Movie Review: Need For Speed

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need for speed poster

Movies based on games have a very mixed history. If you throw in movies based on rides and attractions its an even more mixed bad. Need For Speed tries to capitalize on the trend by taking a highly popular video game and adding a story. But does it work?

Need for Speed stars Aaron Paul of Breaking bad fame as Tobey Marshall. You know him we love his character but what about him? He’s a guy who from small town upstate new York who used to be the best racer around. There’s no real explanation of why he didn’t go pro, instead he runs his dad’s garage shop and employees his best friends. Unfortunately with his dad’s death, he risks losing the garage to the bank. In walks rival and pro racer Dino (Dominic Cooper) who also is dating Tobey’s ex-girlfriend. Well we do need conflict. Dino offers Tobey and his crew the ability to restore and finish a fabled Shelby Mustang he owns for a percentage of the sale price. Since he has the bank breathing down his back Tobey has no choice but to say yes. With the reveal of the car and the upgrades he made he meets Julia played by Imogen Poots. She knows her cars as the broker for the sale of these high end items.

Aaron Paul in Need for Speed movie

Dreamworks

Need For Speed does a setup for the motivation of working with a rival and Tobey’s prison term for manslaughter. Since the film is based on racing there s a lot of it. The fast cars without nitro but crazy driving and high speeds are what makes this different from the Fast & Furious series. An interesting storyline is what it lacks. Need for Speed is so uneven you have to ask yourself whether you still care in between racing. When Tobey is released from prison his only goal is to prove Dino caused the crime he did time for and to win the Deleon a secret invite only race that the top races compete in where the winner takes the cars of the losers.

Monarch in Need for Speed

Dreamworks

Some things work. Michael Keaton as Monarch the guy who puts on the Deleon and has a heart condition is amazing. I didn’t realize how much I missed him and while all of his scenes are hosting a radio/web show he’s still great and breathed life into a cast one-dimensional and boring characters. Dominic Cooper spends most of the film with full on Pete Campbell bitch-face. 2 members of the crew Finn (Rami Malek) who quits his job in hilarious fashion and Benny (Scott Mescudi) as the eye in the sky who they tease and refuse to call Maverick. Need for Speed definitely ventures into the funny bits often. It seems that the unintentional comedy scale tips more than a few times. There’s a level of cohesiveness amongst Tobey and his crew but most of them try to hard or can’t figure out if they need to show a different emotion than the character they play. Dakota Johnson and Ramon Rodriguez also star. On the plus side there’s a lot of in car and race footage. I haven’t played the game Need For Speed in over a decade but I remember it being about the cars. On the plus side the film is heavy on the cars but the story just needs works. Add to that the 3D isn’t that wonderful, the film is overall dark they neglected to counter how glasses dim film and the usage is odd at times.

My Rating: Redbox
Worth the upcharge: No
Director: Scott Waugh
Studio: Dreamworks/ Touchstone
Release Date: March 14, 2014
Run time: 2 hours 11 minutes
MPAA Rating: PG-13

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