Sunday, March 16, 2014

Need For Speed - Review

As history has shown, most video game adaptations don't turn out very good, and with a property like Need For Speed, which most people think of as simply a racing game, I had a lot of worry.  But with Aaron Paul as the lead, I decided to give it a shot, and I'm glad I did.

After being sent to prison for something he didn't do, mechanic and street racer, Tobey Marshall, sets out on a path or revenge and retribution against the very man who put him there.  With the help of his friends, he enters one of the most infamous and elusive street races around in a battle to prove his innocence.

In his second shot in the director's chair, retired stuntman Scott Waugh (Act of Valor) breathes big screen life into a game franchise that no one thought would ever become a feature film.  But this would have been difficult to do without the help of his writers, George and John Gatins.  This is George's first crack at writing, but not for his brother, John.  John Gatins worked on such films as Coach Carter, Flight, and Real Steel.

Need For Speed follows a similar path as another popular car film (which is now a successful franchise), The Fast & The Furious, though there are some key differences.  For example, F&F was focused more on modified imports like the Mitsubishi Eclipse and Honda Civic being transformed into high performance machines, while Need for Speed, on the other hand, goes for broke with some of the most exotic cars on the planet, from Bugatti to McLaren to Koenigsegg. These are cars that are worth more than some of the Need for Speed actor’s paychecks, and more importantly, they are fast all by themselves.  And another impressive fact about this film is that they used mostly practical stunt work throughout, and not CG.

Taking on his first leading role since the end of the hit series, Breaking Bad, Aaron Paul gives a convincing, solid performance as a desperate man seeking to right a wrong.  This role was definitely in his wheelhouse, not skewing too far from his Breaking Bad character, Jesse Pinkman, but different enough to be able to separate them.  He's joined by the relatively unknown Imogen Poots, who's been in such films as V for Vendetta, 28 Days Later, and the more recent That Awkward Moment.  We also see performances from Scott "Kid Cudi" Mescudi, Dominic Cooper, and the very talented Michael Keaton.

I was surprisingly entertained by this film for the 2+ hours it was on.  With a simple, yet interesting storyline and an impressive performance by Aaron Paul, his film is definitely worth a watch.  I doubt it'll go down in history as one of the greats, but it's a fun film nonetheless, and sets itself up nicely for a sequel, if they so choose to.

Josh's Rating:  7.5/10

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