constant narration and commentary about the Tobey-Dino backstory.
In short, the race happens, and Tobey gets his chance at redemption.
The aforementioned “catch” attached to Need For Speed is – it’s a terrible movie. I can accept that a suspension of reality is required in filmmaking, especially one based on a video game (Hollywood has yet to produce a very successful movie based on a video game – and I think their streak will remain active). One would need to go much further than ‘suspend’ reality to enjoy Need For Speed – you would also have to ignore it for exactly one hour and ten minutes. Call it knit picking, but if you are driving the world’s fastest car, then your support truck shouldn’t be able to keep up with you.
Aside from the really stupid story idea, Need For Speed also suffers from a very subtle performance from Paul, a humorless script and a very annoying Michael Keaton, whose scenes seem to have been shot from a ‘web-cam’ point of view. Sure, there are a few moments of intense racing action in the movie, but the overall story did not make me care for the characters in the film, and I couldn’t wait for it to end (even though how it would end).
Need For Speed is a movie that crashes and burns before it starts, and seems like it was made by guys who were dropouts from the “Michael Bay School for Stylized Action Movie-making.”
To see what Clipper Associate Editor Jenniffer Wardell thought about Need For Speed, click here.