Like Fast and Furious meets Rush without coherent dialogue or plot
Need for Speed is the upcoming movie adaptation of the popular video game series of the same name. It seems like a cynical move, cashing in on a pre-established brand name and the success of the Fast and Furious franchise. Yet with director Scott Waugh (Act of Valor) and Emmy-winner Aaron Paul (Breaking Bad), it seemed like they might be able to pull off a smart, car-racing drama, in the vein of Ron Howard's under-appreciated Rush. The result, however, is filled with some awesome racing sequences, and lots of cliches.
What worked: The car races are loud, intense, and a hell of a lot of fun. Waugh opted to film all of the car stunts practically, even putting his actors through stunt driving school to get shots of them actually driving. It pays off in the action sequences, as does his guerrilla style of shooting. You can tell that the expensive car you are watching is really flipping through the air with an expensive camera strapped onto it. There is a stunt about midway through (that has kind of been spoiled in the marketing) that will make your jaw drop, and it makes the climax seem a little underwhelming in comparison. There were also some really gratifying moments of triumph were the music sweeps over you. Finally, Aaron Paul is good as the talented and stern racer, though he is given pretty simple dialogue to work with.
What didn't work: Almost all of the dialogue is pretty bad, and the plot doesn't make any sense. That's 100% not the reason anyone goes to see Need for Speed, though, so it doesn't really matter. The movie falls into a lot of generic action movie cliches, especially when it comes to the romantic subplot with Imogen Poots (That Awkward Moment). The comedic relief from Scott Mescudi (aka "Kid Cudi") and Michael Keaton (Bettlejuice) is weird and it falls a little flat. And, although it is to be expected, this film has the most blatant product placement since The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. I'm talking about 5% of the movie being devoted to closeups of the car logos, and people going on about how great that brand's cars are.
Overall, Need for Speed is just OK. The plot and dialogue are mediocre, but the action is really great, especially the racing scene at the midpoint of the movie. The visuals of the film are made even more impressive because of the fact that all of the stunts were preformed without the use of CGI. Check it out if you're in the mood for some dumb, nonsensical, car-racing fun.
Need for Speed comes out March 14th.
Rating: 2/5 Stars