Mar 15, 2014

Need For Speed - A review

Guest Blogger - Chancellor Ross Wyman

Thanks to Metro Detroit Mommy, I went to see a sneak preview of Need For Speed last Thursday.

Borrowing loosely from the video game of the same name and very heavily from the Fast & Furious films, there's really nothing new here.  If you're looking for fast exotic cars, this movie has them in spades.  If you're looking for spectacular car crashes, there are quite a few of them too.  Races and chases?  Sure!  If you're expecting a well-plotted film, then I would suggest looking elsewhere.

The title of the film feels like an unfulfilled promise. Need for Speed is ironically very slow and takes a while to get its wheels spinning, literally.  After a 15 minute setup, which is eons in movie time, there is a race.  By the time it started, I found my attention wandering.  There are other races too, and the plot loosely comes up with ways to get from one to the other without requiring very much thought.

There are a lot of stock characters you've seen in other films.  The quiet, cool, but strong hero who is a driving prodigy.  The girl he left behind.  The bad guy whose only function is to provide tension.  The girl who knows guy stuff and surprises guys with this information.  The angel-faced innocent kid who almost screams sacrificial lamb.  And the hero's crew who follow him blindly and provide comic relief.

Aaron Paul, who was so great in 'Breaking Bad', isn't given much to do here except try to exude cool.  He deserves a better film.  Scott Mescudi (aka Kid Cudi) pulls off some funny moments here and there.  But the oddest part of this film is Michael Keaton, performing what feels like a quirky one-man show destined for off-broadway.  As the backer of a mythical final race, he sits behind a microphone the whole time and provides eccentric narration that borders on omniscience.

One bright spot for me was seeing the scenes filmed in Detroit and the copious amounts of screen time devoted to a Mustang that is the sole reason for even having this movie in the first place.  Detroit and muscle cars go hand-in-hand.

It's a fun movie, at least for the car chases and stuntwork (very little to no CGI).  Pretty much everything else requires you to check your brain at the door.  But that might be hard since the slow pace gives you plenty of time to question some of the sillier parts of the plot.

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