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Review: Need For Speed

Mar. 12, 2014by: Eric Walkuski

PLOT: A mechanic, framed for a crime he didn't commit by his rival, vows to avenge a friend's death and defeat his enemy at a secret multi-million dollar car race.

REVIEW: Car fetishists and appreciators of extremely loud noises will surely get their rocks off during NEED FOR SPEED, the film adaptation of the EA video from the director of ACT OF VALOR. (I think "film adaptation of the EA video game from the director of ACT OF VALOR" is really all you need to know, but I'll go on.) Overflowing with brooding machismo and shiny automobiles, the movie strives to be no more than an acceptable FAST AND FURIOUS substitute, though perhaps the hope of kickstarting a franchise is in the back of its dopey head somewhere. I don't see that happening, but there is a chance it spawns another entry in the popular NEED FOR SPEED video game series, one that will be undoubtedly better constructed than this messy thing.

The movie's lone attribute is the fact it has Aaron Paul in the lead, presumably the launching pad for his career as a movie star. (He's been in films before, of course, but this is the first major post-Breaking Bad role.) Paul, with his husky voice and easy charisma, is a perfect bad boy hero for this kind of movie; just as likely to reveal his heart of gold as he is to seethe and glower. But there's no question he's better than the material, and though he must have seen this as a project capable of exposing him to a wider audience, it most definitely feels like he's slumming it.

The film's plot, such as it is, involves the rivalry between working class mechanic Tobey (Paul) and professional racer Dino (Dominic Cooper). Dino is like a villain in a 1980s high school movie: smug, entitled, has the pretty girl and the fast cars. Tobey's a good kid, living in the shadow of his father, struggling to pay his bills and keep open the shop he and his friends have opened. But of course he's the best driver around (perhaps in the entire world?), which gets under the skin of Dino, what with his massive inferiority complex. In between bouts of staring menacingly at one another, Dino accidentally kills a friend of Tobey's in a race, then flees the scene of the crime, leaving Tobey to take the blame and the jail time.

Two years later (might as well be about two hours), Tobey is out of the clink and looking for some playback. He gets the gang back together and conspires to clear his name, while also beating Dino in a super secret race held by a hyperactive racing enthusiast known as Monarch (Michael Keaton in a way over-the-top performance). Needing a car, he reaches out to pretty Julia (Imogen Poots), who he met and charmed years earlier and who has access to a souped up Ford Mustang. She's plucky and game for anything (plus, shocker, she's a girl and knows about cars!) and ends up accompanying him on a cross-country pursuit to enter the race and have a fateful showdown with Dino.

The weird thing about NEED FOR SPEED's storyline is that most of the movie is simply getting to the race. Tobey and Julia, joined by Tobey's gang of colorful co-workers, have to make it from New York to California in about two days, just in order to qualify for the "big" race. The actual race itself is only in the last 20 minutes or so, which is completely anti-climactic. Hence, much of what we see is filler, as the group avoids cops and one close call with some bad dudes looking to drive them off the road at the behest of an anxious Dino; this little subplot is absolutely hilarious and ludicrous in equal measure.

Our heroes drive, it should be said, like maniacs; in crowded streets, on highways, on roads - anywhere they go, they create carnage. It's probably going to make me sound like a grouchy old man, but their sheer disregard for anyone other than themselves makes them kind of hard to root for. When civilian cars are being smashed and crunched, you start thinking perhaps it would be a very, very good thing if these people were stopped and arrested. Hilariously, the studio has put a "don't try these stunts" disclaimer towards the end of the final credits, as if the movie's target audience will still be in the theater at that point. Perhaps if the goal seemed more noble, you could forgive all the pile-ups, as this is obviously just fantasy, but the movie's intent on making these guys appear cool and remorseless in their wanton destruction is kind of creepy.

No one expected director Scott Waugh to be capable of Oscar clip material (heavy-handed or corny are the movie's two primary modes), but his choreography of the action is shaky as well. He relies on odd angles of the races to give them some distinct flavor, but often the racing is disorienting, and his confounding depictions of the car crashes (of which there are many) are jumbled wrecks, not unlike the cars themselves after they've flipped over a few hundred times. I can't let him off the hook completely, but in his defense he's not working with anything close to an exceptional story; NEED FOR SPEED has the emotional range of a pre-teen, and while I know it's too much to expect serious intrigue or depth in a living, breathing video game, there's an amazing lack of effort put into this script. Chris Morgan's FAST AND FURIOUS screenplays might as well have been penned by David Mamet when compared to what writers George and John Gatins have created here. (John Gatins was nominated for an Oscar only a few years ago for his FLIGHT script. What happened?) The film's (unintentionally?) best line comes from Keaton: "My inbox is white hot!" Make of that what you will.

Obviously NEED FOR SPEED was not for me, and I really don't believe it will be for most. It's brash, irritating and tiresome - and 130 minutes long, an inexcusable length for a movie of such meager ambition. At around the 90 minute mark I realized the film's third act hadn't even started yet, which was very troubling indeed. For a movie that supposedly thrives on adrenaline, NEED FOR SPEED is maddeningly plodding, taking forever to get where it wants to go.

Source: JoBlo.com

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11:12AM on 03/13/2014
what Robin said I am in shock that some one can make $5097 in 1 month on the computer . you could look here http://www.mac22.com
what Robin said I am in shock that some one can make $5097 in 1 month on the computer . you could look here http://www.mac22.com
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10:57AM on 03/13/2014

Maybe not a need for speed but....

I really had no interest in seeing this movie in the first place, but was invited to an advance screening of it last night, Some of the story and situations were extremely far fetched however the movie was entertaining, and the director did a good job keeping the pacing fast, the look terrific, and the chemistry between the actors strong. Definetly not an A+ movie but easily a solid 6/10.
I really had no interest in seeing this movie in the first place, but was invited to an advance screening of it last night, Some of the story and situations were extremely far fetched however the movie was entertaining, and the director did a good job keeping the pacing fast, the look terrific, and the chemistry between the actors strong. Definetly not an A+ movie but easily a solid 6/10.
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+1
2:48AM on 03/13/2014
I actually disagree quite heavily with this. NFS isn't going to win any awards, but it's not nearly as awful as this review makes it. I would put it closer to a 5 or 6. The racing and cars, as well as stunts, are very entertaining, well choreographed, and the cinematography, as well as the music, are quite good. I can agree with the acting and story, but those I knew were going to be after thoughts. This succeeds where it counts. Of course not everyone's cup of tea, and certainly not for those
I actually disagree quite heavily with this. NFS isn't going to win any awards, but it's not nearly as awful as this review makes it. I would put it closer to a 5 or 6. The racing and cars, as well as stunts, are very entertaining, well choreographed, and the cinematography, as well as the music, are quite good. I can agree with the acting and story, but those I knew were going to be after thoughts. This succeeds where it counts. Of course not everyone's cup of tea, and certainly not for those who can't shut their brains off, but what anyone going to see this would want it to do well, it does.
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6:30PM on 03/12/2014
Wow.
I expected a mediocre rating but a 3/10? This is what happens when you make a popcorn movie far too long. Cool cars and over the top chase sequences can't hold up for 130 mins.
Wow.
I expected a mediocre rating but a 3/10? This is what happens when you make a popcorn movie far too long. Cool cars and over the top chase sequences can't hold up for 130 mins.
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1:15PM on 03/12/2014

W/E

Idc if it got a piss poor rating, you see these movies for the soul purpose of action and shit blowing up. Not for oscar winning performances. I hate when people bitch over that and expect to see something more its fuckin racing movie for crying out
Idc if it got a piss poor rating, you see these movies for the soul purpose of action and shit blowing up. Not for oscar winning performances. I hate when people bitch over that and expect to see something more its fuckin racing movie for crying out
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3:33PM on 03/12/2014
You mad bro?
You mad bro?
2:56AM on 03/13/2014
GRRRR. I'm fucking fast and furious man!!!!!!! ^&^
GRRRR. I'm fucking fast and furious man!!!!!!! ^&^
12:41PM on 03/12/2014
Too bad. Granted, video-game adaptations are generally to be avoided, but I was hoping for a '70s throwback, with Aaron Paul being not your typical lead for this kind of vehicle(no pun intended), and the race phtography looking at least partially real. A car movie doesn't need lots of substance if it's got enough style, but it does need to have momentum.
Too bad. Granted, video-game adaptations are generally to be avoided, but I was hoping for a '70s throwback, with Aaron Paul being not your typical lead for this kind of vehicle(no pun intended), and the race phtography looking at least partially real. A car movie doesn't need lots of substance if it's got enough style, but it does need to have momentum.
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12:26PM on 03/12/2014

Movie looked like shit

Jessie Pinkman aside, the movie was sure to be horrible. Based on a game with no premise, trying to be the worst fast and furious movie ever and just not having a real purpose for existing.


This movie blows.
Jessie Pinkman aside, the movie was sure to be horrible. Based on a game with no premise, trying to be the worst fast and furious movie ever and just not having a real purpose for existing.


This movie blows.
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10:47AM on 03/12/2014
Yeah this felt like it was going to be a fairly bad film. But I'm wondering how downright terrible the 3D is in the film since they only started converting it to 3D just about a month ago.
Yeah this felt like it was going to be a fairly bad film. But I'm wondering how downright terrible the 3D is in the film since they only started converting it to 3D just about a month ago.
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10:44AM on 03/12/2014
About halfway thru this review I realized that it had to be written by Eric, and sure enough when I scrolled back up it was! Which means if he says it's 3/10 it's really probably a 6/10 or 7/10.
About halfway thru this review I realized that it had to be written by Eric, and sure enough when I scrolled back up it was! Which means if he says it's 3/10 it's really probably a 6/10 or 7/10.
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2:41PM on 03/12/2014
Don't be fooled by the reviewer, this movies does in fact fuckin blow!
Don't be fooled by the reviewer, this movies does in fact fuckin blow!
10:08PM on 03/12/2014
I just usually disagree with this reviewer.
I just usually disagree with this reviewer.
9:58AM on 03/12/2014
I think it speaks to his appeal that Aaron Paul is literally the only reason I am considering seeing this. I know I'm not alone in saying that I want him to do well....but DAYUUUUM! why is this movie over 2 hours long!?
I think it speaks to his appeal that Aaron Paul is literally the only reason I am considering seeing this. I know I'm not alone in saying that I want him to do well....but DAYUUUUM! why is this movie over 2 hours long!?
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8:23AM on 03/12/2014
Good that Aaron Paul has got his chance on the big screen. A lot of actors have to go this route before landing the juicy roles. He'll find his way eventually.
Good that Aaron Paul has got his chance on the big screen. A lot of actors have to go this route before landing the juicy roles. He'll find his way eventually.
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4:11AM on 03/12/2014
I'm still confused at why this movie was based on a game that doesn't even have a storyline in the first place. It's like someone adapting Gran Turismo for the big screen. Makes no sense. Feel bad for Aaron Paul. He deserves so much better than this.
I'm still confused at why this movie was based on a game that doesn't even have a storyline in the first place. It's like someone adapting Gran Turismo for the big screen. Makes no sense. Feel bad for Aaron Paul. He deserves so much better than this.
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6:12AM on 03/12/2014
see: Battleship
see: Battleship
12:32PM on 03/12/2014
I think it's based off of the more recent Need For Speed: The Run which is more story based and from my memory has a pretty similar story to this movie
I think it's based off of the more recent Need For Speed: The Run which is more story based and from my memory has a pretty similar story to this movie
2:50AM on 03/12/2014
Not expecting anything amazing with this one at all. Just a fun film that won't insult people's intelligence too much.

And I'm thinking two hours is a little too long for a film like this.
Not expecting anything amazing with this one at all. Just a fun film that won't insult people's intelligence too much.

And I'm thinking two hours is a little too long for a film like this.
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2:45AM on 03/12/2014
I can understand why many wouldn't like this. After watching this, it took me a while to decide if it was dumb fun or just plain dumb, but I actually went with the former. The story is formulaic as all heck and the dialogue is awful (as Eric points out, it's co-written by Oscar-nominated John Gatins, no less) but the car chases did look good and utilised actual cars, never feeling like there was too much digital fakery. Nothing against CGI, but it can stick out like a sore thumb in a car movie,
I can understand why many wouldn't like this. After watching this, it took me a while to decide if it was dumb fun or just plain dumb, but I actually went with the former. The story is formulaic as all heck and the dialogue is awful (as Eric points out, it's co-written by Oscar-nominated John Gatins, no less) but the car chases did look good and utilised actual cars, never feeling like there was too much digital fakery. Nothing against CGI, but it can stick out like a sore thumb in a car movie, and I didn't feel that here. Also, this looks utterly gorgeous, props to director of photography Shane Hurlbut (he of the Terminator Salvation incident).
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2:13AM on 03/12/2014
I just think of this movie as Need For Speed The Run The Movie. I'd just watch it for cars. Aaron Paul was lovely in recent Top Gear UK episode.
I just think of this movie as Need For Speed The Run The Movie. I'd just watch it for cars. Aaron Paul was lovely in recent Top Gear UK episode.
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