Director: Scott Waugh
Principle Cast: Aaron Paul, Dominic Cooper, Imogen Poots and Michael Keaton
Rated: ‘PG-13′ for disturbing crash scenes, crude language, nudity and sequences of reckless street racing
Aaron Paul’s first starring vehicle (pun intended) since the conclusion of Breaking Bad is Need for Speed, a high-octane action/adventure that co-stars a cast of relative unknowns. It’s exception is Michael Keaton, who is the zaniest he’s been since Beetlejuice. In the vein of The Fast and The Furious, NFS sets itself a part from their earlier films by focusing more on story and character development over it’s lush cars and racing lifestyle.
Tobey Marshall (Paul) and his crew are only a couple of payments away from losing their garage, where they work on tuning performance cars. When Tobey’s formal rival Dino Brewster (Cooper) comes back to town and offers the group work, Tobey reluctantly accepts. After a heated argument, the two decide to street race, with Little Pete (Harrison Gilbertson) in tow.
During the race Dino clips Pete, which sends his car flipping off of a bridge and it bursts into flames. Tobey doubles back to try and rescue Pete, but he’s dead and Dino has fled the scene. Tobey is charged with involuntary manslaughter. After serving a two-year prison sentence, Tobey is released on parole and sets out to avenge Pete’s death.
Aside from a couple of cheesy one-liners, I was thoroughly immersed in the intensity that was NFS. Admittedly, some of the crashes made me cringe, especially Pete’s death. But that’s because it, for the most part, took things seriously and added that extra element of “real” to the film. No one was jumping off of cars, here.
The drawbacks in NFS were slight, but definitely noticeable. While cheesy one-liners are oftentimes forgivable, terrible acting and a slow pace are not. Paul is the only one who gave a solid, believable performance throughout the film’s drawn out two plus hours. Even Imogen Poots let me down, which surprised me as I loved her in 28 Weeks Later and the recent Fright Night remake. But if there’s one thing to be said in retrospect, it’s that Paul proves he can stand on his own and should do just fine without his longtime Breaking Bad companion Bryan Cranston.
7.5/10 – Good