Need for Speed Movie Review
Need for Speed Movie Review Metadata
This Aaron Paul (AMC’s Breaking Bad) headlined flick isn’t without its technical problems (primarily the ridiculous writing), but once you accept it for what it-is, then you might just enjoy yourself. Need for Speed is in theaters this Friday, March 14th, 2013.
Paul plays Tobey Marshall, a blue-collar street racer. His passion for illegal racing results in the death of his close friend, Little Pete (Harrison Gilbertson), sending himself to prison for manslaughter. Marshall took the blame because his long-time rival and billionaire businessman Dino Brewster (Dominic Cooper) skipped the horrific scene, pinning the accident on Marshall. He does his time and sets out for revenge. Need for Speed never justifies Marshall’s retribution game plan, we are only to conclude that winning the De Leon (a super secret high-stakes race) is “how he will make things right”. It’s not until we meet Marshall’s two love interests and the loud-mouth Monarch (Michael Keaton), do we (and Marshall) learn how this race could possibly bring Brewster to justice.
It’s important to remember that Need for Speed is based on a video game, and one that’s never relied on incredible backstory. It was always about the beautiful cars and the racing mechanics. In many ways, Scott Waugh (director) and George Gatins (story) translate that tradition extraordinarily. Need for Speed features some of the most expensive and downright badass machines on the planet. Stunts are real, like really real. There are some terrific showcases of cinematography sprinkled throughout, and even Detroit gets some love! In that respect, this film is a guilty pleasure.
But it has problems. For one, Marshall’s motivations are flawed, as is the entire premise of the film. Illegal street racing is stupid and selfish. Second, the screenplay makes some egregious miscalculations. Paul has to work with tired lines from every movie in history, lines such as “[Pete]he’s like a brother to me”, and “they took everything from me”. Keaton is a narrator at best; he’s relegated to explaining the movie’s plot motivations- the task the entire first hour of the movie could not translate.
If not for it’s technical merits, the stunts and the multiple tributes it makes to the great racing flicks that preceded it, Need for Speed would not be half as entertaining. Any doubts of Paul as a leading man (in an action role) can rest easy, but his supporting “pit crew” have something to do with his success. Accept it for what it is and you’ll be pleasantly surprised, or at the very least, moderately entertained.