Need for Speed review

Scott Waugh
Aaron Paul
Dominic Cooper
Imogen Poots
Scott Mescudi
Harrison Gilbertson
Rated: PG-13

Video game fans will have to wait for another adaption if they want to see something good.
“Need for Speed” follows the story of a mechanic named Tobey (Paul), who is facing some financial hardships when it comes to his repair shop. That doesn’t stop him and his friends from enjoying some leisurely street racing from time to time, though.

One night after a race Tobey gets a visit from his old rival and professional driver Dino Brewster (Cooper). Dino makes a deal with Tobey and the shop crew to fix up a car in exchange for a large sum of money. After the job is finished, though, Dino challenges Tobey and his younger friend Peter (Harrison Gilbertson) to a street race. The race turns out to be deadly as Peter loses his life in an accident and Tobey is sent to prison. Upon his release him and his crew decide to enter an underground race competition that Dino will also partake in to get revenge.

This video game adaption starts off rather messy and never puts itself together enough to be a good action flick like it wants to be. The race in the first act that killed the character Tobey’s friend was basically a dangerous joy ride where death could have happened at any moment, especially when they are driving towards oncoming traffic. It basically led to a lack of caring about Peter’s death which didn’t fuel any of the major motivation that the film’s protagonist had.

As the film goes on, the middle act becomes somewhat of a road trip movie and Tobey spends time with a character named Julia (Poots). During this time the movie sets up a somewhat underwhelming romance. At the same time, Tobey is trying to get his old crew back together to help him win the big race, however, this just leads to some nonsensical scenes with forced humor.

For example there is a scene where one of the members of Tobey’s crew is asked to quit his job to help with the race, the reason is that the car Tobey is driving needs something repaired. Tobey’s friend then proceeds to quit his job by stripping down to make some sort of statement. The scene is way too long, unfunny and in the end the guy doesn’t even fix the car.

In terms of acting, it wasn’t all bad, both Aaron Paul and Imogen Poots actually do provide somewhat good leads, with both of them trying to raise the material to a higher level than what it actually is.

The real problem comes from the supporting cast. Dominic Cooper, who is a talented actor, just seems to phone in his performance and the rest of the supporting cast is given unfunny material that no one could actually make work. On top of that, most of the supporting cast, mainly Tobey’s crew, come off as generic stereotypes and don’t even have much of an impact on the story itself.

The most ridiculous performance, though, comes from Michael Keaton, who plays the mastermind behind the big race and at the same time produces a video podcast about racing and breaking the law. For a movie that seemed like it wanted to be taken seriously for most of the runtime, Keaton’s character was a really poor contrast, being way too over the top.

To the film’s credit, there were some great racing and chasing scenes, with many of the effects being practical rather than relying too heavily on CGI. The problem is that the plot is so razor thin and there is such a lack of motivation behind what the characters are doing that it creates a lack of caring about what’s going on. Even some of the major action sequences came off as dull do to a lack of investment towards anything that was happening in the story.

“Need for Speed” suffers in some key areas that break a movie. The plot doesn’t hold up, many of the characters are just lame stereotypes and any thing resembling good acting comes from a small portion of the film’s cast. It all makes it difficult to care, which in turn makes all of the wild action lose its luster. There are too many inconsistencies and bad points about the film to even recommend it as a simple popcorn flick. 1 out of 5.

Author: Matthew Liedke

Journalist and film critic in Minnesota. Graduate of Rainy River College and Minnesota State University in Moorhead. Outside of movies I also enjoy sports, craft beers and the occasional video game.

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