Director Steve Waugh’s Need for Speed, stars fast action cars – three Koenigsegg Agera’s, a Lamborghini Sesto Elemento, McLaren P1, Saleen S7 (amongst others) – and, subsequently, a yarn about a wrongfully accused whiz motor-mechanic’s vengeance.

Tobey Marshall (Aaron Paul of Breaking Bad) is a former racing driver turned performance mechanic, who is framed by past competitor Dino Brewster (Dominic Cooper), after he gets him to finish work on a pricey Ford Shelby Mustang – which is also one of the principal characters in the movie.

A scene from movie, "Need for Speed". – Courtesy Photo
A scene from movie, "Need for Speed". – Courtesy Photo

Need for Speed is as simple as the title suggests. The cars whir, drift and go kablooey on the highway while our hero – driven by the rush of racing and his itch to get even – grinds his teeth and flexes his driving muscles.


Another adrenaline rush action movie?


Yes, but don’t hate the movie for what it is.

As much as the settings resemblances any one of Need for Speed’s engine revved brethren – including Fast and Furious, whose later parts have more brawn than cars – the screenplay by George Gatins deliberately places the automobiles in the narrative backseat.

A scene from movie, "Need for Speed". – Courtesy Photo
A scene from movie, "Need for Speed". – Courtesy Photo

Instead of showing off paintjobs, skimpily dressed car-girls or custom performance tune-up – which by the way, is a part of the plot – our point of reference are Tobey, Julia (Imogen Poots) and Maverick (Scott Mescudi), as they first, speed from New York to San Francisco in forty-eight hours. Evading police capture and imminent death by racers-turned-bounty hunters, they later sprint against top-of-the-line racecars in an underground competition sponsored by an eccentric video-jockey called Monarch (Michael Keaton, cast with the idea of being over-the-top).

A scene from movie, "Need for Speed". – Courtesy Photo
A scene from movie, "Need for Speed". – Courtesy Photo

Need for Speed, notwithstanding its videogame lineage, is still a nascent movie franchise; thematically though, there would be little change in formula in any action movie with shiny vehicles (be it cars or bikes). A hero would come with emotional baggage, a kind heart and stupefying driving skills. He would (of course) get the girl, settle a score – usually the central point of the storyline – and hoodwink (or in this case, outrun) authorities in the process. The formula is hiccup-free and universal to the premise.

A scene from movie, "Need for Speed". – Courtesy Photo
A scene from movie, "Need for Speed". – Courtesy Photo

Steve Waugh stylistically, and intelligently, tones down digital flamboyance by settling for real cars and real crashes. Although the all-digital cinematography by Shane Hurlbut (using Canon C500’s), betrays the down-and-dirty organic look of a film negative (there is a lack of grain in the picture and the 3D is just about average), the realism of capturing live-action visuals manages to give Need for Speed the distinction that left Fast and the Furious more than a decade back.


The final word


For a movie with so much formulaic deadweight and a lack of dynamism, Need for Speed is a tastefully executed, unpretentious fodder. Aaron Paul and Imogen Poots are believable, but the cars are fantastic; and of course, they – or the Need for Speed tag – are the reason you’d go for the movie anyway.

Released by Walt Disney Studios, ‘Need for Speed’ is rated PG-13 for scenes of automobile delinquency and stunts you shouldn’t attempt with in your vehicle.

Directed by Scott Waugh, Produced by John Gatins, Patrick O'Brien, Mark Sourian; Screenplay by George Gatins, on a story by George Gatins and John Gatin (Based on the videogame Need for Speed by Electronic Arts); Cinematography by Shane Hurlbut; Editing by Paul Rubell, Scott Waugh; Music by Nathan Furst.

Starring: Aaron Paul, Dominic Cooper, Imogen Poots, Ramón Rodríguez, Rami Malek, Dakota Johnson, Harrison Gilbertson and Michael Keaton.


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