Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Film review: Need For Speed

Director: Scott Waugh    
Writers: George Gatins (screenplay), George Gatins & John Gatins (story)
Featuring: Aaron Paul, Dakota Johnson, Imogen Poots, Dominic Brewster & Michael Keaton

Review by Allan Tong

Need For Speed is a car racing flick based on a popular video game.  That's no surprise to anyone watching the first two minutes of this movie.  Need For Speed is an excuse to watch cars blaze down American highways, leap over freeway traffic, smash into cop cars, and hover in mid-air by helicopter.  This is basically a racing game with intermittent dialogue.

The movie marks Aaron Paul's debut as a movie star.  Paul, of course, was the co-star of (probably) the greatest television series ever, Breaking Bad.  However, there's no trace of Jesse Pinkman in Need For Speed and unfortunately none of the depth of his character or of Paul's searing performance found in this movie.  Paul plays Tobey, a master car racing mechanic and driver and generally nice guy.  He holds a grudge against an old nemesis, Dino (Dominic Brewster), and takes the fall when a drag race between Tobey, Dino and Tobey's friend ends in Dino cutting off the buddy and killing him in a horrific crash.  Tobey goes to prison for Dino's crime while Dino enjoys the life of a racing star.

Flashforward to Tobey's release who immediately breaks his parole by driving across country to a secret high-stakes race in California, bankrolled by a former racing star (Michael Keaton in a delicious cameo).  Dino catches wind of Tobey's plan and tries to thwart him.

No spoilers here, but the film is predictable from bumper to bumper.  There's nothing wrong with Paul's performance, but the again his character is one-dimensional like everyone in this movie.  Unfortunately, a polar vortex trapped Paul in New York so he couldn't attend the Toronto preview last month to explain why he took this role.  With his acting talents, couldn't he have chosen a meatier film?

Need For Speed is racing porn--chock full of burning rubber and blazing crashes.  If you're looking for forgettable, high-speed escape, this is it.

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