Wednesday, 26 April 2017

Need for Speed (2014) - Film Review

Review:

*Originally written May 7th, 2015*

Need For Speed is the first in the franchise of films based on EA's Need For Speed video-games. The first thought you would have is "Based on a video-game it must suck", but thankfully due to Aaron Paul's performance and some extremely impressive practical effects and lack of CGI, Need For Speed is actually a very solid adaptation.

Aaron Paul plays Tobey Marshall a petrol-head who is framed by Dino Brewster (Dominic Cooper) for the death of his friend after a street race gone wrong. After being released from prison he and Julia (Imogen Poots) join a cross country race in order to exact revenge on Dino.

Practical car stunts
While the plot sounds relatively simple, it takes a really long time to get to the actually race. About an hour is given to building Aaron Paul's character, which is a nice change of pace from the way these films usually are, but at the same time it extends the running time of the film to a breaking point. A good 30 minutes of this film could have been cut.

The cast is pretty impressive. Aaron Paul is excellent and handles his first post Breaking Bad role extremely well, he isn't as good as he is in that, but he displays emotion and proves he can be a leading man for films. Imogen Poots is just there, she's fine and has solid Chemistry with Paul. Cooper is forgettable and pretty boring as the antagonist. The supporting cast is really strange, for some reason Michael Keaton is in this, he's OK and has some charisma and fun with his role, but he's mostly a non-entity.

Aside from Aaron Paul, the best and most surprising part of Need For Speed is its the very impressive direction and lack of CGI and a lot of practical effects, which is sadly far too underused these days. It makes the action and racing scenes that much better, you can really tell these were real cars getting trashed and destroyed.

Aaron Paul
People will compare this to Fast and Furious, which is a very fair comparison, but I felt that Need for Speed handled street racing far better than any of the Furious films. In all honesty the Fast and Furious films were never any good until they ditched the racing for over-the-top action and brought in The Rock, which fared the series much better than the Point Break rip-off story with increasingly worse sequels until the fifth.

Need For Speed might lack a strong script and goes on far too long, but thanks to the inclusion of Aaron Paul and practical effects, it's kept from being the rubbish everyone expected it to be. There's room for improvement and there is a sequel in the works, which is set in China. I just hope Aaron Paul's back for it.

6/10 Dans

Need for Speed is out now on Blu-ray and DVD in the UK
Watch the trailer below:

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