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Film Review: 'Need For Speed'

Minerva Ruelas |
March 13, 2014 | 4:33 p.m. PDT

Staff Reporter

A five-guy group of amateur sports car street racers team up for a race against an overly confident multi-millionaire rival. Sound familiar? Thought so. What initially felt like a cheap replica of the "Fast and Furious" franchise, its cheesy cliche scenes are dominated by the heart-wrenching storyline and non-stop action, making the film well worth riding through.  

"Need for Speed" is worth the ride (DreamWorks Pictures).
"Need for Speed" is worth the ride (DreamWorks Pictures).

The “Need for Speed” film is, for the most part, a predictable car chase movie, but it has its positives that add fuel to the story. The 130-minute flick derives from a popular video game franchise and it sticks to the roots of it with a helicopter guide to the De Leon and high-speed police chases on the way; however, non-gamers have no fear. The vengeful plot and added love story makes the movie exciting for any action seeker.

The Ride

The irony in the first part of the film is that a gifted street racer with a dangerous “need for speed” (or need for destruction) Tobey Marshall ("Breaking Bad"’s Aaron Paul) is blamed for a crime that affected him personally, and was conveniently committed by a long-time rival. After serving time, Tobey seeks revenge by making headlines through his speedy journey across the country to get invited to an ultimate underground street race called the De Leon and beat his framer Dino (Dominic Cooper), the reigning champion.

Most of the film becomes Tobey’s race against time to make it to the De Leon with a hot blonde Brit by the name of Julia Maddon (Imogen Poots), who happens to be a conveniently model-figured sports car enthusiast. Despite their obvious attraction, the pair argues and banters as they are chased by bounty hunters and police cars across the country. Oh, the luck this man has.

Worth The Seat

The characters in this film lack depth. You don’t get a deep-rooted feel for the female sidekick who seems to be a prospective lover for the long run, but the cute, light romance is fulfilling enough. The rest of the street team crew doesn’t add much more than a few bad jokes that force you to chuckle (many given by the not-so-convincing rapper turned actor Kid Cudi). Tobey himself initially isn’t the best at pulling off the role of a “bad ass” ringleader, but he grows on you after a few impressive dare-devil moves you don’t see coming.

In spite of the film’s obvious flaws, the experience is undoubtedly action-packed from one car chase to another. Merely less than a fourth of the film takes place outside of a blazing car moving faster than 120 miles per hour. As for the stunts, they’re much more practical than the car scenes we are used to seeing in over-budgeted films like the “Fast and Furious” mega franchise.

Truthfully, from the start, it’s hard to like this movie. The first part of it drags a little too long until you realize it’s going to be a predictable sports-car-obsessed film with ridiculous stunts like all the others. Fortunately, the “Need for Speed” film went a bit (just a bit) beyond that and brought the action down to a realistic level that has grabs you by the throat. The chases are also brought about with new game-like camera angles that put you behind the wheel. It’s a ride you want to see reach the finish line, and once you’re there, it’s surprisingly satisfying.

Reach Staff Reporter Minerva Ruelas on Twitter here.



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