Need for Speed aims to do for movie franchises what the bafflingly popular Fast and Furious series has also done, but in this case it’s also based on the popular videogame franchise, and how many videogames have been made into great movies? Very few.
Mechanic Tobey Marshall (Aaron Paul) is given the option to earn a quick buck, well, $500,000, by his wealthy ex-partner Dino (Dominic Cooper), who turns up out of the blue to offer him this chance. It involves dealing with a flashy car with a chequered past and it’s sure to get our hero into trouble, but his eyes fazed over the second Dino mentioned the amount of money he’ll be getting.
A further bet and an impromptu race ends up with Tobey going to the clink for a couple of years, while Dino gets off scot-free, the latter framing the slightly-bearded one from the annoying Xbox One adverts, where he’s clearly so enthralled with Titanfall (so he claims) that he diverts away from it to watch the football.
Need For Speed leads are Aaron Paul, who constantly looks like he’s trying to hold a fart in, while Imogen Poots plays the love interest as the token Brit with a posh accent, who knows just a bit more about cars than she initially lets on, but in terms of acting talent, she’s at her most bland, here. However, I did get one belly laugh when Poots’ English accent has one of Tobey’s friends proclaiming: “I really love Piers Morgan.”
I always say that a film very rarely needs to last longer than two hours, and that the optimum time is 105 minutes. Need for Speed lasts 131 minutes and really doesn’t need to. The car chases are good, but it has dire dialogue, a lovey-dovey relationship I couldn’t give a hoot about, and as a film as a whole, it’s total nonsense. And the non-race scenes seem to last a lifetime.
When they finally do get to show the cars off, and the spoiled playboys race, never mind anyone real who gets hurt along the way, crashing their cars, or clearly dying, if not severly injured!
There’s a particularly stupid moment when Aaron and Imogen refuel whilst they’re still driving, leading to everyone risking life and limb, in exactly the same way a normal person wouldn’t. You expect it to go all a bit ‘Crash’ where people die a lot, so when people do sometimes, it’s of surprise to no-one but the characters.
Michael Keaton‘s role, as Monarch, just seems to involve waffling away to himself in a husky voice, for no real reason. It later transpires that he’s running some fancy race called the “De Leon”, although the way he pronounces it, it sounds like the “Daily On”. Either way, you know before it starts will end up in a willy-waving contest between the two leads. It’s probably his most redundant role to date since that in Robocop. Remember when he used to make great films like Pacific Heights, One Good Cop, Clean and Sober, Mr Mom and Batman Returns? (definitely not the first one) He really phoned this one in.
No doubt Need for Speed 2, 3, 4, and so on will follow, just like the Fast and the Furious franchise.
Oh, and I’ve seen Need for Speed in both 2D and 3D, and there’s nothing much to be gained by the 3D. For a start, the film wasn’t shot in 3D in the first place, it was shot in 2D with the 3D all added in post-production. So you’d think the only scenes that would benefit would be the races, but you get the scale of what’s going on from regular perspective anyway, and since the camera cuts and changes so often, there’s no lingering shots in enjoy any sort of 3D, so it quickly loses any salvagable chance it might’ve had.
The film is presented in the original 2.35:1 widescreen ratio and in 1080p high definition and is flawless with a high amount of detail on view, looking best during the car chases on my Panasonic 50″ Plasma TV.
The sound is in DTS HD 5.1 and you get a loud roar from the vehicle engines all over the place, while dialogue and ambience has no issues either. The score is perfunctory and noticeably takes a backseat to the rasp of the racing cars.
The extras are as follows and all in HD:
- Capturing Speed: Making an authentic car movie (9:45): “We wreck as much stuff as possible, and then we look at it again and see how we can wreck it again.”
That’s the mantra delivered to us by the director at the start of this piece. Somehow, Steven Spielberg was involved in this. Really? *That* Spielberg??
This is a fairly regular ‘making of’ with clips from the film interspersed by chat from the cast and crew.
- Need for Speed Rivals Trailer (1:26): The videogame, which is where the film’s life began. I haven’t played one of these games in years. They all tended to be much of a muchness.
- Ties That Bind (12:04): The Gilberts are a family of stuntmen, stunt directors and so on, and they’re all involved in this film. Expect a large dose of syrup here.
- The Circus Is In Town (10:50): Another piece about how everyone in the crew gets on like a car on fire… I mean, house. Aww… shucks.
- Monarch and Maverick Outtakes (1:45): Some of their ad libs. Nothing to write home about.
- Deleted Scenes (5:02): Four of them here, one of which is an extended scene. They’re all introduced by the director, but I wouldn’t add any of them back in.
- Audio commentary: with director Scott Waugh and actor Aaron Paul. This extra is the only one to appear on both the 2D and 3D discs.
The menu features clips from the film playing to a small piece of the incidental music. There are subtitles in English for the Hearing Impaired and Entertainment One have given us more chapters than most, but at 21 over 131 minutes, it could still use some more.
And what needs stamping out is that Entertainment One have stuck trailers for other films BEFORE the main menu, as if we’re still in the days of rental video. This is what the extras menu is for. As such, I shall not be listing them here, but they are quickly skipped.
Running time: 131 minutes
Studio: Entertainment One
Released: July 21st 2014
Picture: 1080p High Definition
Sound: DTS HD Master Audio 5.1, Dolby Digital 5.1
Widescreen: 2.35:1 (ARRIRAW (2.8K) & Canon Cinema RAW (4K))
Disc Format: 2*BD50
Director: Scott Waugh
Producers: John Gatins, Patrick O’Brien and Mark Sourian
Screenplay: George Gatins (based on a story by George Gatins and John Gatins)
Music: Nathan Furst
Tobey Marshall: Aaron Paul
Dino Brewster: Dominic Cooper
Julia Maddon: Imogen Poots
Benny: Scott Mescudi
Finn: Rami Malek
Joe Peck: Ramon Rodriguez
Pete: Harrison Gilbertson
Anita: Dakota Johnson
Bill Ingram: Stevie Ray Dallimore
Monarch: Michael Keaton
‘DJ’ Joseph: Logan Holladay
Jeny ‘B’: Carmela Zumbado
Jimmy MacIntosh: Jalil Jay Lynch
Officer Lejeune: Nick Chinlund
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.