Film Review: Need for Speed

By Kayla Ross.
Reporter Kayla Ross at the premiere of Need for Speed.

“Need for Speed” Media Credit: Kayla Ross

The family friendly film Need for Speed is an action drama film packed with pleasure.  Need for Speed is based on a video game known for its luxury cars, reckless driving and stunts. Directed by former stunt-performer turned director Scott Waugh (Act of Valor), Disney’s film captures this eagerness through a tale of revenge, romance and car stunt work.

Breaking Bad’s Aaron Paul plays Tobey Marshall, an enthusiastic young street race car driver and business owner of a local auto shop in Mount Kisco, New York. With an impending mortgage loan, Marshall  and his fellow co-stars Scott Mescudi (Benny) Ramon Rodriguez (Joe Peck), and Harrison Gibertson (Little Pete) have to deal with Marshall’s race prospects and help him deal with his unrequited love for his high school sweetheart, Anitza, who just happens to be in town with antagonist Dino.

There is not much character development through the film , but since that’s not why people watch action movies, it doesn’t damage the overall package.

The plot is set off when Dino, played by Dominic Cooper, offers the crew benefits that they cannot turn down such as fixing up a $300,000 legendary Ford Mustang to joy racing in his illegal Swedish Koniseg supercars. Marshall finds himself accepting Dino’s advances as he, Little Pete, and Dino take the illegal cars for a joy ride. The trio race down a nearby highway in the sleek batmobile lookalikes disregarding traffic, pedestrians, and the normal speed limit.

Viewers are kept on edge of their seat as the three daredevils push limits that would put regular civilians behind bars. With the help of sharp cut angles and occasional aerial shots, viewers cannot help but feel the intensity of the action.

Their race comes to an end as Dino makes Little Pete’s car lose control, and viewers are then subjected to what could be one of the most prolific car flips in a screen film – none of it done with the help of CGI. It is in these scenes where Need for Speed shines through as an action packed tale, guaranteed to thrill the audience.

The same cannot be said about the plot, which is rather forgettable. After killing Little Pete, Dino flees the scene leaving Marshall to deal with the accident alone. Slapped with a two year jail sentence for a crime he did not commit, the protagonist loses his close friend and his freedom.

The movie then turns into a tale of revenge. Marshall returns from prison seeking to prove to prove himself as innocent and beat Dino in the world famous DeLeon tournament. He and his crew high tail it from New York City to San Francisco in one of the Mustangs he helped construct. Marshall receives aerial aid from Benny and mechanic maintenance help from Joe Peck as they try to make the trip as quickly as possible.

Viewers are taken along this ride as Marshall drives at a 100 miles per hour on state highways doing everything in his will to avoid traffic and police. The ride includes a 160 foot leap across a Detroit expressway, where the camera captures the Mustang in mid-air. To add more dramatic thrill to this rush against the clock, Dino dispatches bounty hunters to make sure Marshall does not make it to DeLeon in one piece.

Once the crew reaches the DeLeon in San Francisco, one realizes the unnecessary emphasis that is placed on the tournament is clear: the race is merely a plot devised to propel the protagonist.

Despite the intensity of the action sequences, the film tries unsuccessfully to capture the thrill of the video game with shots that set the viewer inside the car. It works at first, but then it gets repetitive. The action works best when the non-CGIed stunts take the stage and you can hear the crashing metal fold and deform with gusto.

Need for Speed is not bad. Despite lacking some of the elements that have made films such as the Fast and Furious franchise successful, the film is enjoyable weekend fun.


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