Need for Speed Review

This video-game inspired action drama is so cheesy, watching it gave me high cholesterol. But it’s a good kind of cheesy. Like nacho cheese. And possibly pepper-jack. But I digress, Need for Speed is a high-octane movie complete with over-powered muscle cars that make your seat in the theater tremble with the slightest engine rev.

The problem is that this movie is 122 minutes of exactly that – cheesy lines, cool cars, and, wait for it, the need for speed. In fact, the lack of a compelling plot is so apparent that after watching it, you’ll realize that this movie really just needs a few good looking racers and CGI rather than a plot and characters.

Tobey (Aaron Paul, “Breaking Bad”), the protagonist, is a drag racer in New York who owns a mechanic shop frequented by custom racers, and while at any moment you expect Paul to yell, “Where’s my money?!” in a meth-induced rage, he pulls off his part wonderfully.  He restores a Mustang and sells it to a billionaire, leading antagonist Indy racer Dino Brewster to challenge Tobey to a race.

Unfortunately, Dino’s fuel-injected endeavor to one-up Tobey leads to the death of a young member of Tobey’s crew, Pete. Though Dino is responsible for the fiery wreck that kills Pete, he pins the murder on Tobey, who is incarcerated for two years for vehicular manslaughter. After serving time for a crime he didn’t commit, Tobey sets out to win a race in the billionaire’s Mustang.

I’ll be honest, I expected a terribly plagiarized version of “Fast and the Furious” walking into the theater, but I was pleasantly surprised. For one, the Fast and the Furious relies heavily on CGI and the races look too easy. That comfort flies out the window of a Mustang burning rubber on asphalt, going 150 miles per hour with Need for Speed. The races are visceral and captivating, making each seat in the theater feel like the passenger seat of Tobey’s Mustang, clinging to the edge as the film takes us through various races and adrenaline inducing sequences.

The cars are perhaps the best part of the movie. Whereas most of the other driving films we’ve seen in the last decade are obsessed with American muscle and NASCAR, Need for Speed takes a page out of the most exotic car catalogues, ever. For ten bucks a pop (or whatever your local theater charges), your eyes will drink in the fluid, raking rooflines of cars that are only seen in dreams and showrooms, such as the Bugatti Veyron and Koenigsegg Agera R. The fast-paced nature of the film and great camera work only augments the beauty.

What the movie lacks in dialogue and plot value, however, it makes up for with some really great racing. It’s almost as if the plot was literally designed as an excuse to call this a “movie,” while the studio knew full well that the gripping race scenes would be the real money-maker.

And that’s awesome. The sounds that the engines churn out, with tire squealing effects as an added bonus, seem true to life, and the speeds that the cars attain actually seem, well, attainable.

In addition to the visual effects, this film is devoid of the tacked on 3D effects that studios staple onto their movies just for the extra dough. Instead, we get awesome 3D graphics – ones that are well worth spending the extra money to watch this movie in 3D. To any Need for Speed video game fan, this is to be expected, because the only thing keeping this review positive is the video game like appeal of the movie.

In fact, forget that the movie has a plot. Forget that Aaron Paul and some “bad guy” are racing in the archaic “race of honor” that has been done in racing movies since the time the genre was created. Watch this movie for its race scenes, its sounds, and its experience. If you had any fun playing the video games, I guarantee you will not walk out of the movie theater disappointed.

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