Racing movies can generate box office gold. Vin Diesel has practically made a career out of it. So, it’s no surprise others try to cash in. Today’s entry, Need For Speed, doesn’t have the horsepower to compete.
Synopsis: An exciting return to the great car-culture films of the 1960s and ’70s. In a last attempt to save his struggling garage, blue-collar mechanic Tobey Marshall (Aaron Paul) and his team reluctantly partner with wealthy, arrogant ex-NASCAR driver Dino Brewster (Dominic Cooper). Just as a major sale to car broker Julia Bonet (Imogen Poots) looks like it will save the business, a disastrous, unsanctioned race results in Dino framing Tobey for manslaughter. -Disney
Car race revenge ensues.
Unfortunately, this one hasn’t got much under the hood. The primary flaw is George Gatin’s writing. His only writing credit, according to IMDB and Rottentomatoes. It shows. The story is formulaic, the dialogue abysmal, and dramatic confrontations so bad they belong in a Spanish soap opera. In fact, just 2 minutes into the film, I leaned over to a friend and whispered who would die, what the threat was, and how it resolves. Minutes later, the red-shirt was dead. Additional condemnation goes to the insanely unrealistic setups and resolutions. In fact, once the film concludes into what looks like a happy ending, ask yourself what happened to the nemesis’s wife…or the good guy’s garage…or the millionaire’s $3 million car. The film isn’t grounded in reality, and doesn’t resolve terribly nicely. Even the original crime suffers from several defeating logical contradictions. Aaron Paul’s very odd, gravely, rebel voice doesn’t belong in the film either. It’s somewhere between George Clooney and professional wrestler.
One last criticism, perhaps most important to some: the juvenile preoccupation with the size of peoples’ genitals. Nearly every character seems compelled to comment on this person’s big set and that person’s small endowment. Even the female character has something to say. It’s sad.
What’s good? Car racing and comic relief – especially, the stunt driving. The stunts are all real – no CGI, and it’s amazing.
I’d say the cars themselves too, but a race between a modified Mustang, Bugatti Veyron, and Konigsegg isn’t a fair fight. The Veyron is technically supreme, but insanely heavy – over 4,000 lbs. The Konigsegg is, quite literally, 1,000 lbs lighter. If the race were on a straightaway, two cars that can hit 60 in 2.5 seconds would be a neat race. But this race is on miles of heavily winding public roads, littered with obstacles, and my immediate thought is that the extra half ton of the Veyron would automatically put it at a disadvantage. (Think breaking and maneuverability.) As long as you ignore the fact that the final race isn’t all that balanced, all the other street racing and stunts are amazing.
The comedy stands out as well. One character is responsible for most of the comedy, and it’s almost like watching a different film whenever he enters a scene. Another character quits his job, and as juvenile as that scene is, it so validates what’s probably a near universal secret wish, that it’s hard to do anything but laugh along in vicarious solidarity.
Will fans turn out for this one? It will be interesting to see. If you think you’re one of them, turn your brain off, strap yourself in, and just go along for the ride.
Copyright 2014 Walt Disney Studios.