I’m not a gamer, in fact I haven’t played a video game in 2 years. But I have to admit I was a fan of the Need For Speed games back in my college years. So I was bit intrigued when Hollywood announced back in early 2000s that they were going to make a movie version. If I remember correctly, New Line Cinema was going to produce the movie and attached John Woo as the director and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson was going to play the lead role. They even made a teaser poser with the release date of summer 2005. Of course that version never got made and the project was stuck in development hell for years. Well now after almost a decade from its original release date, the movie is ready to be seen by millions.
The movie opens in a not-so-speedy pace, we were introduced to a few characters including the hero Tobey Marshall (Breaking Bad‘s Aaron Paul). He and his pals runs a car shop and also participate in an illegal street racing to earn some extra cash. One night after work, they were at another street race, they ran into Marshall’s ex girlfriend Anita (Dakota Johnson) and her boyfriend Dino Brewster (Dominic Cooper). Apparently Marshall and Brewster had a history and they don’t like each other much. Then we were treated to one of the most boring car racing scenes I’ve ever seen in a movie. Marshall of course won the race and the next day Brewster came to his shop and offer him a project he couldn’t refuse. Apparently Marshall owes the bank a lot of money for the car shop and he needs the money badly. Brewster offered Marshall and his team a job of building the fastest car ever made and if the car is sold, he’ll give 25% of the sale to Marshall. With the magic of movie making, they finished the job in just 2 seconds. The new Ford Mustang they built is supposedly can go as fast as 230mph and this drew an interest from a potential buyer Julia Maddon (Imogen Poots). Maddon turns out to be a rep for some very rich person who’s willing to buy the car for $3 mil but she needs to see that the car can go as fast as Marshall promised.
Well the next day they took the car out for a drive and proved that it can go pretty darn fast. Maddon and her buyer were quite impressed and said they’ll pay $2.7mil for the car. After they closed the deal, Marshall, his good friend Little Pete (Harrison Gilbertson) and Brewster decided to make a friendly wager and went for another street racing. If Brewster wins the race, Marshall will have to give up his 25% percent but if he loses than Marshall will keep the $2.7mil. Fortunately this race scene was much better than the first one and of course tragedy strike and Little Pete was killed during the race. For some strange reason Marshall was blamed for his death and spent two years behind bars. Fast forward two years later, Marshall is out of prison on parole and wants revenge. He wants to enter into a super secret street racing which is being organize by the Monarch (Michael Keaton). The grand prize for this race can be as big as $9 mil. He contacted Maddon and ask her to convince her boss to sponsor him in the race. He also contacted his old crew who were more than willing to help him get to the race. Maddon’s boss agreed to sponsor Marshall but insist that Maddon must tag along with him. The rest of the movie was basically about Marshall and his team trying to reach the big race and win the prize.
I wanted to like this movie and for about 20 minutes, I thought it could be a fun mindless action thriller. But then as the movie progresses, it became more and more annoying. I didn’t care about the plot or any of the characters. The script by George Gatins was full of cliche one dimensional characters and I thought for sure it’s written by a 15 year old. Since I’m a fan of Breaking Bad, every time Aaron Paul is on the screen, I just think of him as Jesse and you know what, he’s basically playing the same character here. Lots of whining, yelling and crying, just like Jesse. Not any better is Dominic Cooper‘s one-note villainy performance, I guess he achieved what the role required, just being a big douche bag. The rest of the characters in the movie were a bunch of fillers and Marshall’s pals are supposed to be comic relief, but all of them were annoying to watch.
Usually when there’s a bad script, the director can somehow turn it into something watchable. Unfortunately director Scott Waugh (Act of Valor) is not talented enough for the task. I don’t blame him, his background is in stunt coordination and he should’ve stick to doing that. He has no clue how to put together coherent scenes to create dramatic effect. The scene where Little Pete was killed and Jesse er I mean Marshall started bawling, I wanted to burst out laughing because it has this dramatic music cue that just didn’t fit the scene at all. Since his background is in stunt, he did a pretty good job of staging the climatic chase but by then I didn’t care about the movie and just wish it’s over already. For a pretty decent budget, the movie looked like it’s a made for a TV movie. The cinematography was flat and uninspiring, the movie was shot digitally and it looked like it was shot by someone who bought a camcorder at a electronic store.
It’s still early but this movie will definitely make my worst-of-the-year list. The movie has no redeeming quality whatsoever – it’s full of one clichéd scene after another and I didn’t care for any of the characters. I’m the type that loves dumb action movies but this one was just way too dumb for me to enjoy it. Also, at over 2 hours long, it’s way too long for audiences to sit through this mess. At least 40 minutes of the content could’ve been cut out.
If you’re planning to see it in theater, I recommend you wait till it airs on TV so you won’t have to waste your hard-earned money on this trash.
What do you think of Need For Speed? Did you like it more or less than I did?