Movie Review: Need For Speed

By Stephen Rebello

<p>The cars are the best thing about this video game adaptation.<br></p>

Director: Scott Waugh

Rating: PG-13

Studio: DreamWorks

Stars: Aaron Paul, Dominic Cooper, Kid Cudi, Imogen Poots

This adrenaline junkie, car-cuckoo action thriller is based on a 20-year-old racing video game franchise. Given the dismal history of video game-to-movie adaptations, that ought to be enough warning to send you zooming to another theater. If not, you deserve whatever you get. Need for Speed is a metamovie, really, in which a bunch of idiot characters say and do idiotic things without the slightest sense of parody or an attempt to convey any fun to the audience.

Aaron Paul (Breaking Bad) plays a racer grease monkey framed for manslaughter and fresh from prison who, strictly for the purposes of the action, drives cross-country with the wiggy, offbeat heroine (Imogen Poots) for a big race and a chance to avenge himself on villainous Dominic Cooper. That’s about it. Everybody drives too fast, utters terrible dialogue in snarly Clint Eastwood/Batman growls, struggles to find a tone and strikes poses pulled off much better in other films, including, believe it or not, even the worst of the Fast & Furious stuff. The driving sequences are so well done in comparison to the “human” interaction that you almost wish the whole movie might have been done by the second unit crew. Not surprisingly, Paul is the standout, clearly trying to give his character a nice, everyman relatability. Like Paul, Poots is too smart and gifted to be messing around with such dumb stuff, as is Michael Keaton, who is on hand to mostly hammer home narration that tries to give the story a shape, a theme, a reason for being. Instead, it reeks of postproduction desperation and just annoys.

The movie was written by George Gatins and directed by Scott Waugh, who should have been pulled over to the side of the road and issued citations for putt-putting when they needed to be zoom-zooming.


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