Need for Speed: Movie Review
Cast: Aaron Paul, Dominic Cooper, Imogen Poots, Michael Keaton
Director: Scott Waugh
Based on a long running computer game series, Need For Speed races upto the box office, hoping to claim pole position.
Starring Breaking Bad's Aaron Paul as Tobey Marshall, a grease monkey whose aptitude is modifying cars, getting them back on the road and a bit of street racing too. But things aren't looking good for Marshall, with his father's death precipitating the potential financial end of his garage. So when Dino Brewster (a permanently sulking and scowling Dominic Cooper) comes to him to offer him the chance to make some cash to modify a car, he takes it.
But the rivalry off the track comes to a head on the roads as Dino challenges Toby to a race, along with Toby's pal Pete. And when Pete's killed, Toby's framed for the murder and thrown in the slammer, only to emerge 2 years later with revenge on his mind.
That opportunity comes to him courtesy of a chance to race in the De Leon, an event thrown together secretly by Michael Keaton's Monarch. So, with just 48 hours to get to the race, Marshall, along with Imogen Poots' bankrolling Julia has to head across country, avoiding bounty hunters set on him by Brewster and win the race....
Need For Speed will appeal to the adrenalin junkie, but hardly anyone else.
Every cliche is thrown into the mix - from Paul's growling, increasingly wide-eyed reactions to everything that transpires to Cooper's one dimensional pouty dead-eyed baddie, this is not a film that fires on any kind of cylinders. The problem is one of tone - there are moments where Need For Speed appears to be self-aware, and then moments, in among the slow-mo, where it's all played for high tragedy. And it just doesn't work.
The racing sequences, such as they are, are fine - pared back action, shot either from the tyre line or with a close up of Aaron Paul's narrowing eyes, but they offer little new in terms of adrenaline-fuelled moments or hairs-stand-up-on-the-back-of-your-neck excitement. And there's too few of them, littered as they are throughout the 2 hour running time.
Plot-wise, the film opts for nothing more than ludicrous which is perhaps unsurprising, but other car racing films of a similar ilk have at least had a thread of something running through them (Fast and Furious anyone?) which has given the casual movie-goer something to cotton on to. But here, there is no plot money shot, no one moment that has you rooting for the in peril couple or the leads, simply a crushing inevitability over how it will all play out.
Ultimately a lack of last race is crippled by a lack of tension, as characters hitherto unseen vie for first place (with the names of English Paul and Texas Mike believe it or not) that no one cares about - all we're supposed to be invested in is the fight between Dino and Toby. Add in Michael Keaton's bizarrely OTT Monarch, who chews as much scenery as he can during the sequences he's on screen and you've got a rather odd experience.
While the stunt work is quite impressive, there's little else in Need For Speed which will really rev anyone up outside of petrol heads.
Sadly, Need for Speed is stalled from the very start.