‘Need for Speed’ does not translate to the big screen

Aaron Paul wants to be known for more than just be­ing that guy from Break­ing Bad. Need for Speed is not the vehicle that will get him to that point.

Based on the pop­u­lar video game from Elec­tron­ic Arts, Need for Speed tells the tale of a street racer who is out for ven­geance. The racer, To­bey Mar­shall (Paul), gets sent to pris­on after his buddy Little Pete (Har­ris­on Gil­bertson) dies dur­ing a race. To­bey knows there was a third racer on the scene re­spons­ible for Pete’s death, and that per­son was his en­emy Dino (Domin­ic Cooper). Dino fled the scene, thus for­cing To­bey to take the fall.

Once To­bey is fresh out of pris­on, he de­cides the best way to get even with Dino is by driv­ing across the coun­try to par­ti­cip­ate in some secret race called the De Le­on, which is con­sidered the Su­per Bowl of street races. To­bey pulls some stunts to get the in­vite from a kooky guy known as Mon­arch (Mi­chael Keaton). To race, To­bey needs to get from New York to Cali­for­nia in less than two days. He gets a fancy Ford Mus­tang and a sidekick/love in­terest Ju­lia (Imo­gen Poots) and away they go. Dino puts a bounty on To­bey, hop­ing to take him out be­fore he gets to Cali so he won’t make it to the De Le­on.

I had trouble root­ing for To­bey be­cause I find street ra­cing on pub­lic roads and high­ways a bone­headed (not to men­tion dan­ger­ous) thing to do. Oh, and it is also very il­leg­al. So I can’t quite get be­hind a film that glor­i­fies this activ­ity. That’s prob­ably why I’m not a big fan of the The Fast and the Furi­ous flicks. Though I will say this film does show the dangers of ra­cing, too, with the death. And there is a “do not try this at home” dis­claim­er be­fore the end­ing cred­its.

With all that said, as­sum­ing ra­cing is something that you’re in­ter­ested in, Need for Speed will cer­tainly hold your at­ten­tion. Dir­ect­or Scott Waugh made sure the ra­cing scenes were well done. There are lots of stunts (said to be filmed without CGI), and the ac­tion is some­times pulse-ra­cing. The cars are lov­ingly filmed. I screened the film in 3-D and I would sug­gest po­ten­tial view­ers save their money and see the film in 2-D. I didn’t think 3-D ad­ded any­thing ex­tra to the movie.

When the ac­tion stops, the movie loses steam. A large part of the film is To­bey and Ju­lia in the car to­geth­er driv­ing to Cali­for­nia. And I just didn’t care much about them. The plot is for­mu­laic and pre­dict­able. There are no standout per­form­ances and no mem­or­able char­ac­ters. I also didn’t think Aaron Paul was the right guy for the lead part. Film­makers cast him “against type,” and it didn’t work for me. He doesn’t ooze enough “cool­ness,” and I think that is a needed qual­ity for a role like this. Rap­per Kid Cudi (he goes by his real name Scott Mes­cudi in the cred­its) of­fers some com­ic re­lief and does a de­cent job. And Domin­ic Cooper wasn’t enough of an evil vil­lain to me.

When it comes to game versus movie, though I’ve nev­er played it, I think sit­ting at home play­ing the video game would be a lot more fun rather than watch­ing Need for Speed on the big screen. ••

Movie Grade: C

You can reach at shorbrook@bsmphilly.com.

comments powered by Disqus