All it took was the name Need For Speed to catch the attention of this classic PlayStation 2-era video gamer.
Hard to believe, the Bishop-at-Large is an actual diehard pedal-to-the-metal adrenaline junkie. Over the last decade and a half, I spent countless hours finding most of the shortcuts and secrets throughout many of the series’ master courses. While the fun factor has always featured off-the-chart madness, I had the type of precision controller skills that could make a surgeon jealous. Police-chasing, bumper-tapping, car-flipping — this was the hysteria swirling Need For Speed years before there was anything Too Fast & Too Furious.
In the case of the most recent big screen adaptation, Need For Speed (Electronic Art in partnership with Dreamwork Pictures) is one of those “it’s probably not a good idea to adapt a video game into a movie” issue. Unfortunately for us — the gamer/movie fanatic — the big studios only see the billions of games sold per year, and persistently attempt to capitalize on those numbers despite the failure of every adaptation this side of Tomb Raider (which still sucked).
Points for NFS, tho? The opening credits feature a great homage to the late great racing/acting BADASS Steve McQueen, including a snippet from Bullitt. Immediately after, viewers are thrown into the movie like a car magically spawning from the junkyard of Burnout Paradise.
This is where we get are first look at Aaron Paul (Breaking Bad) as Tobey Marshall, a garage mechanic with racing skills that would make Ron Howard weep. And no disrespect to McQueen or Paul, but neither of the two possess the magic behind the wheel like Charlie Sheen’s Jake Kesey (from 1986’s The Wraith). Tiger Blood, Baby!!!!! We also get to meet Marshall’s crew, which includes Benny (Rapper Kid Cudi) and Pete Coleman (Harrison Gilbertson). Cudi? How very F&F Walker/Luda.. of the studio.
The Crew head over to a secret meet up at a local drive-in theater, where Tobey finds himself face-to-face with archrival Dino Brewster (Dominic Cooper) — who I wonder is Punky’s older brother. Dino is dating Anita Coleman (Dakota Johnson), Pete’s big sister and Tobey’s former love interest. How convenient. Cut to the race, and car fiends are thankfully blessed with some real beauty! There’s no better reason to see the flick than to feast your eyes on this vast arsenal of fuel-suckers:
-1967 Pontiac GTO
-Shelby Mustang Concept Car
-Veyon Super Sport
-Saleen S7 Twin Turbo
-1966 Ford F-100
-1968 Chevrolet Camaro SS 396
-1969 BMW 2800 CS
-1969 Ford Torino GT
-1987 Porsche 944 S
-2015 Ford Mustang
-1971 “Big Oly” Ford Bronco,
-Lamborghini Sesto Elemento
-Koenigsegg Agera R
Following your typical roller-coaster of emotional twists that typically make up films like this (protagonist wins, but faces adversity in his personal life; therefore, the antagonist has the upper-hand with an immense challenge, yadda, yadda…), Tobey’s higher goal is to build a Shelby GT Project car. At the car showcase, Tobey and Pete meet Julia Maddon (Imogen Poots), a high-end car dealer who acquires cars for wealthy clients. Cue: pissing match. Manhood is on the line. Now the car must be amped to fit Miss Maddon’s needs, with the type of offer that saves all of the world’s problems.
Yeah, I just want to hear some screeching sounds too.
In addition to the unsurprising pursuit of the streets paved with betrayal and consequence, Need For Speed should rekindle the fire of those with great love of the vehicles and the video games. Otherwise, you’ve got to feel for the film’s director Scott Waugh (Act of Valor). The script’s lame love angle and missed justice will cause groans to even the most casual of moviegoers. Even the presence of Monarch (Michael Keaton) — who offers the most exclusive invite-only race — couldn’t save the need for more salvation. Final sting, the OST hurt like the a wreck on the last lap at Talladega.
Dreamworks’ Need For Speed in theaters now.