Friday, March 14, 2014

Need for Speed - Movie Review

Based on the popular video game franchise, Need for Speed races onto the big screen with Aaron Paul, Dominic Cooper, Michael Keaton, and Imogen Poots all behind the wheel. Scott Waugh directs from a story written by George and John Gatins.

Tobey Marshall (Paul) and his crew of gear heads have been scraping by trying to keep their garage open for business and, just as it seems they might have to close up shop, an old associate and famous race car driver Dino Brewster (Cooper) makes them an offer that could save everything. After custom building an elite level Mustang for a very wealthy buyer, the team looks to be back on track until an "accident" during a street race lands Marshall in jail and his friends left high and dry.

After spending two years locked up for a crime he didn't commit, Marshall has a plan to get back at those responsible for having him put behind bars. Thus begins a cross country, coast to coast chase to reach the secret location of an underground, invitation only race that just happens to include the man he is looking to hunt down. While all this is going on, Tobey meets and reluctantly teams up with a young woman named Julia (Poots) who turns out to have much more to offer than he originally thought.

When I sat down to watch this movie, I honestly thought it was going to be terrible. I was expecting to sit through painful dialog, horrible acting, low budget effects, and a story that wouldn't make any sense at all. Fortunately, Need for Speed did not reach the depths of movie drudgery that I was expecting, but it is also far from being a masterpiece of any type as well. One of the main things you need to know about this movie is just how action packed it is which is made even more impressive by the fact that every single stunt from beginning to end was done using real people in real cars on real roads which is unheard of in today's CGI heavy school of film making.

Director Scott Waugh has been doing movie stunt work for literally decades so he definitely knows a thing or two about how to put together a great car chase. He also went to great lengths to honor the movies that paved the way for the current generation of automotive based action movies like the Fast and Furious franchise. If you are a fan of classic movies like Bullitt which stars Steve McQueen or Smokey and the Bandit and those iconic performances from Burt Reynolds and Sally Field, you will find a lot to enjoy in this movie as well. I'm not saying Need for Speed is on the same level as those pictures, but it definitely and intentionally has more than a few similarities to them and in a way that honors more than mimics or plagiarizes.

If what you are looking for is just a fun, action packed movie that is not meant to be taken seriously in any way, then you will get a kick out of Need for Speed. The one thing I want to avoid here is talking in any detail about the quality of acting because I think we will all be better off if we just don't worry about that type of thing this time around. Yes, I am ultimately giving this movie a good review, but keep in mind that you will want to set your expectations at a certain level to avoid being disappointed otherwise you might not enjoy it as much as you could or should.


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