It’s depressing when you know your favorite hobbies can’t seem to get along. Last week, I wrote a list of the ten worst video game movies for Gamemoir. I had an easy time compiling the list since there are so many awful films based on video games. In fact, I’m extremely happy whenever I see a movie based on a video game but my happiness gets crushed the instant I watch them because they’re usually so bad.
When it was announced they were making a movie based on the Need For Speed franchise, I made a conscious effort not to get too hyped up by it. The trailer looked good and it does have Jesse Pinkman from Breaking Bad in it. Dare I say the movie has a chance to actually be good?
Long story short, Need For Speed is a very entertaining and will get your heart racing (pun intended). But you really have to turn off your brain to enjoy it to its fullest. Read on to see what I mean…
Need For Speed stars Aaron Paul as Tobey Marshall, a blue-collar guy who just happens to be an excellent street racer. When his friend is accidentally killed during a race with Dino Brewster, his arch-rival, Tobey is arrested for manslaughter while Dino manages to cover up his involvement in the death. After two month, Tobey decides to get revenge on Dino in the only way he knows how: beat him in the most high profile illegal street race, the De Leon.
While watching the movie, I had to check my watch just to make sure I wasn’t in the 80’s! Yes, they used the incredibly tired old “get revenge on the man that killed my girlfriend/wife/family/best friend” story that was so popular during the era. The story is pretty absurd all throughout and there are plenty of times when you’ll question the reasoning behind the character’s thought processes. There are also a lot of times when the film will take huge logical leaps as they don’t make sense. If you try to count all of the plot holes and stupid events that happen, you’ll drown in a torrent of numbers. So don’t resist the stupidity of the film. Just let it wash over you.
Speaking of the 80’s, like the movies from the time, all of the characters are one-dimensional. Tobey fills the strong and silent protagonist role. Dino is the rich, arrogant douchebag you need as the typical villain. The rest of the cast are mostly filler and are just there to take up space. There are a couple of standouts performances. Michael Keaton’s energetic performance as Monarch, the creative and charismatic mastermind behind the De Leon, is fun to watch. Keaton just seems to be relishing the role and it’s a delight to watch him here.
The other actor that does a good job is Aaron Paul as Tobey. Now, I was fully expecting to just act like Jesse Pinkman, the role that made him famous. But, no. I totally forgot he was the junkie drug dealer in Breaking Bad! I was pleasantly surprised by this development and it does show that the guy’s got some range and not just a one-note actor. I hope to see him in other roles in the future. However, the rest of the cast seem to be phoning in their lines and any scene that do not have Tobey or Monarch in them are boring and uninteresting.
Then again, the people aren’t the stars of the show. It’s the racing that headline the movie. And all the scenes with the cars running at blazing speed are fantastic! It’s refreshing to see actual dangerous driving sequences with powerful cars instead of the safer (and cheaper) alternative of using CGI and special effects. If you like crazy car stunts, you’ll definitely get your fill here. They didn’t mess around with the stunt choreography at all!
And there are a lot of race scenes to be found in Need For Speed! All of them are pretty impressive. However, this also became a problem for the movie since the De Leon, the climax of the film, wasn’t as good as the previous races. The high speed chases leading up to the De Leon were much better by comparison. That’s not to say the final race wasn’t good; it just wasn’t as good as the other ones.
Like I said, Need For Speed is a dumb and stupid movie. But it’s a great popcorn film filled with exciting stunts that are amazing to see unfold on the big screen. It’s a good movie and it comes incredibly close to being a great movie but it loses out by a nose.
Have you seen Need For Speed? What did you think of it? Let me know by putting your thoughts on the film in the comments section below!