After being released from prison for a crime he didn’t commit, Tobey Marshall (Aaron Paul – Breaking Bad) enters a high stakes street race to reclaim his honour and readdress a few wrongs. Along the way he falls for Julia (Imogen Poots – A Late Quartet) whilst trying to get revenge on Dino (Dominic Cooper – The Devil’s Double), a former colleague who framed him for murder.
This big-screen version of the popular video games franchise manages to hit every speed bump along the road. There are positives to be found – the racing is quite impressive and there isn’t a CGI shot in the mix – but all of this is lost in a socially irresponsible story that asks us to champion a group of street racers who clearly have no sense of right and wrong. Why should we shed tears for a young racer who dies when he’s just caused a mass pile up of innocent bystanders?! This nonchalant approach to the story causes unnecessary tension and coupled with some truly awful character motivation, makes this an altogether disappointing affair.
Aaron Paul is flavour of the month after his deserved success with Breaking Bad. I feel sorry for him here because he’s a good actor. Need For Speed just wasn’t the right project for him to kick off his Hollywood career and even his charm can’t rescue this car crash. Imogen Poots has sparks with Paul (as they do in another lacklustre film they both star in; A Long Way Down). Both deserve a lot more from the story and are hard done by here.
Fleming’s Dominic Cooper plays the boo-hiss villain with suitable aplomb but the blatant stupidity of the script means that this is all for nothing. Michael Keaton seems to have hit that point in his career when he’ll do anything. He doesn’t seem to care about the story and jumps right into the mix with a memorable and hugely over-the-top cameo. To be fair, he is very entertaining but more so because it’s blatantly obvious that he just doesn’t care.
In a time when the Fast & Furious franchise continually ups the ante and delivers excitement, it’s even more perplexing that Need for Speed crosses the finish line as a huge disappointment. And the biggest irony is that the story-arcs featured in the various video games are far more involving than this half-baked narrative.