“Need for Speed” couldn’t be more correctly titled. This movie is literally about a group of guys who feel the need for speed in disgustingly expensive cars. Tobey Marshall, played by Aaron Paul, is the leader of the greasers. He’s like the mob boss of the underground racing world. Toby, angered by a tragic event that lands him in jail, decides to take his revenge on the road, and fight for bragging rights at a top-secret race that is by invitation only. Let the games begin!
The movie opens with a montage of Toby and his friends mourning his father’s death. One of the gang, Finn, played by Rami Malek, is a boy who understands cars; can feel how many clicks it needs to purr smoothly. Ugh. He wasn’t even a ladies man. No more sex and cars metaphors please. I can’t deal with how these movies always have gorgeous, half-naked women around sleek cars.
My least favorite character was Dino Brewester, played by Dominic Cooper, who seems to have had a problem with Toby back in high school. I hope it was sports related, or the aggressive greeting at the beginning of the movie could be misconstrued.
When Dino first appeared on the screen I thought, “look at Mr. Willoughby play a rich jerk. Oh wait. He’s done this character before, just in breaches. This time he’s got a clichéd leather jacket and his pretentious Mercedes.” For those of you who don’t know, Mr. Willoughby is a character in Jane Austen’s “Sense and Sensibility,” and was a really sketchy guy. Maybe Mr. Cooper should broaden his horizons and try for a more complex, likable characters. But now to the important part. The racing. I hesitate to say that visually it wasn’t bad. Actually, it was really good. Instead of being an outside and looking in, the director put you in the cockpit. In 3-D it’s really cool. I felt like I was driving the car on the highways or in city backstreets.
While the racing was cool, some of the scenes seemed ridiculously out of place. These characters act like they are about to launch a cure for AIDS, instead of drag racing, an illegal and potentially dangerous activity. It left me caring more what happens to the cars than the actors. If you put aside the fact that this movie is an obvious “Fast and Furious” rip-off, it’s not half bad. Your pulse won’t race as hard, mainly because they guys aren’t as sexy but they can still get the job done, if you catch my drift. (Pun intended). It’s like light beer. All the fun with half the calories.Not as good as watching Paul Walker (R.I.P) and Vin Diesel race but it is kind of cool. Do I even mention the acting? Because let’s be honest, no one is going to this movie to watch the big name actors give the performance of a lifetime. The cheeky blonde, Julia played by Imogen Poots, does give the character roster a little color. Her perky British accent, seem a little out of place in an American racecar movie, but it breaks the monotonous tone.
I have never seen a male lead with so much emotion. Tobey cried at every turn. His facial expressions were beyond hilarious. It was like watching an adult Disney movie. I will say, though, that Tobey got infinitely sexier as the movie progressed. Reason: he is a phenomenal driver. This is what a good driver does for a woman. A good driver can make a girl weak in the knees and forget how to breath. Or maybe that is just me with severe anxiety; the dangerous situations they put themselves in, hooking up the car to a helicopter and driving off a cliff, made me lose my breath. No joke. The necessary make out session was surprisingly passionate but not passionate enough to keep Julia awake. She fell asleep just as the kiss ended. To be fair, they were hit by a truck five minutes before but still. She should be able to stay awake through the entire kiss, especially considering her concussion and broken arm.
Soon, their eyes meet across the room. The breathing became heavy. They moved closer, and closer together. Get your mind out of the gutters people. It is just Tobey and Dino’s hatred for each other; nothing more. They have beef that haven’t been grilled up and consumed yet. The grudge gets solved behind the wheel, instead of face-to-face because we’re civilized. Unlike most other male-driven movies where the muscles do all the talking. Let’s take a moment of silence before the final race. Stop the music. Give Tobey a minute to look at his meaningful tattoo that kept the fire burning for the two years he spent in jail for a wrongful murder. And here we go. I wonder who will win, the bad guy who killed his wife’s brother, or the good guy with a longtime vendetta? I don’t need to say it.
It’s good to see Michael Keaton working again. His throwback “Beetlejuice” anecdotes give the movie some flare but it’s nothing we haven’t seen before. All the over-energetic moments, which could be called over-acting if you’re not a fan, were peppered throughout the film. Except this time, instead of makeup, he is wearing seriously retro sunglasses – inside no less. He also narrates which is helpful if you haven’t been paying attention for the last two hours.
“Need for Speed” was a hopelessly unrealistic movie but I’m along for the ride. Although I predicted the entire movie from the bringing, I enjoyed it. The love story was completely clichéd and some of the dialogue seemed way to masculine in nature, which is awesome if you can decipher grunting. There were some funny parts and come dramatic, heart-wrenching scenes. Basically, it was a B movie with C actors that gave us a rip-roaring good ride.
Ultimately, we really shouldn’t be surprised. Any adaptation of a video game is going to be awful. And it truly was awful. However, the rush of the racing gave me chills. It wasn’t a very good movie, but at least the racing is worth the ticket price.