Director: Scott Waugh
Starring: Aaron Paul, Dominic Cooper, Imogen Poots, Michael Keaton, Scott Mescudi, Ramon Rodriguez, Rami Malek
Written by: George Gatins and (story) John Gatins
Running Time: 130 mins
Release date: 12th March 2014
Here’s my review of Need For Speed. “Vhrooom! Vhroom! Screech! Vhroom! Crash! Screech!” That’s the whole sum of the film. For 130 minutes! Yes, Need For Speed is a 2 hour 10 minute car racing game held together by the thinnest of plots and not allowing the otherwise talented cast to do nothing but drive in very fast cars. Yes, welcome to the land of tediousness!
Tobey Marshall is the son of a top racer who runs his late father’s motor mechanic garage. Needing money to keep the business afloat, he takes a deal to build a car from former rival Dino Brewster. The deal is then made more interesting when Dino offers to give him all the money for the sale of the car if he wins a race. In the process, Dino runs off the road Tobey’s friend and leaves him to face the music with a prison sentence. Years later, Tobey is released and hungry for revenge, wanting to take on Dino once and for all, he gets the car he built, along with blonde Brit, Julia Maddon, driving across America with his racing crew to run in an illegal race sponsored by the mysterious Monarch.
Based on a popular video game (the film is part produced EA Sports, who make the game) this is exactly that, an overlong live action version with the occasional attempted character development and emotion. Take out all the acting business and you have probably an hour and a half of screeching, crashing, noisy car racing, car chases and cars. This is the sort of film made for people who watch Top Gear for the cars.
Yes, the stunt work is impressive and there seems to be very little use of CGI but while it is an overlong car chase, once you’ve seen one race, you’ve seen them all so it lacks any real tension and the excitement level drops pretty quickly. Burt Reynold’s Smokey And the Bandit movies did the same thing except they were done with a sense of fun, having humour throughout. This is almost humourless and when they do try to inject a joke or two, they fall flat on their face.
So as we go from one car sequence (they all seem to go on for ages) to another, you long for something or someone to inject some form of life. Thank goodness, then, for Michael Keaton, who pops up as Monarch, the man who is responsible for the illegal races. It’s a good reminder that Keaton, when allowed plenty of room, can be both energetic and fun and he seems to be treating this nonsense as a way to pay for an extra room while still having his tongue in his cheek.
As for the rest of the cast, they are totally wasted and only seem to be there to, well, look like they are driving the cars. Aaron Paul, as we know from Breaking Bad, is a decent actor but here, in his first starring big screen role, is given nothing more taxing than frowning and speaking in a gravelly voice. Dominic Cooper, as baddie Brewster, puts on an American accent and a leather jacket and that’s about it. Imogen Poots does try to create some sense of character as Julia but even she can’t outdo the cars.
If you thought that the Fast And The Furious series was nothing but mindless car chases and drag racing, then you ain’t seen nothing yet. This is a vacuous, noisy, mindless and pointless film that might even tax the video game fans. The audience I saw the film with (all six) were made up of teenage boys and a mum who brought her son. The son afterwards said it was “sick”. Not sure if that was how he was feeling or about the film. I would say the former.