Need for Speed is exactly what it wants be, is a solid representation of the game and, terrible dialogue aside, was a mostly fun time at the movies.
Need for Speed’s story is one of revenge, as our hero, Tobey Marshall, must track down his driving nemesis who killed his buddy in a street race that ended up putting Marshall in jail. To do this he has to get across the country in 48 hours, convince a rich race programmer to put him in his top secret pink slip race and all of this while avoiding the authorities and bounties put out trying to stop him. Yeah, that script doesn’t make a whole lot of sense either.
There isn’t a developed character in the film, every time someone opens their mouth there is a good chance they are going to say something stupid and the film is too long, but I still enjoyed myself. There are plenty of set pieces sprinkled throughout the film that work to varying effect, but the two big ones that bookend the film are both great. I am not even some car nut or something. I do not enjoy the Fast & Furious films, but Need for Speed is grounded in reality and is not the sort of superhero action film that series has become.
Aaron Paul is fine enough in the lead, but I really wish he had some better material to work with in his big screen breakout role. He actually elevates a couple of the big emotional scenes of the film and the final race has stakes for the viewer because of him. Imogen Poots is having fun in her role and doesn’t let it turn her into a simple eye candy damsel. Dominic Cooper hams it up with the ridiculous villain role he is put in and does so without going over the top.
The strongest asset the film has going for it is a fantastic technical presentation on every level. The film looks tremendous and director Scott Waugh and his team make every wide shot as appealing as the in car stuff. The 3D puts you right in the car with these guys as the 3D presentation is as strong as the best examples out there. The car racing is fluid and easy to follow, minus making all your cars red in the finale, and all of the set pieces make you feel every close call in the streets. The film also sounds fantastic, making this a movie that is going to be enjoyed the most in the best theater you can find. The only ding against the technical side of things is that the film could have trimmed some fat and tightened up the picture. It feels long and there is no reason this film needed to be over the two hour limit.
There isn’t a whole lot to say about Need for Speed, other than that I had a good time. On paper, the film is kind of a mess, but the visuals and action choreography go a long way as they make up the majority of the picture. Fans of the Fast & Furious series, the car racing genre, or the video game series the film is based on will find plenty to enjoy here and I wouldn’t try to turn them away in the slightest.
Need for Speed is a C+