Posted March 9, 2014 by editor in Film Reviews

Need For Speed Review


This may not have seemed like much of a prospect being an adaptation of a video game, and coming out in the early quarter of the year. But to be honest, Need For Speed (despite some glaring flaws) can actually be a fun time out at the cinema.

Now this film is no Fast Five, or Fast Six for that matter. If anything it’s more on par with the dumb fun of 2 Fast 2 Furious. Need For Speed starts with very little enthusiasm or confidence: the plotline is a bit messy, but there is plenty of car action – each fairly different from the last. We get car action on the test track, in the country and also in urban settings. Sometimes it’s putting the foot to the peddle to make time; sometimes as part of a three-way race; sometimes as part of a police chase; or even a bounty hunt; and of course, by the end, as part of a competition.  The plot of the film makes sure that the car action is given a different scenario each time in order to keep it fresh.

Speaking of which – Aaron Paul is Tobey Marshall, a young driver and mechanic who like most of the other young men here (be it one of his garage buddies or nemesis on the scene Dominic Cooper) can think of nothing better to do with their time at their age that to drive like a bunch of dickheads endangering no end of civilians and animals along the way. So already anyone over a certain age group is going to wonder nervously if indeed we should invest any sympathy for this guy.  And that comes to a head when in one particularly stupid race that one of his friends is killed in an accident (or did Dominic Cooper’s spoiled bad guy Dino Brewster cause it?).  Brewster does a runner, Marshall heads to the slammer for a couple of years and when he is out it’s quite simply “Payback time!”  And the best way to do that when you are just out of the joint on certain charges is to break parole, and break the law by entering into an illegal car race, and to get there by racing your car as illegally as possible to get there.

If we didn’t mention it already – it’s probably best to check your brain at the door and just soak up the fun. Because there is plenty to be had – and plenty of racing too!

The trouble with some of this is the frantic editing. Now there are some decent shots and stunts on display, but sometimes to get the audience in the mood you need to give them longer shots of the action as it happens. Far too often we’d see the car perspective approaching tight bends and instead of following through, the film cuts to Aaron Paul frowning as he steers (Who at the wrong angles looks like a young Phil Mitchell). This may tell us that he is having a tough and exciting time, but it all too often cuts us short of feeling the turns ourselves. Having said that – overall the stunts and action for a 12 certificate are good enough.

The cast is what makes the film though. Yes ok Imogen Poots is terrible to begin with and does most of her acting through goggle-eyed stares she may have learnt on a catwalk. But as Aaron Paul (and us) are forced to sit with her for the middle section of the film she slowly starts to make an impression.

Paul’s cohorts are a mixed back of lunatics. But as much as their eye in the sky Benny, Scott Mescudi becomes more and more two dimensional and annoying. Another one of his team Finn (Rami Malek) steals some big laughs in the film with his wacky behaviour (and perhaps one of the best shot “I Quit My Job” scenes in cinema history). By the end you do have kind of a feel of the team. The prospect of a sequel and Need for Speed becoming it’ own car-based franchise like the Fast and the Furious is not too shabby a prospect. If TF&TF can grow and change focus, so could Need For Speed. This may all come down to the money at the box office, but worth bearing in mind as they have the ingredients to go forward.

Michael Keaton pays the online DJ who sets up the main event, and regular visits to his motor mouth hosting gives the film a bit of energy – as well as helping to direct the plot. Dominic Cooper on villain duties and delivers a decent American accent, if also one of the most childish bad guys (seriously what pushes this guys buttons is insanely stupid) in a film for a while. As for Paul himself – it’s clear that he is more than capable of carrying a film, so this is not too bad a move after he finished with Breaking Bad.

But Need For Speed is a straight three star event. There are as many flaws as there are highs. But at least the intention here and the effort made is not as lazy as perhaps one might expect.

3 Stars




Steven Hurst