Need for Speed

Need for Speed

  • Lite on story and character development, Need for Speed is not good.
  • Though the actors do their best. Aaron Paul (Tobey Marshall), Dominic Cooper (Dino Brewster), Imogen Poots (Julia Maddon), Scott Mescudi (Benny) and Rami Malek (Finn) are not special, per se, but each of them does enough to occasionally rise above the silly material and, at the very least, keep our attention.
  • Some of the race scenes do the same, especially those at the beginning of the film. In the initial sequences, director Scott Waugh keeps the focus on Tobey (Paul) and Little Pete (Harrison Gilbertson), even as he emphasizes the crazed speeds these men drive. It is a strategy that works well, that keeps us interested in the characters, at least for a time.
  • But the races get less interesting as the film progresses, partially because they become repetitive, and mostly thanks to increasing ridiculousness. A multi-million dollar vehicle suffering zero damage as it’s air-lifted by a military helicopter with a heavy weight chain, even as both travel approximately one-hundred miles per hour? Here it’s possible.
  • That isn’t the worst race, however, because the finale has so many cliches: a school bus getting in the way; police mindlessly risking lives and property damage by taking unnecessary risks; a protagonist demonstrating humanity even as he accomplishes his final revenge; a villain so stupid he doesn’t destroy the only evidence that can implicate him in a serious crime and so arrogant that he keeps easily accessible records of the evidence’s whereabouts.
  • And worst of all? An over-the-top commentator, here named Monarch (Michael Keaton), giving constant (loud) explanation of what’s happening.
  • In fact, Monarch might be Need for Speed’s biggest flaw. Waugh and writer George Gatins never explain or integrate this crazed observer of dangerous street racing. Michael Keaton’s ham-fisted performance doesn’t help either.
  • The romance between Tobey and Julia is equally forced, despite Paul and Potts’ best efforts. No matter the actors’ chemistry, Julia is written so poorly that she is unrelatable.
  • All of which is to say: Need for Speed has committed performances and a certain excitement, but it still lacks merit. Avoid it.
  • Final Grade: F+

27 thoughts on “Need for Speed

    • It does. Especially early – initially, I was wondering why so many people hate this one. A part of me thought, for the first thirty minutes or so, that I might even give it a B.

      And then Tobey was released from prison, and, in my opinion, it all started getting increasingly stupid and repetitive.

    • Yeah. The first thirty, I thought, were quite good. And then it just gets silly and repetitive. So we might say our reactions to this one are fairly different. 🙂

  1. Still planning to watch this, but not expecting much. The only thing that I love about it is the theme song in the trailer. The actual film? Eh, not pumped at all. Hopefully I will like it more than you did!

  2. When I heard that the filmmakers had created the car chases/action sequences in-camera as opposed to CGI my hopes for this one went up. But it seems like false hope… I won’t waste my money with this one!

  3. Oh boy F grade!!! I love Aaron Paul and am sad that he made a stupid choice for his first movie following the post-Breaking Bad craze. Why did this movie have to be made? Isn’t Fast and Furious 18 enough for the world!

  4. Yikes. I already had no intention of seeing this. Now I might have to actively tell people to avoid it. Seems like no one is too revved up about it. And yes–pun intended on that last bit. 😉

  5. That’s an interesting point about Monarch. He could very well have been the worst part of Need for Speed, each time he took the screen I felt pretty embarrassed for Michael Keaton. No idea why he chose this role. He had ABSOLUTELY no context here, although I think one quick line of dialogue towards the end briefly explained who he was.

    When it comes to that final chase/race, that part I actually did not so much mind. When I played, I believe the second game in the franchise, NFS: Hot Pursuit, this one scene in the movie was almost a carbon copy of the experience of playing a few of that game’s courses. Of course, the catch is, if you hadn’t ever experienced the game (which feels pretty generic even for a racing game, actually) then the throwback and references lose all meaning. This was the ultimate risk and failure of deciding to put this into a full-length feature. MIght have worked as a short film, though.

    • I can accept that it could be a good short. It isn’t a good feature.

      I didn’t know the last race was a copy of one of the game’s, but I’m unsurprised. Might have even expected it, really. Whether or not it’s a copy, it isn’t effective, in my opinion, in the movie.

      • No it’s not, you’re absolutely right man. The full-length feature was an ill-advised move. It clearly tried to lift the gaming experience and place it in a movie. Then the question became how to shape a ‘plot’ around such a basic set-up. I didn’t think anything worked at all, not even Aaron Paul. He stunk up the joint I thought. lol

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