Tobey (Aaron Paul) is a mechanic with a passion for street racing cars. When a race goes wrong, Tobey is left to take the blame. Two years later, Tobey returns to the world of street racing to take the title – and a whole lot of money – the man who set him up.
There are films in this world that are not meant to change the way we look at movies, each other or the world. These movies are just meant to be pretty and entertaining. Need for Speed is one of these films.
The cast is made up of Aaron Paul as Tobey, the blue collar guy with something to prove, Dominic Cooper as Dino Bewster, the rich racer with too much money on his hands and Imogen Poots as Julia, the love interest. The film also stars Dakota Johnson, Michael Keaton, Rami Malek and Scott Mescudi. There is not much to say about the performances, except that each character has a plot point to fulfil, and each actor manages to stay within the lines of their poorly drawn characters. Delineation is not really the name of the game here, and at almost every point, we are waiting for Aaron Paul to shout something along the lines of ‘Car me, bitch!’, which would not have been that out of place.
The story is a classic local boy with a heart of gold seeking revenge against a smarmy git who made trouble. Writer George Gatins did not seem to be overly troubled with developing animosities or giving any of the characters a back story; instead we are thrown into this world at the deep end and, since it is so familiar, we get it almost straight away.
Director Scott Waugh seemed to be most concerned with the car races and chases, and even though these are moderately entertaining, we have seen these done better in almost any car chase movie you care to mention. There are some interesting POV shots though, and some lovely cinematography of the landscape, but this too has been done before.
Need for Speed is an over the top film set in a world where the only way to settle differences is to race it out in expensive cars. That said, this is not a film that is designed to be anything other than pretty cars and pretty people, so in that respect it succeeds. It’s just a shame that this film, populated by good actors, has not got a cleverer story or a fresher take on the car chase movie.