Need for Speed


Release: Friday, March 14, 2014


At the very least, Need for Speed has a need for tighter editing. One lap around this fast track will take you a little over two hours, a gratuitous length of time for a movie that centers around a videogame about street racing. The other obvious question is what, if any, need is there for this film to exist?

Many of us have played the game(s) over the years and hopefully those who spent time with it/them enjoyed doing so. The playing experience, though hardly revolutionary, was unique enough to be remembered fondly. While it did share traits with the superior (and more challenging) ‘Gran Turismo,’ ‘Need for Speed’ identified itself by offering up more cars as eye candy than any other game. Visual effects were pretty impressive (at the time) and the combination of dream cars with glistening sunset-dappled race courses while being pursued by the police was a pure delight.

Then in 2013 it was announced that a full-length feature film adaptation of this E.A. Sports creation was going to hit theaters in the spring of 2014. Reaction to this news came in the form of simple, one-word responses: “What?” “Huh?” “How?” “Why?”. . . .among other, more choice words. It was a move not designed to increase the game’s popularity. This was a complete gimmick designed to destroy what little was left of Hollywood’s credibility when it comes to talking about what they choose to adapt and not adapt.

Besides driving multi-million-dollar vehicles in the tropics, the greatest appeal of the gaming atmosphere was having this anonymity about you when driving. Your car was the main character; you as the driver remained unseen, unnamed and unexplained. You could have been a convict, you could have been Mother Teresa. It didn’t matter, and that was what made the generic feel of the game effective. Anyone could feel empowered.

By slapping a face on the franchise in the form of the quite likable Aaron Paul from a T.V. show you’d have to be crawling out from under a rock in order to be unaware of, its clear the studio and director Scott Waugh didn’t want to go the Mother Teresa route. Instead, it was decided that Need for Speed should be a sleek and shiny, adrenaline-fueled adventure that capitalizes on including as many top-tier automakers as possible while also providing the thrill of the chase element that was established by its source material. Thankfully, these are things that the film does not lack. However, what is lacking is a good reason why this wasn’t made to be a direct-to-DVD release.

At its heart is a story of vengeance. When a New York street racer, Tobey Marshall (Paul) loses one of his friends in a terrible accident during a romp through the streets he is framed for murder by his rival, the perfidious Dino Brewster (Dominic Cooper), and sentenced to a two-year stretch in prison. Upon his release Tobey is not only a little ticked off that his friend is dead (and that he was set-up), he has also painted a target on the back of Dino’s head because he knows the truth about the way things went down that fateful day. He’ll settle his anxieties by way of an extremely unlikely road trip across the country in a vehicle he was requested to build by none other than the snake himself, Mr. Brewster.

A silver-and-blue striped custom Shelby Mustang puts in the film’s best performance as Tobey and his roadtrip buddy, a British car enthusiast by the name of Julia (Imogen Poots), hurtle through changing scenery in Hollywood’s awful attempt to capture the experience of driving in the videogame. Wandering direction, along with problematic (possibly nonexistent) editing stages, create one long, loud, and laborious experience that could stand to be at least forty-five minutes shorter. Or upgrade the rating so at least the conversations might be more realistic.

In defense of the cast, they shouldn’t bear the brunt of the criticisms. Characters that inhabit this world aren’t well-defined — at all — but by the same token they are neither unlikable nor played with indifference by actors who seem committed to such a generic affair. In fact, Scott “Kid Cudi” Mescudi as Benny serves as welcomed comic relief when the script stalls. It wouldn’t be a stretch to imagine him improvising most of his lines. He’s easily the most watchable. . . . .apart from this film’s token girl. And despite Paul’s character being the Chevy Impala of this adventure, Tobey is worth rooting for. Sort of.

Where fingers should be pointed to the most is none other than Hollywood’s (probably) least-hired screenwriter, George Gatins. His involvement with a short film titled My Wife is Retarded and what sounds like a reliable full-length feature, You Stupid Man, is how I’d like to bow out of this review. I’ll leave you with that tidbit of information as you make up your mind over whether or not to see an unnecessary film.


1-5Recommendation: Need for Speed misfires on virtually all cylinders. Despite me refusing to believe it would be anything more than crappy, I still came away disappointed. And irritated. The product has several other problems I didn’t even touch on, but in the spirit of not completely overstuffing one review, I called out only the major ones. If you were ever a fan of the game may I suggest you leave your memories of those years in tact by avoiding seeing this at almost all costs. (However, if you have a projector malfunction like the one I experienced before this one got underway, and you find yourself with a free ticket, this movie might be a good way to use that guy.)

Rated: PG-13

Running Time: 130 mins.

Quoted: “They took everything from me. I do not fear, for you are with me. All those who defied me shall be ashamed and disgraced. Those who wage war against me shall perish. I will find strength, find guidance, and I will triumph!”

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19 thoughts on “Need for Speed

  1. Pingback: The 2014 DigiBread Awards | digitalshortbread


    Yeah I really couldn’t see this being particularly good… to be honest. Awesome review though!


    • 😀 New Category officially in the format for next year. Yeah, even as a fan of the videogames I was left pretty damn bewildered by how much this film screwed up. It could have at least been cool. It wasn’t even that. I can take really bad acting, if there’s good action. None to be had there, either. NEXT PLEASE!!!!


  3. Why do they make junk like this soooo long. 130 minutes! Even with all the terrible reviews, I may have been tempted if it was 90 minutes and I just wanted to switch my brain off. But over two hours is too much to endure I think.


    • It was really ridiculous man. Or it wouldn’t have been such a problem if this movie wasn’t so ironic to endure. If it was an intense race movie, the time would have flown by.


  4. Gosh, this movie was just too much for me. And not in a good way either where I am having an absolute blast. Nope, instead, I just wanted somebody to crash, burn, die and never given a sequel. Sounds harsh, I know, but man, this movie blew. Good review Tom.


    • We’re in agreement Dan, this movie stunk. In my eyes it only could have gone this way though. When I was first looking at trailers and all that I didn’t have a very good feeling about this, and even though I like Aaron Paul enough, he didn’t strike me as someone who could carry an entire film. Turns out, that’s the least of the movie’s issues. It was wayy too long, wayy too generic and wayy too unnecessary. Ugh. . .


    • I know man, who the hell is this guy lol. Although I do give him credit for that other feature he’s a producer on, You Stupid Man. That’s a strong title. It has me sold.


  5. I will watch this. Not going to lie. I’m a gamer after-all. Well I used to be anyways and despite hardly playing much these days until I eventually get South Park, movies based on games will likely get viewed. However, I am quite sure that I will be agreeing with you 100%. I’ll also add…Dominic Cooper does not impress me one bit. So, the villain in this does not even look appealing. Reasonable Doubt is the only other place I remember seeing Cooper and that film was awful.


    • hahah if you are prepared for low quality you might end up having a higher quality experience. A tactic I tried to use but. . . my god. This movie was pretty relentless in its quest to break my spirit. lol

      I dont think I’m that familiar with Dominic Cooper but yeah he ain’t too spectacular in this one. I hope to see your review soon and see how we compare 🙂


  6. I was not a fan of the game (or really any video games). 🙂

    But I should still leave this movie alone. I probably won’t, but I really should. I know it. I know it.

    Good review, as always, Tom, of what sounds like a genuinely crappy film.


    • Thanks man. Very kind of you to say.

      I’ll put it to you this way: I am a fan of racing video games. They are the only ones (well, mostly) that I’d play, if I had a console. I also am a decent fan of racing movies. I don’t find the F&F franchise that awful. But this one truly was. I could have given it a lower score, but I like Aaron Paul too much. And some race sequences offered up some fun. I’d say approach with extreme prejudice.


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