SYNOPSIS: DreamWorks Pictures’ “Need for Speed” marks an exciting return to the great car culture films of the 1960s and ’70s, when the authenticity of the world brought a new level of intensity to the action on-screen. Tapping into what makes the American myth of the open road so appealing, the story chronicles a near-impossible cross-country journey for our heroes — one that begins as a mission for revenge, but proves to be one of redemption. Based on the most successful racing video game franchise ever with over 140 million copies sold, "Need for Speed" captures the freedom and excitement of the game in a real-world setting, while bringing to life the passion for the road that has made our love of cars so timeless.
The film centers around Tobey Marshall (Aaron Paul), a blue-collar mechanic who races muscle cars on the side in an unsanctioned street-racing circuit. Struggling to keep his family-owned garage afloat, he reluctantly partners with the wealthy and arrogant ex-NASCAR driver Dino Brewster (Dominic Cooper). But just as a major sale to car broker Julia Maddon (Imogen Poots) looks like it will save Tobey's shop, a disastrous race allows Dino to frame Tobey for a crime he didn’t commit, and sending Tobey to prison while Dino expands his business out West.
Two years later, Tobey is released and set on revenge — but he knows his only chance to take down his rival Dino is to defeat him in the high-stakes race known as De Leon — the Super Bowl of underground racing. However to get there in time, Tobey will have to run a high-octane, action-packed gauntlet that includes dodging pursuing cops coast-to-coast as well as contending with a dangerous bounty Dino has put out on his car. With the help of his loyal crew and the surprisingly resourceful Julia, Tobey defies odds at every turn and proves that even in the flashy world of exotic supercars, the underdog can still finish first.
REVIEW: From Director Scott Waugh (Act of Valor, 2012) and Breaking Bad's Aaron Paul with co-stars British born actress Imogen Gay Poots (That Awkward Moment, 2012), Michael Keaton (RoboCop, 2014) and Kid Cudi (Maniac, 2011); they bring us this action packed adaptation of the well-known and long-running racing videogame series. The trailers have been pretty awesome; however, I was cautiously looking forward to the full length movie. And like most, I think the main worry was whether the trailers, which feature some relatively serious exotic performance cars, would basically be the only scenes featuring those cars. Also what is the big white elephant in the room here is that one cannot look at any car movie without comparing it to the Fast & Furious franchise. So, I was concerned that “Need for Speed” would only show the exotics for the same amount of time that F&F featured the GTR, Koenigsegg, FXX, and other exotics. Surprisingly enough, this latest release really keeps the rare cars around throughout the entire 130 minute playtime of the movie. And as a car enthusiast, I have to say that these look great and oh so awesomely expensive. Certainly most enthusiasts, like I will enjoy seeing them crash and burn because watching $160,000+ automobiles be destroyed can make anybody’s day that much better; not to mention drool over them as well.
Nicely inserted in the action is Saleen Automotive, Inc., the American specialty manufacturer of high performance vehicles, technical performance parts, lifestyle accessories and apparel. They seem to be onboard here with both feet in (so to speak), which was quite pleasing if you are an American muscle car fan (especially a Ford Mustang fan).
Needless to say, the acting will win no awards here and will quite possibly draw a ton of criticism, I’m sure. The plot is certainly not the greatest in the world and the movie really is a bit too predictable, for my taste. But then again so were the early releases of the F&F franchise series. They too stumbled quite a bit with the same shortcomings, though they shot to worldwide fame. If you are looking for a good plot and great acting, my advice would be to go find some other action movie to watch. It seems that none of those elements were meant to be front and center here. Exotic cars, exotic women and spectacular car chases is where it’s at here. This movie seems to be for people who care more about the Sesto Elemento (car) and the actual videogame, rather than an interesting plot twist and narrative. Needless to say, I wasn’t expecting much when it came to the plot progression and star-power.
The bottom line is that I had low expectations, but loved the exotic cars, the outstanding chase scenes, the wicked Drifting, and the police cruisers flying off the roads left right and center. Given all considerations, the racing scenes and car selection are unmatched and definitely more than enough reason for car-crazy fans and gaming enthusiast alike, to enjoy it. Four out of five stars are reasonable here and I definitely recommend checking this movie out in the theaters to truly indulge in the sounds and rhythms of this flick. If not possibly, then a simple DVD rental will certainly suffice.
By Movi-Man Stan
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