Next best thing to do after selling the dopest meth? Drive cars. Betch.
After one of his best buddies tragically dies in a street-racing incident, driver/auto-mechanic Tobey Marshall (Aaron Paul) is thrown into jail, even if he isn’t the one who caused the accident. That title blame should go towards Dino Brewster (Dominic Cooper), an entrepreneur who decides that he’s had enough of Tobey’s ways of showing-off, and wants him gone. Well, in his case: Mission accomplished. Tobey takes the jail-card for a little over two years and you’d think he’d learn his lesson. But nope, as soon as he walks right out of jail, he meets up with his good buddy (Scott Mescudi, aka, “the Man on the Moon”) and they’ve already deviled-up a plan that consists of them getting into this big, annual race to settle the score once and for all. And by actually getting into that race and therefore, being able to face-off against Dino once and for all, Tobey would have to strut his stuff all the way from New York to California, in hopes that the tournament-owner (Michael Keaton) will see him, be impressed and allow him to qualify for the race. However, when you’re driving a fast-as-hell Mustang, and traveling cross-country, it’s a bit hard to stay out of harm’s way, or the law’s way, to be even more exact.
Don’t worry, I get that this is based-off the video-game because I myself, back in my younger days, actually played it and loved the hell out of it. So that means I understand that this movie isn’t devoid from the same material as those the Fast & the Furious movies, but here’s what I can’t seem to wrap my head around: Why would you even bother trying to make a whole other street-racing movie, when that franchise has been kicking ass for quite some time. Sure, right now it has run into a bit of a hurdle, but from what it seems like, they’ve bounced right back and already have a movie zooming into theaters sometime soon.
So I ask once again: Why does this movie, another street-racing genre-pick need to exist?
Well, the simple answer is: To make money. That’s it and nothing about it.
That’s all Hollywood is really concerned with, so instead of just making up another story about a bunch of people who like to do underground, street-racing, why not just adapt the story itself from a video-game? Or better yet, how about we just take a random, conventional story, plop the title of the video-game on it and then be able to say, “Oh no, it’s different”? Because that’s exactly what it seems like they did here.
Not only did they take a video-game that people know and definitely love, but they’ve also brought-back the “street-racing movie” genre, back to its root. See, in this day and age where most of our street-racing movies are getting themselves further and further away from the driver-seats, and more into whatever type of action most blockbusters follow, this movie wants us to remember what it’s like to feel the rush of the velocity in the air; the constant life-or-death aspect that comes into the equation when driving insane, ludicrous speeds; and also, how cool you can look and be, when you’re driving a sexy-as-hell ride, yo. And I have no problems with those types of movies whatsoever, in fact, I welcome it, but there’s something here that just really knocked me down, again and again; and I think that all comes down to the fact that this is just about over two-hours.
Yep, it’s that long, and trust me, it does not need to be one bit. Sure, most of the premise revolves around these characters getting from one end of the U.S., to the other, all by vehicle, but they could have easily tightened that part up, or gotten rid of it all the same. Much rather, they could have just had this story focus in on how this Tobey guy wanted to extract revenge in any way possible, and by doing so, he decides to challenge him to the almighty, climactic final race of a life time. That would have been really simple, swift and good for the movie itself, had they decided to go in that direction.
BUT NO!! Instead, we had to get a cross-country field-trip that is about as exciting as being on a chariot with your mom (except we do get to see these people pass an RV), that features these people driving a whole heck of a lot, and pulling-off some mean, nasty and dangerous stunts, just all for the sake that this Tobey guy can get a chance to get his revenge, clear his name and show this baddie whose boss. It’s weird, because although I’m usually good at suspending my disbelief for any movie, just as long as it’s fun, but I just couldn’t here. Every time Tobey would be driving on the wrong side of the road, having near, head-on collisions with various other cars or almost killing a load of pedestrians, I couldn’t help but feel bad for all of them, not Tobey.
In fact, I felt like he, as well as all of his buddies that lent him a helping-hand in all of these shenanigans, were actually somewhat of dicks. Not only did they want to get a chance to prove themselves as a bunch of mofo’s who know a thing or two about racing cars, but they were so dedicated to do so, that they just didn’t care about what the hell else, or who else it was that was around them. They just kept on driving, and driving, and driving, and driving, and after awhile, it downright nearly killed me. By the hour-and-a-half mark, I had about had it up to here with all of the constant revving of the engine, the spinning of the wheels and the violent car-crashes being after-thoughts. Usually I don’t care for this type of petty-stuff in better movies, but here, I totally did and it got to me.
However, what sucked the most, is that I knew I had about 30 or so more minutes left to go.
As much as I felt bad for myself, I couldn’t help but want to extend my tender love and care towards the cast, who clearly showed up, trying their hardest. Sadly though, barely anybody comes out of this movie unscathed; not even Aaron Paul. I must say that for Aaron Paul, head-lining in a major-motion blockbuster, post-Breaking Bad, is definitely an inspired, if ambitious choice on his part, but it comes off more like a paycheck gig than anything else. The script only allows him to grit his teeth, stare out from the driver’s seat as he grips the steering-wheel and, occasionally yell whenever necessary. There are some bits and pieces of his natural-charm sprinkled throughout, but overall, it’s just a weak performance from somebody who deserves so much damn better. Oh well, can’t feel too bad though, because he most definitely got a nice, new beach house out of this.
Another strange aspect behind this movie is the fact that both Scott Mescudi and Dominic Cooper are given top-billing in this movie, despite most of the world not knowing exactly who the hell they are (especially Cooper). Sure, people know Scott Mescudi if you’ve ever listened (*cough cough* gotten high) to Kid Cudi’s music, but you’d never know that it was him in this movie, just by reading the poster or the advertisements; same goes for Cooper, who was probably just given a chance to be a big name because he plays the main-baddie here. Regardless of all of this talk, neither are very good, which may be a case of the script, or it may just be because they both read it wrong. Either way, something wasn’t mixing well here and there needs to be someone to blame. My heart tells me the script, but my head tells me the actors themselves. I don’t know. Let me just move the hell on.
The only two in this movie who inject some form of life or energy to be found in this piece whatsoever are Imogen Poots and Michael Keaton. Poots is becoming another one of my famous “darlings” because, as of late, I’ve seen her show-up in stuff and just bring so much life into whatever it is that she’s doing. She’s wonderful here as the British, quirky, free-spirited and very smart gal that Tobey gets stuck riding with for this long trip of theirs, even if it does seem like the script treats her as both “annoying” and “unnecessarily emotional”. I mean, she sticks up for herself, knows a thing or two about cars and even gets behind-the-wheel on more than a few occasions, what the hell is so wrong about that? Damn, men and all their misogyny! As for Keaton, I think we all know by now how hilarious, fun and awesome this guy can be, and that’s no different here. I’ll just leave it like that. On a positive note, despite the fact that the movie was a stinker.
Consensus: Car-junkies will probably love every bit of the two-hour-long Need for Speed movie, however, for everybody else, it will become a real bore, real soon and barely ever change from being anything but.
3 / 10 = Crapola!!