When you look back at the video game movie adaptations, their cinematic history has been nothing but dreadful. It mirrors what comic book movies where 15 plus years ago, so could the most successful racing car video game in the world Need For Speed break the trend? No.
Need For Speed had everything set up perfectly for it to succeed possibly branch a franchise largely thanks to Fast And The Furious who laid down the basic foundations for the modern race film but what went wrong? You’ll also be left scratching your head how can Aaron Paul a very good upcoming award winning actor whose trying to make a name for himself on the back of one of Television’s biggest cult hits? How could he sign up for this dross? You would think with the success of Breaking Bad he would have the choice of the best scripts to propel him upwards but not downwards with what is now his second poor choice (the other been A Long Way Down which is released 21st March).
In the Need For Speed we meet Tobey Marshall (Paul) a struggling garage owner, car builder and street racer.During a testing of new cars a friend (a Justin Beiber look-a-like wannabe) is killed by arrogant ex- Nascar Dino (Dominic Cooper) who ran him off the road. The end result Tobey is wrongly convicted for the killing resulting in 2 years behind bars, when he is finally released he is set on revenge and what better place to do it at the world cup of all street car racing, the high stakes Deleon race. With 48 hours to go get to the start line on West coast, Tobey and friends must run the gauntlet of cops, fellow racers and those who want to cash in on the bounty Dino has put on Tobey’s head.
With all the comparisons that Need For Speed is getting with Fast And The Furious there isn’t really much both really share apart from cars. Vin Diesel’s superior film franchise may not be perfect but what it has done is found how to tweak its story here and there to deliver a formula that’s entertaining but most off appeals to a wider audience. What we get with Need For Speed is a film that’s more at home with Cannonball Run minus Dean Martin’s legendary ‘Rosary Bleeds’ or Dom Deluise’s Captain Courageous.
I learned a valuable lesson, do your research before you watch a film as this film did have it’s warning signs with the director been the biggest red herring of them all. Scott Waugh is the same director who brought us the over patriotic disengaging Act Of Valour , the film that had so called real soldiers all non actors as if it’s a 90 minute extended advert for American marine corp. This is proof that the director hasn’t learned his lessons of his previous failure and that you maybe an expertise in stunts but that doesn’t constitute you can direct a film.
The screenplay for Need For Speed is nothing but atrocious, feeling Indecisive as it doesn’t know what it wants to be or to do. The narrative is poor with undeveloped characters and if you think this is car porn for petrolheads think again this is more page 3 model.The cars may look fantastic eye candy but thanks to poor editing, the action scene are average and when many of the cast act like they have morals but when they drive they seem to run people off the road. For a film that boasts the name of Need For Speed, it comes across more of a road movie like the F1 drivers stuck behind the white flag safety car slow made worse largely thanks to be in 3D.
When I’ve been asked about Need For Speed many people seem to jump onboard defensive band waggon because it stars Aaron Paul. Let get one thing straight this is not Breaking Bad, no one is denying his talents but this is a film that shows the actor has a long way to go before he becomes A-lister. If he sees this film as a launch pad to better things he may as well shut up shop and slide down the slippery slope as his career will be doomed to movies that you’ll find stockpiled in pound shops in and around the country. The acting is one dimensional, dull with more wood on display than a porn film. Imogen Poots is quirky as the rich daddy’s girl he shows the boys that she can be as much as a petrol head as them even in her Gucci boots, as for Dominic Cooper his performance comes across as rich spoiled brat who stands in the corner in a tantrum who doesn’t get his way throwing money around like it’s going out of fashion. What really disappoints is Michael Keaton who plays the MC/benefactor for the race, his scenes feel right of place as if he did the parts during the re-shoots post production delivering no substance to a film that was crying out for some.
Need For Speed is a film lacking emotional connection , with central characters who seem to be only interested in interacting when someone dies and like the rest of the cast they are undeveloped you end up really hating them. This is not pure escapism as some have called it, the only escapism is getting out the screen quick enough as this is 2 hours too long (2hours 10 minutes) even the petrolheads will be looking at their watches. Need For Speed will be the El Dorado of the 21st century which some people deep down will sadistically like but wont admit it nor will they admit that The Fast And Furious: Tokyo Drift is a better film.
★ | Paul Devine
Action, Drama | USA, 2014 | 12A | 12th March 2014 (UK) | eOne UK | Dir: Scott Waugh |Aaron Paul, Imogen Poots, Dominic Cooper, Michael Keaton, Scott Mescudi, Rami Malek