Need for Speed


This was an unabashed car film. I mean, it’s based off the Need for Speed racing game franchise; can you expect any less? So obviously I went into the film without any expectations for good plot or characterisation. All I wanted to see was a bunch of expensive sports cars racing each other. And I got my share, so I’m sated.

Of course, once we really get down to the nitty-gritty though, the flaws start to peek out of the carbon fibre. Aaron Paul is a good actor, no doubt, but his looks just seem too innocent and young to give off the air of a person who stepped out of jail, is scruffy, blue-collared and hell-bent on clearing his name. His attempts to look and feel intense seem boyish and coy, and it just doesn’t really work.

Dominic Cooper as Dino was pretty good, playing his role as an arrogant, race-car driver pretty nicely. He had good practice as Howard Stark in Captain America, so I guess that helped him a little. His fear of having to race Tobey was pretty stupid though; he’s a friggin’ IndyCar driver. He’s got a Lamborghini Siesto Elemento. He’s got the equipment and the pedigree, and he’s scared of a street racer who drives a Ford Mustang? Yea okay.

Imogen Poots as Julia gave off a decent air of class and elegance in her first appearance, but after that, she looked like she was the one that just stepped out of jail. All those attempts to make her look like she’s ‘more than what she seems’ just felt contrived, and that fear of heights was just a slap to the face after trying to make her seem equal in standing with Tobey. I mean, c’mon, let her be brave and not have a moment where she can show that she’s still ‘female’ and ‘scared of stuff’.

The rest of the cast was pretty forgettable, except maybe Maverick/Liar One. They were there for the comedy, and while it made me smile, I wouldn’t say the funny bits came at the perfect times. They were also there to be convenient plot devices, which I ignored in favour of trying to be impressed by the cars.

So yea, the plot. It’s a basic plot, and the build-up wasn’t exactly stunning. Racing muscle cars in the streets? Yea, okay, good luck with the cornering. Also, who would buy 3 Koenigsegg Agera Rs? Go buy something different. And that race? Meh. Also, while Koenigsegg might like the attention the movie brings, I doubt they’ll be happy about that flip. I really don’t think those cars, with their low centre of gravity and mid-engine layout, are just going to flip like that. Or conveniently blow up, unlike Dino’s Siesto Elemento. Hollywood magic.

Other little details annoyed me too. The ‘2 Years Later’ graphic was pretty out of place, and the cheap jump scare from the dog at the petrol station was lame. Also, Julia asked for a laptop in hospital, and Maverick asked for an iPad in jail, and they got them? YEA RIGHT.

The slow-mo scenes of Tobey trying to focus on the road ahead was pretty lame too, and I’m not impressed with the digital smoke and fire for the Elemento.

And frankly, half the movie was just travelling across America in a Ford Mustang. The circumstances for it to get built was convenient, the way he got his hands on them was convenient, and of course, the deliberate crash was just as convenient too. Plus all those stupid stunts on the road, catching the police’s attention…all feels so unnecessary. I mean, the truck got there a little late (but just in time to get Julia and Tobey off the streets), which means that if they didn’t speed and just drove fast, they would have gotten to San Francisco in time.

Of course, they wouldn’t have caught the attention of Monarch, but what a contrived way to get into his private race, which is kind of lame too. I mean, sure you got some quick cars, and there’s an IndyCar driver to add some glitz to it, but look at the turnout! The street race at the start of the movie had more fans at the sidelines. Plus, who’s going to sacrifice their million-dollar cars in an all-or-nothing race? Just go to a certified race track and do your thing instead.

Oh, and about convenient plot devices. That hot refuelling? Stole the idea off F-22s refuelling in the skies, but stupid. Constant air support, including US Military gear? Contrived and convenient. Getting the Agera R, which was conveniently in San Francisco and not scrapped, and besides which was nowhere near California at the start of the movie? Convenient as hell. Oh, and Anita knowing to get Tobey the car? Convenient. She had just about zero development, and conveniently waltzes into the story (being also in San Fran, would you look at that!) to help Tobey. Just like that.

That Ford Mustang too…ugh. It was like a glorified advertisement for Ford Mustangs. LAME. Muscle cars can only do drag races, and look nice on the brake-horsepower stakes. But did Tobey seriously think a Ford Mustang, with its beefy body and zero cornering ability, was going to best a McLaren P1, a Lamborghini Siesto Elemento and a Bugatti Veyron? RIGHT. Americans don’t like racing on anything except ovals and straight lines. It’s all about the car, not about the driver and car in harmony. It’s pretty sad to see those beautiful sports cars wasted on an American-style racing movie, even if the cars are B-E-A-UTIFUL.

Finally, I think in performance stakes, the Bugatti Veyron would have blasted away on the long straight on that track. Oh, and that reminds me. Those cops sure were willing to use their cars as objects to stop the Veyron. Why not just spikes?

So yea, on a more critical note, the movie stank like the diesel used to fuel those rednecks that Dino set on Tobey to give us even more unnecessary racing action, Julia being awesome then scared, and blah blah blah. Sigh. Well, at least I enjoyed the movie while I was watching it.

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