At first glance, Need for Speed seems like a mediocre filler in the race-car genre until 2015’s Fast & Furious 7. It felt safe to assume that the film would be just that – a filler. However, it’s not. Though Need for Speed is nothing to write home about, it’s definitely a pleasant surprise.
Based on the video game of the same name, Need for Speed follows Tobey Marshall (Aaron Paul), a garage owner who’s struggling to make ends meet. Just when things are about to get worse, his former nemesis Dino Brewster (Dominic Cooper) enters the picture. Acknowledging Tobey’s obvious talent, Dino gives him the chance to build a Mustang. In return, he promises him 25% of the earnings of the car – which costs over $2 million. Tobey agrees and gets to work on the car.
However, once the car is built and sold, old rivalries resurface. Dino challenges Tobey and Pete (Harrison Gilbertson) to a race. The stakes? The winner takes home all the earnings from the Mustang. However, Dino tags Pete’s car during the race, causing it to erupt into flames. Dino quickly escapes and Tobey is sent to jail for manslaughter. The movie chronicles his release and his attempt to avenge his friend.
Need for Speed starts off on a promising note. In the first few minutes, we meet Tobey’s crew – Maverick (Scott Mescudi), Joe Peck (Ramón Rodriguez), Finn (Rami Malek) and Pete (Harrison Gilbertson). The five play best friends who also work together at Tobey’s garage. The dynamic between the friends remains a highlight for a major part of the film. The gang also provides comic relief in an otherwise serious film. Scott Mescudi’s Maverick, in particular, delivers witty one-liners that are bound to make you chuckle.
Michael Keaton serves as an entertaining and fairly reliable narrator for the grand finale. He makes the race scenes even better than they already are. They are well-executed and anyone who likes race-car movies is bound to enjoy them. The best part about these scenes is the lack of any obvious and distracting CGI. In fact, almost no CGI was used in the making of the film. Aaron Paul and Scott Mescudi learned how to stunt drive and fly an aircraft, to make the chase scenes exciting and thrilling.
However, Need for Speed has its pitfalls. Like most films based on video games, Need for Speed has a very unoriginal and flimsy plot. It is also predictable, and the film isn’t nearly as exciting when you can predict what’s coming. In this sense, the movie feels reminiscent of every other video-game adaptation that’s been released in the last few years.
Moreover, the performances by Imogen Poots and Dominic Cooper are dismal. This is surprising as the two usually deliver stellar performances, even in mediocre films. However, their characters here feel too one-dimensional to evoke any emotion from the viewers, or even make them care.
Why should you watch this film?
Though Need for Speed is in no way the next big race-car film, it’s an entertaining movie, perfect for a weekend. Autophiles and fans of race-car movies, in particular, will enjoy this film. Watch it if you’re looking for an entertaining film, but skip it if you want an original or thought-provoking film.