Need For Speed: Fast Cars. Full Tanks. Can’t Go Slow
Need For Speed doesn’t think, it moves. The stunts are unbelievable, the plot thin and characters likable. The script may be pure gobbledygook but the racing is full of visceral beauty and pure practical bliss. There are moments when the practical stunts and fuel injected speed make your heart pound with delight. The races that lead to death, imprisonment and fireballs are things of beauty directed expertly by director Scott Waugh.
Waugh is a former stuntman (amazing IMDB resume) who cut his teeth directing the practical stunt filled Act of Valor. Characters are not his strong point but he is saved by the solid cast of likable actors. I am a big fan of Aaron Paul (Breaking Bad, Smashed), Imogen Poots (Fright Night, 28 Weeks Later), Rami Malek (Pacific, Short Term 12), and Kid Cudi. They all get their moments to shine despite having to recite stock dialogue. The chemistry is strong as well. You can tell that Poots and Paul enjoyed their time on Long Way Down because they’ve reunited and added a nice romance to the racing.
Need For Speed is not meant to be deconstructed. The story is simple. A man is looking for revenge against the rich slime ball who killed his friend. He needs to travel from New York to San Francisco in 45 hours and is joined by his loyal crew and pretty passenger. The goal is to make it to a famous race where the winner becomes a millionaire racing legend. The race is uber secret and sponsored by a billionaire internet personality played by the perennially sitting down Michael Keaton. There is a need for speed and the highlights all involve the little characters moments that build upon the budding romance or loyal friendship of the talented crew.
The plot holes would engulf the beautiful vehicles that race recklessly on the wrong side of the road. You could scoff at the dialogue and hair gell every minute. Why do that though? The thing you need to do is sit back, relax and enjoy the mayhem. Appreciate the random moments of naked quitting and Kid Cudi spying on joggers via stolen news helicopter. If all else fails simply enjoy the sounds of the beautiful Ford Mustang.
Need For Speed was meant to bring us car mayhem and it succeeded. It is a successful adaptation of a popular video game that has sold over 150 million units. It isn’t as gleefully gravity breaking as The Fast series but still manages to keep you planted in your seat while things go boom. The revenge plot works because Dominic Cooper (Dead Man Down, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter) is such a slimy bad guy you want him to be defeated. His character is such a turd that you relish the moment when he gets defeated.
I enjoyed Need for Speed. I brushed over the faults and let the car mayhem win the day. Richard Corliss of Time summed up the movie perfectly with this closing quote:
This is cinema reduced or distilled to its purest definition, of movies that move. If you want dewy humanity in your entertainment, watch Lifetime.
Enjoy the ride!