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Need For Speed

Need For SpeedDirected by Scott Waugh
Starring Aaron Paul, Dominic Cooper, Imogen Poots

One of the biggest video game franchises in the world, Need For Speed, mashes down the accelerator button in a race for big box office bucks. If it just happens to drift into the lane of one of the larger movie franchises of late, The Fast And The Furious, well that just seems like bonus points.

Tobey Marshall (Aaron Paul) is a repair shop owner by day and an illegal street racer by night. Falsely imprisoned over the accidental death of a friend, he emerges two years later bent on revenge. His best hope to clear his name and get vengeance is a high-end illegal street race, across the other side of the country and only two days away.

Adapting video games to film has been a notoriously tricky task. Often such projects will go to poor directors to be churned out with little budget, quick turn around, and zero fucks given (I’m looking at you Uwe Boll). To be fair, this is certainly not the case with Need For Speed. Plenty of money for stunt work is in evidence, the director has an extensive background in stunt work (although his first film, Act Of Valor, was uninspiring) and there are plenty of nods and winks to the source material.

Instead it seems more of a case of what works in one medium doesn’t always translate well into the other. The mission style set up in Need For Speed  robs the movie of any overarching tension, but rather seems to be a progressive series of stunts and chase sequences before moving onto the next. The dialogue is often cringe-worthy and the plot has bigger holes than an over-bored V8.

In this environment the actors do the best they can. Aaron Paul (Breaking Bad) does his best James Dean impression with popped up collar and mumbled one liners. Imogen Poots is stunning but ultimately wasted in a dull role. The only actor that seems to be making the most of things is Michael Keaton as Monarch, who gives a totally over the top performance, as if Beetlejuice was hosting Good Morning Vietnam.

With logic and dialogue clearly considered excess weight, a movie such as this lives and dies on the power of its chase sequences. Although the purely physical based car sequences are impressive, there is nothing that we have not seen before. In fact, with a host of references to previous iconic car films such as Bullitt, The Blues Brothers and American Graffiti, as well as the occasional lift, there is quite a bit we have seen here before. It’s the usual Michael Bay-inspired car porn filled with either lingering shots of supercars, confusing, rapidly edited chase scenes, or slow-mo crash sequences. All to the roar of constant engine noise.

For all the money thrown into this production, for all the obvious effort placed into the stunt work, for all the European supercars that were consigned to a fiery end, Need For Speed just fails to impress. Surprisingly pedestrian.

DAVID O’CONNELL

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