‘Need for Speed,’ a fun joy ride

Aaron Paul, left, and Dominic Cooper in "Need for Speed." (Courtesy DreamWorks Pictures/MCT)

Aaron Paul, left, and Dominic Cooper in “Need for Speed.” (Courtesy DreamWorks Pictures/MCT)

 

“Need for Speed” stars Aaron Paul of “Breaking Bad” playing Tobey Marshall, a street racer who is on a cross-country adventure to gain some revenge on his ex-partner, Dino Brewster [Dominic Cooper], for killing his friend Little Pete [Harrison Gilbertson] due to aggressive driving. Dino escapes scot-free whereas Tobey does two years in jail for his involvement in the illegal street race.

As soon as Tobey gets out, he ignores his parole and goes straight for Dino, earning a bounty on his head along the way. Tobey is joined by a British woman named Julia who was involved in the selling of the main car to Tobey in the film, the Ford Mustang GT, along with his usual crew members including the scene-stealing Benny [Scott Mescudi].

A few problems with this film included some far-fetched scenarios such as how Tobey and his crew had a deadline of making it from New York all the way to California in 45 hours to make the final race and made it only 23 minutes late. How they got there is another story, including a scene involving an Apache helicopter latching onto the Mustang with only two chains which manage to carry the car hundreds of feet in the air, evading Tobey’s bounty hunters in the process. This particular scene made for some really cool visuals but seemed unrealistic.

Another problem was that a lot of Tobey’s crew members all seemed too similar. No one really stood out besides Mescudi and and one crew member who quits his nine-to-five job quits his nine-to-five job in a particularly interesting scene. Other than that, they could have eliminated some of the crew, as they all seemed interchangeable. Monarch [Michael Keaton], the energetic streaming video host of the races, seemed to get lost in the shuffle as well, and an actor of Keaton’s caliber deserves better. Tobey was a good protagonist, but every film needs that great antagonist to match and Dino just did not do it. He needed to be more intimidating and definitely was not The Joker to Tobey’s Batman.

The main highlight of the movie was the amazing camerawork, especially during all of the crash scenes. The camera made it seem like the viewer was right there in the passenger’s seat along for the ride. This movie is loosely based on a video game series of the same title and stayed true to all of the exhilarating cop car chase scenes. Another highlight was the budding romance between Tobey and Julia, which developed very nicely during the cross-country road trip. The exotic cars, California scenery and soundtrack added a nice touch as well. Director Scott Waugh seems to shy away from the under-the-hood stuff and focuses more on Tobey’s ultimate thirst for revenge of Dino. Waugh executes it well over the course of the two-hour-plus movie.

In conclusion, “Need For Speed” does a good job of entertaining you but if you are looking for more compelling characters, more exotic cars and even more over-the-top action, the “Fast and Furious” franchise is the one for you.

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