Cheesier than a Cracker Barrel cheddar convention, it’s fair to say that Need for Speed doesn’t exactly put its best foot forward when it comes to the whole characters and plot thing. Boasting a stock cast that couldn’t be anymore cringingly stock if they tried (Aaron Paul’s still gotta eat, yo), and a plot that basically looks like it was scrawled on the back of a burrito wrap, Need for Speed is proper switch-your-brain-off, do something else more interesting material.
However that shouldn’t suggest that some fun can’t be had with it, and unlike the majority of the truly vile game-to-film adaptations, Need for Speed actually does a few things right. A film that arguably makes real stars out of the high performance sports and American muscle cars rather than the flesh and blood actors themselves, the sum of Need for Speed’s quality can be found almost exclusively in its high-octane theatre and white-knuckle driving sequences.
Naturally, it’s understandable to want to draw comparisons with the Fast and the Furious films and to be fair, those Vin Diesel powered efforts pretty much blow Need for Speed out of the water when it comes to spectacle. Where the charm lies in Need for Speed’s petroleum-fueled antics however is that unlike the Fast and Furious films, the stunts and sequences themselves actually appear to be a lot more realistic.
You won’t, for example, get elaborate scenes of nitrous boosting cars leaping from one skyscraper to the next, but what you will get is lots of traditional, long-take, good old fashioned car stunts that seem all the more visceral because they actually *look* plausibly real. Another way that the Scott Waugh directed flick cements this realism is through frequent use of a first-person camera. Arguably the technique does a good job of making the audience feel like they’re part of the action, rather than a spectator on a pretty CG parade of stunt cars seemingly oblivious to the notion of physics.
Need for Speed is as generic a racer movie as you’re ever likely to see, but it nevertheless does a commendable job of channeling the spirit of the series that it’s based on. Quite honestly, if you wanted a movie based on the Need for Speed franchise, plot and characters should be a secondary consideration to the high-octane, tire screeching action that is synonymous with EA’s series and that is undoubtedly the case here.
As a result then, if you want to rediscover what old-school, action driving looked like before Hollywood got a hard-on for computer-generated, physics-defying spectacle, you could certainly do far worse than Need for Speed, just don’t expect anything exceptional because, well, you won’t get that. At all.
The reviewer watched Need for Speed as part of his Amazon Prime subscription and as such, didn’t really pay for the movie itself. He recommends that, unless you have an undying love for cars doing funky stunts and get a warm feeling in your nether regions at the sight of Aaron Paul, you don’t either.