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article imageReview: Film satisfies the ‘Need for Speed’ Special

By Sarah Gopaul     Mar 14, 2014 in Entertainment
In ‘Need for Speed,’ a street racer framed by a wealthy adversary joins a cross country race to get revenge while trying to stay a step ahead of police and bounty hunters.
Fast cars going breakneck speeds for no other purpose than to earn the respect of their fellow drivers (and the winner-take-all stake on the line). This was the initial premise of The Fast and the Furious franchise, but it's evolved into an action commodity. Still, in spite of that movie's popularity and its kinship with the multi-release racing video game, a big screen adaptation of Need for Speed took more than 10 years to roll up to the line. It's not a perfect run but it delivers the goods.
Racing local gear heads to pay the bills, Tobey's crew know he is something special when he gets behind the wheel. If they could get him into an exclusive race held annually by an eccentric millionaire (Michael Keaton), they'd be set for life. But when a long-time rivalry takes a tragic turn, all plans are put on hold and the only thing left is vengeance. Saddled with a female right seat (Imogen Poots), Tobey (Aaron Paul) sets out to right a wrong the only way he knows how — on the track.
This film is pure and simply a car movie. With streamlined exotic beauties such as the Koenigsegg Agera R, Lamborghini Elemento, McLaren P1, Ferrari Enzo, Bugatti Veyron, Saleen S7 and GTA Spano gracing the screen, it's enough to ignite even the lowest level car enthusiasts. But their statuses do not put them above some of the most brutal turnovers and crashes captured on screen. There's a lot of air and plenty of debris. In addition, one cannot forget the muscle cars that can warrant a noise complaint when operated with a heavy foot, including a "priceless," modified Mustang GT500 (and other variations), a '68 Chevy Camaro, '69 Ford Torino and a '67 Pontiac GTO.
A scene from  Need for Speed
A scene from 'Need for Speed'
DreamWorks Pictures
The cars are not the only element to make it from the video game. There are police pursuits — which include air support on both sides – that move into oncoming traffic, as well as the need to flee from bounty hunters willing to do anything to collect the reward. There are drag races inspired by more recent generations of the game. And races that take drivers down twisting narrow roads alongside stunning landscapes. These are viewed from various perspectives, including air and first-person from within the car.
However, audiences shouldn't be surprised it doesn't offer much more than this. The storyline is weak and even though it skips significant chunks of time, including a prime montage opportunity, it's too long at just more than two hours. The lead males, Paul and Dominic Cooper, are flat, trying too hard to be dark and tough — a personality Vin Diesel exemplified as Dominic Toretto more than a decade ago. Most of the charm is provided by the supplementary characters. Scott Mescudi, Rami Malek and Harrison Gilbertson are Tobey’s wisecracking accomplices who rarely fail to amuse when on screen. Meanwhile Keaton is akin to a fast-talking radio personality narrating the competition and Poots is sassier than she looks.
Don’t waste the money on 3D as most of the film is flat anyway and it reduces the luminosity of the brilliant cars. But see it for what it is: cool cars doing crazy stunts directed by a seasoned stunt coordinator (Scott Waugh).
Director: Scott Waugh
Starring: Aaron Paul, Dominic Cooper and Imogen Poots
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