UK Release Date: 12th March 2014
Runtime: 130 minutes
Director: Scott Waugh
Writer: George Gatins
Starring: Aaron Paul, Imogen Poots, Dominic Cooper, Michael Keaton, Scott Mescudi
Synopsis: A racer gets out of prison after being wrongfully jailed for manslaughter and seeks to clear his name by driving cars very fast.
The Fast & Furious franchise is one of Hollywood’s safest moneymakers. In the world of video games, Need For Speed has a similar status, so it was only a matter of time before it made its way to the silver screen. And thankfully, it has done so with an enjoyably implausible action romp, starring Breaking Bad’s Aaron Paul.
Tobey (Paul) is a mechanic and racer. When he manages to sell a car to Julia (Imogen Poots) on behalf of rival racer Dino (Dominic Cooper), he ends up arguing with Dino, leading to a reckless race in which one of Tobey’s friends is killed. Wrongfully imprisoned for manslaughter, Tobey then vows to break parole and enter a high-profile road race, with Julia in tow.
The main question people wanted Need For Speed to answer was whether Aaron Paul could carry a Hollywood blockbuster. He certainly makes a decent fist of his brooding hero role here, but there’s always a niggling feeling that his performance deserves more than the material he is given.
| “They took everything from me.”
It would’ve been wrong to expect logic and plausibility from Need For Speed. But equally, the film is slightly hamstrung by the fact that its entire plot is full of contrivance and bizarre twists of fate. The script is full of cliché dialogue and jokes that fall as flat as a drunk on a Friday night.
Despite all this, the film is very entertaining. It benefits from some genuinely inventive car chases and a solid performance from the ever-reliable Imogen Poots who provides far more than the “skirt in the passenger seat” supporting role to which she could so easily have been confined.
Dominic Cooper is also excellent, giving Need For Speed’s main antagonist the feel of a jeer-worthy panto villain with a mean streak that seems to come from absolutely nowhere. The rest of the supporting cast are given thankless comic relief roles limited either to stealing various helicopters or stripping naked in an office.
| “I will find strength, find guidance, and I will triumph.”
By embracing its meat-headed stupidity and amping up the petrolhead set pieces, Need For Speed manages to be a fun, but flawed, blockbuster.
Pop or Poop?
Aaron Paul has successfully made the leap from the small screen to the cinema with Need For Speed, which is a hugely fun action blockbuster featuring crumpled metal and squealing tyres in insane quantities.
The supporting cast are largely anonymous and the plot makes no sense, but when the set pieces change up a gear, it’s really difficult to care.
Do you agree with my review? Let me know in the comments section.