Scott Waughís Need for Speed is a loud and proud B-movie. Itís ridiculous, and itís also more fun than you might expect. Saying itís the best film ever adapted from a video game might be exactly the right amount of qualified praise.
Aaron Paul stars as Tobey Marshall, a garage owner and legendary gearhead in upstate New York. His business is in financial trouble, and he needs more cash than the thousands of dollars he wins in street races to keep the doors open. Enter Dino Brewster (Dominic Cooper), a champion driver and former rival to Tobey. Dino hires Tobey to fix up a Ford Mustang into something he can sell to an interested buyer for millions of dollars. Tobey is reluctant to work with the man now dating his old girlfriend, but he needs the 25 percent cut of the sale that Dino offers.
After the work and deal are complete, Dino challenges Tobey to a street race in which the winner will take home millions. Always up for a challenge, he accepts, but it ends in the death of a friend and a two-year prison sentence for Tobey. Once heís released, the only thing on his mind is getting revenge by competing in the De Leon, a lucrative Cannonball Run-like event organized by an uber-wealthy car nut (Michael Keaton).
In order to enter the De Leon in time, Tobey must drive from New York to San Francisco in about 48 hours in the tricked-out Mustang he built. Coming along for the ride is Julia (Imogen Poots), the thrill-seeking daughter of the millionaire who bought the vehicle.
Right from the start, as scenes from Bullitt play at a drive-in where street racers have gathered, Need for Speed lets you know what matters -- fast cars, tough guys, and spectacular vehicular destruction. The movie gets the most essential element of any racing flick right: It moves. The plot is laugh-out-loud ridiculous, but that doesnít matter. The inventive stunts look like they were done without any digital tweaking, and this makes the whole production feel grounded in reality in a way that The Fast and the Furious franchise, an easy point of comparison, never bothers with. This movie is cartoonish, whereas Vin Diesel and company are making full-on cartoons.
Aaron Paul helps us believe in this joyous nonsense. Heís a good actor, and heís always reacting to other people in his scenes instead of winking at the audience. Although he occasionally lapses into a silly tough-guy voice, heís also a credible romantic lead in the middle of this mayhem. He and Poots play off each other with great charm and little fuss, and their easy rapport as they elude cops and bounty hunters proves infectious. Throw in some silly bits of business for each member of Tobeyís crew, more police-cruiser carnage than the end of The Blues Brothers, and Michael Keaton chewing scenery like heís still in Beetlejuice, and youíve got all the ingredients necessary for testosterone-fueled fun.
Need for Speed is the kind of film that reveals the folly of assigning movies star ratings or letter grades. By any objective definition itís a brainless mess. That said, itís a mess made with old-fashioned skill, acted with gusto, and delivered with an appreciation for the outrageous that never devolves into outright camp. If you listen closely enough, you feel like you might be able to hear director Scott Waugh laughing at the craziest sequences right along with you.
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- Released: 2014
- Rating: PG-13
- Review: Scott Waughís Need for Speed is a loud and proud B-movie. Itís ridiculous, and itís also more fun than you might expect. Saying itís the best film ever adapted from a video game might be exactly the right amount of qualified praise. Aaron Paul star… (more)
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