Need for Speed
I always enjoyed the fact that 'Breaking Bad' ends the way it does, and 'Need for Speed' ended up being Aaron Paul's next project. The only thing was, said project, came and went about as fast as the cars that it features. In the same sort of vein as something like 'DOA' or 'Tekken', this is a film based on a well-known game franchise, but some people still don't fully realize the films exist. There actually seems to be quite a few of those I've come across, so I've been pretty happy about at least being able to view new titles to me. But I digress. More review, less filler!
We meet a mechanic named Tobey Marshall (Aaron Paul). Desperate to keep his family-owned business going, he begins life as an underground street racer. When he ends up in dire straits, he forms a reluctant partnership with ex-NASCAR champion, Dino Brewster (Dominic Cooper). Together they stand the possibility of completing a project started by the late, great Carroll Shelby (who we may remember from 'Ford v Ferrari'), that has the potential to earn them a handsome amount of cash. However, their sale to car broker, Julia Bonet (Imogen Poots) includes a disagreement between Marshall and Brewster, and a tragic street racing accident is used to frame Marshall, and send him to prison.
Two years later, Marshall is released on parole with vengeance against Brewster on the mind, but getting it done on the streets. Winning top prize in America's biggest underground street race, the De Leon, would get this done without hurting anyone (I mean, as far as that goes when it comes to street racing). But Brewster has also put a bounty on Marshall's car, while the police are constantly on his tail, making his task no easy one. But hey, does any of this sound familiar? I dunno about anyone else, but I feel like I more or less got what I wanted from this. Making rivals on the streets between police and other street racers? And the idea that this is based on a game with no linear story through its library?
Although the film, on the whole, isn't exactly the best, it definitely is a 'Need for Speed' movie. The only question is, are you willing to accept it as it is? I can't help but feel if they took this plot and put it into another 'Need for Speed' title, it would be just fine. Things would feel pretty much natural. Maybe not the best of the series, but it'd work out. Unfortunately, a big screen adaptation of something like this is just another street racing movie, that feels too little too late. I think at this point, competing against 'Fast & Furious' movies (especially with 6 at this point, and #7 well on the way) is pretty much an automatic no-go. Somehow, that franchise cheeses things up to the utmost degree, but we love them because they're fun movies to lose your mind to. That's incredibly hard to compete with - a franchise that knows it's dumb, but people love it because it's dumb.
I think the biggest problem with this movie is, honestly, just the length of it. It's a full 2 hours and 15 minutes, and it crowbars in celebrities like Michael Keaton to pad things out. He's a good name to have, but he's just a DJ who follows these underground races, channelling his inner Beetlejuice as he talks. The film could lose all of his scenes and would still make perfect sense. Although, at the time, Keaton was the biggest name the film had, other than Aaron Paul. It just felt unnecessary to me, but he was still pretty entertaining, as it felt like he was really into it.
This is a tough one to make out. It really is just another street racing movie, with not a hell of a lot going for it (aside from a few cool stunts). But because its entitled 'Need for Speed', I personally feel like I can forgive it for its flaws much more. I just wasn't really that disappointed considering I got pretty much what I would have been looking for in a 'Need for Speed' movie. The film's main problems lie somewhere between the writing and the unnecessary length. But this is tolerable for what it's supposed to be, and while still pretty bad, might make for one of the better video game adaptations - if only things weren't so simple and they had more to work with.
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