Skip to content

Need for Speed

March 15, 2014

Since I was talking about how absurd the concept of a Gran Turismo movie was about eight months ago, I decided to sit down and watch Need for Speed. This is of course a different studio’s attempt to capture America’s love for the Fast and Furious franchise by combining pre-awareness and a beloved but featherweight level star with a script that was clearly just lying around.

Egads, I feel like that previous sentence really gives away my thoughts on this film doesn’t it?

Need for Speed follows Tobey Marshall (Aaron Paul) in his quest for vengeance and illegal street racing super stardom, I guess. At the beginning we listen to “The Monarch,” (Michael Keaton) an eccentric and presumably wealthy man who runs a well known underground race called the De Leon, discussing Marshall’s blue collar roots and how he could be racing’s hottest thing if only he had sufficient backing. Instead, Marshall’s long time rival and all around mega-douche Dino Brewster (Dominic Cooper) used his family’s money to jumpstart his racing career as well as steal Tobey’s girlfriend. Despite their past, Tobey helps Dino finish an astounding Ford Mustang and sell it to a wealthy car collector while also rubbing his superior driving ability in Dino’s face.

This prompts an illegal street race using Dino’s Uncle’s illegal Koenigsegg Ageras for the profits of the Mustang sale. Dino, being the world’s biggest douche, kills his girlfriend’s brother (who was in the race as a third man just for the thrill of driving an amazing car/his own love of racing) because he’s keeping Dino pinned in third and helping Tobey win. Tobey takes the fall for manslaughter because that’s how the movie works, and then when he gets out of jail, takes the car he built and sold to a car collector to race in the De Leon because this is a car movie just go with it.

I don’t know why I spent two paragraphs talking about the plot since you should have known when you saw the words Need for Speed that this movie’s plot wouldn’t matter. Still, it just nags at me how poorly this movie is constructed at various points. It does manage to distract you at times with some awesome action sequences but the lulls in the action are just long enough for you to pull at the many many hanging threads and start to unravel what’s happening. Not to mention that the female lead (Isabelle Poots) seems to bounce between being exceedingly capable and exceedingly incompetent as the script calls for it. The male support characters aren’t much better, their names and backstories being fairly irrelevant to a majority of the film. Even the central conceit of this being about vengeance doesn’t make sense because how does winning an illegal street race and a bunch of cars clear his name (even after the writer make up a flimsy excuse to let this happen it still makes no sense). Basically, the script just seems to have problems all over the place.

One of the few things that is done right are a couple sections of dialogue that sound astoundingly realistic. However, the problem is these realistic human moments seem so wildly at odds with the rest of the film or the very scene where they’re occurring, that it all ends up being pointlessly silly.

Otherwise the direction seemed a little too slick for me. There were moments when all I wanted was a nice steady shot so I could watch the cars zoom by and look amazing, but they decided a movie where cars are traveling at triple digit speeds wouldn’t be exciting enough without a shaking camera. Much like the script, I grew increasingly frustrated with the jumpy cuts and shaky shots because it started to make things slightly confusing during the actual race sequences. The action is exciting, if sometimes serving no point, and the cars are awesome. So that’s cool.

At the end of it all, I had a lot of fun but ultimately it’s not much of a surprise that box office predictions surrounding it are getting lower and lower by the minute. As a fan of Aaron Paul I was also a bit miffed to see his first feature film be such a waste of his talent. He took Jesse “Yo Bitch” Pinkman from a one-dimensional annoying shit to a deep and tragic character you actually cared about. The lead in this could have been literally any other attractive white male.

I feel like I should just go watch Ron Howard’s Rush again because that had fast cars, hot girls, and was actually a worthwhile movie. On the actual final note, I feel the need to point out that the original The Fast and the Furious was actually a movie that had a really decently developed plot and set of characters. It was a crime flick that happened to involve a lot of cars, and it’s something that’s actually fun to rewatch. The franchise might have turned into superhuman spectacle, but even its most laughably bad installments still knew what they were about.

Maybe studios chasing that lightning in a bottle should actually see what it did right rather than just copy the trappings.


From → Movies

Leave a Comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: