Need for Speed



Jarrett Rodriguez, A&E Editor

This is not your little brother’s video game. In fact, save for the title of the film, it has very little in common with the license it comes from. “Need For Speed” is all about one thing: the cars. There is a semi-decent plot, but in the end, it’s the cars that steal the show.

The story itself is a straight-forward revenge tale, where mechanic Tobey Marshall (played by “Breaking Bad” star Aaron Paul) sets out to make it from New York to San Francisco to join a race worth millions and avenge the death of his friend at the hands of rival Dino Brewster (Dominic Cooper.) Along the way he falls in love with his co-pilot Julia (played by Imogen Poots) and is helped by his mechanic friends at the same time. The story is very generic at first glance and a lot of people will write this off as a stupid “Fast and Furious” clone, but rest assured this is not a clone.

The reason that “Need For Speed” stands out is the cars. Oh, the cars. Director Scott Waugh took this project on the grounds that he would be allowed to make a car movie with no special effects. As the son of a legendary stuntman and a stuntman himself, he grew up idolizing the stunt work in movie classics like “Bullet,” “Vanishing Point,” and “Smokey and the Bandit.”

The “Fast and Furious” movies could take a cue from this. All the stunts in the film were real and it is what gives this movie a boost of street credit. There is nothing more exciting than watching beautiful cars smash into each other at high speeds without CGI effects. This gives “Need For Speed” an edge over the “Fast and Furious” movies.

As far as the acting goes, it was solid, if a little underwhelming. Aaron Paul plays a great wheelman, and though he’s a little over the top at times, it is still entertaining. His crew is a little more animated, and together they have some funny moments. Scott Mescudi (Kid Cudi) makes his film debut here and succeeds for the most part. He is at times  over the top but he plays the best friend role well and again props to him for learning to how fly planes and helicopters for the movie. Special mention needs to be made for Michael Keaton’s performance as the Monarch, the host of the underground car race. The moments he was in the film were great and brought up memories of “Beetlejuice” in the way he acts. Keaton seems to be making a comeback this year and I hope we get to see more of him in upcoming films.

It was the cars though that made this movie worth watching. From the beautiful muscle cars like the legendary GTO and Camaro SS to exotic cars like the Ferrari 458 Italia, every time the action starts it grabs your attention. The stunts were real, the crashes have this cringe-worthy feel to them.

All in all, “Need for Speed” is a lot better than what you think it is. It is not as campy, and though slightly over the top, it is an enjoyable romp. Though not on the same level as the classic movies it tries to emulate, it is still worth seeing if you like any type of cars or action films.