Certificate 12A, 130 minutes
Director: Scott Waugh
Stars: Aaron Paul, Dominic Cooper, Scott Mescudi
In Need for Speed Tobey Marshall (Aaron Paul, A Long Way Down, Triple 9) lives in Mt Kisco, New York state, where he is running Marshall Motors, a performance car specialist. The garage is struggling financially after his father died, although why is never stated, so he is participating in illegal street races using American muscle cars.
Dino Brewster (Dominic Cooper, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, Dead Man Down, Dracula Untold), also from the area, and Tobey have some sort of historical disagreement - again, why is never made clear - but he wants Tobey to build a car for him; a Ford Mustang that was being worked on by the late Carroll Shelby when he died, in exchange for a lot of money.
When he gets out he wants to participate in the invitation only illegal street race with a constantly changing location known as De Leon run by Monarch (Michael Keaton, Birdman, RoboCop) in an attempt to prove his innocence and get justice. Not a great plan if you think about it; prove you were innocent by doing another illegal race. The De Leon race isn't the main focus for the film, although it is the climax, as a goodly amount of time is spent working up to him getting out of prison and he then needs to drive across the United States to get to the race, accompanied by Julia Maddon (Imogen Poots, Fright Night). The getting there involves yet more driving illegally as the police are continually helpless to catch him.
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These films, like the games, were on the whole also not very good to very bad. There were exceptions in both cases and both trends are still continuing, still with mixed results.
Need for Speed is based on the Electronic Arts video game franchise of the same name. As films go this one started off with a distinct disadvantage where it comes to plot, as in the game there are some cars, they are driving fast and you need to win. That's pretty much it for the plot, although there are usually some elements of a story are worked in, but it boils down to driving fast cars fast. For a film you need a bit more of a plot, even with similar film types such as the Fast & Furious franchise.
Need for Speed is available in both 2D and 3D with the 3D version being the one watched. 3D works in some instances, usually those that involve a lot of CGI, but this was not one of them and the 3D wasn't even noticeable most of the time. The film was post-converted to 3D which in this case was pretty much money down the drain, upping costs which is something the film desperately didn't need to do.
This is no Street Fighter (the film that killed Jean-Claude Van Damme's big screen career), but it's no masterpiece. The plot doesn't make a lot of sense, the timings of the trek across America don't look to work - how if the car is driving that fast is everybody able to keep up with it even using slower vehicles? The final conclusion to the film is an overly happy circumstance as in real life it is unlikely that events would have worked out so well, as most people who've seen any police dramas involving evidence could probably figure out.
Cooper's character of Dino is a suitably villainous counterfoil to Paul's nice guy (if criminal) Tobey. Dino has no redeeming characteristics, being perfectly willing to cause accidents that can kill people and then leave them to die. This portrayal, however unbelievable, is one of the better parts of the film. In the end Need for Speed isn't about a plot any more than the video games are; it is about the fast, expensive cars which are being driven fast, often with slowed down scenes so you can appreciate the beauty of millions of dollars of car being destroyed in slow motion, and if that's what you really are looking for, then the film works.