When Need For Speed opens next month you may read that one of the selling points is that all of the stunts are practical and not CG. That–to me– seems strange considering it’s an adaptation of the EA driving game series. One would think that fans of the game would have no problem at all with wildly improbable physics and unlikely crash scenarios that might have been less expensive to render in computers than with real cars and stunt drivers but lets give the makers credit: When it comes to cars and driving they deliver.
Need for Speed may be the most faithful video game film adaptation. By concentrating wholly on delivering on the esoterica of custom speed machines to the exclusion of all other movie elements isn’t it just staying true to the games? Mea culpa, many game consoles have come and gone since the last time I played Need for Speed. Nevertheless, Need for Speed The Movie is basically a series of long race stunts linked together with an entirely generic renegade sports comeback story. Since this movie was made under the aegis of EA studios you can just see the notes being sent back to the movie people: “more cars, less plot”.
Aaron Paul (in his first role since playing meth addict Jesse Pinkman on Breaking Bad) is an ace driver who is trying to support his small town garage by restoring legendary obscure cars while winning illegal races. His friends are stereotypes: The wild eyed crazy guy. The fresh-faced naive sacrificial lamb. The black friend who is funny because black friends are funny. And some other guy who they need because he drives a truck or something.
In a long winded first act, our hero, let’s call him Driver, is reacquainted with an old rival, gets his young friend killed in an illegal race (well, there are no legal races in this movie) and now we are set up for the rest of the movie. See, he has to come back for REVENGE and REDEMPTION. You now know the rest of the plot. There will be a final race. There will be a love interest and the only question is how many cars, planes and helicopters will be hurtling across the screen by the time it is over. The answer is quite a few.
Fans of cars or at least video game versions of cars will be more than satisfied by the variety of Bugattis, Lambos, Mustangs and obscure ultra expensive street-illegal machines churn up the highways in the several chase sequences in the film. Those viewers needing speed will get it and although my view wasn’t especially optimal for the screening one thing I thought was really nice was the audio. Whining transmissions, torqueing motors and skittering tires make up a very satisfying collage of sound. The dialogue? Not so much.