Need for Speed Movie Review | The Student Pocket Guide
by Eliot Hastie
Need for Speed is the potential start of a brand new franchise for director Scott Waugh. The film is loosely based on the EA games of the same name. It stars Aaron Paul, fresh from his Breaking Bad success, as Tobey Marshall a streetcar racer. After his release from prison, Tobey plans revenge on the man who put him there (Dominic Cooper). What follows next is a solid hour of car racing and stunts with little to no action-taking place outside of the car.
Fans of the game will appreciate this technique as it is similar to the games which focus on street racing. Another aspect that sets it apart from most action films is the underwhelming use of guns. The action is all fast-paced, but the vehicles cause all the destruction and mayhem. By the directors own admission when the cars go down, they stay down. When a car hits a vehicle at over 150mph, it gets destroyed, and the same happens in the film. There is no miraculous recovery, no “just the right amount of flips” so the car is still standing.
The main stars of the film are the cars and how they are driven. It is the car scenes that make this movie and it is unashamed about that. Rather than going inside the car to watch the gears change or the foot hit the pedals, Waugh focuses on the cars racing. This will help him establish a whole new audience of car lovers, who just want to watch some good quality high-speed action.
It should come as no surprise to anyone that has followed Waugh’s career that all the stunts performed are real. If the drivers couldn’t carry out a stunt, it was cut. It is refreshing to see a blockbuster franchise film use no CGI. Likewise, the actors do much of the driving themselves, presumably to the despair of the insurance company. Waugh has worked in stunts for nearly 41 different movies, and this movie feels like a tribute to that.
Outside of the car the scenes fall a bit flat. All the verbal orientated scenes are merely setting up for racing focused scenes, and it seems the director knows this. The music score rises dramatically in volume during the speech parts of the film, but once the race starts the revs of engines take over. The actors do have good scene presence; the camaraderie between Marshall and his crew seems real and keeps the film light hearted. The romantic interest is no surprise to anyone, but it still doesn’t feel forced. Dominic Cooper excellently portrays a man who is just greedy, not evil. At some points he seems genuinely remorseful for his actions, but that raises the stakes all that much higher.
The film is a fun racing movie and should be watched as such. It is a great opportunity for star Aaron Paul after the Breaking Bad series and with any luck will start a franchise. Fast & Furious this is not, it is its own movie, with enough differences to set it apart. Audiences will have to make their own decision about the movie when it is released March 12th.