– Summary –
Director : Scott Waugh
Year Of Release : 2014
Principal Cast : Aaron Paul, Dominic Cooper, Imogen Poots, Scott “Kid” Mescudi, Ramon Rodriguez, Rami Malek, Michael Keaton, Dakota Johnson, Harrison Gilbertson.
Approx Running Time : 130 Minutes
Synopsis: An ex-con, seeking revenge for a crime he did not commit, engages in an all-in car race against the man who put him in prison.
What we think : An assault on all that’s holy and good in this world, Need For Speed is a thunderous waste of everyone’s time; yours, mine, the cast and crew of this stinking turd of a thing. From the acting, to the scripting, to the plot and the discombobulating action, Need For Speed is utterly inane, a nonsensical contrivance designed for sound and fury, a little else. Ugh.
I feel the need.
Films based on computer games are a risky business. In terms of translating the game’s story and visual style to the screen, film-makers have often had hit-and-miss creative success with the genre (and that’s being kind), although in terms of box-office, there’s no denying the market value of such commodity is still well worth a trip to the well. Need For Speed, a film based on the iconic video game series, was probably always going to happen, it was just a question of when. Mining valued franchise IP’s like Need For Speed provide an inbuilt fanbase for the film. And we all know how Resident Evil has gone from strength to strength on the back of some pretty lousy films, so it’s not like a game-movie even needs to be any good, it just has to deliver a cinematic version of what gamers can’t get at home on their X-Boxes.
It’s such a shame that Need For Speed, the film, is just so bad. It’s a horrendous piece of codswallop draped in flashy cars and some admittedly exciting (if underwhelming) action sequences, a film that grinds the gears of creative lethargy and leaves half its drive-train on the ground at the starting line. As far as plot goes, I think there was something about a racing-car mechanic, Tobey Marshall (Aaron Paul), and his arch nemesis, the wealthy and arrogant Dino Brewster (Dominic Cooper) – exactly why they hate each other isn’t clear, but I think it was for a girl (Dakota Johnson) – but it’s when said nemesis causes the death of one of the mechanic’s crew (Harrison Gilbertson) in a fiery wreck, things go from bad to worse, when Tobey is jailed for two years. Upon release, he sets about getting his revenge, by racing in the super-secret De Leon, a car race organized by the reclusive (and wealthy) Monarch (Michael Keaton). Tobey hooks up with exotic car dealer Julia Maddon (Imogen Poots), because who else would be an exotic car dealer than a hot young blonde thing with an attitude the same as Tobey’s? Cue plenty of high speed pursuits, wrecks and racing, as Tobey and Dino take to the roadways of the USA to figure out who has the greater need…. for speed.
It would appear that the conceptual stage of this film might have gone something like this…
Writer: Right, do we open with a car chase?
Writer: …but this is a car movie, right? You don’t want to open with a big, explosive car chase?
Director: Nah, let’s open with a bunch of dudes in a mechanics workshop.
Writer: Okay. And then a car chase?
Director: Sure, why not.
Writer: What about characters? What kind of backstory did you want to give the main character?
Director: Is “bland” a type of character trait?
Writer: …it is now. What about the leading lady?
Director: We need one of those?
Writer: Studio mandate. You have to have hot sexy women in a film with cars, otherwise teenage boys can’t pick which thing to masturbate to.
Director: Okay, just make up something so unbelievable but still fits within our mandate.
Writer: Slutty hooker type, or cheerleader with a heart of gold but no brain?
Director: No, an ice-cool bitch who melts at the first glance from the main character. Strong on the outside, weak as piss on the inside.
Writer: Oh man, that’s so unique.
Director: Yeah, and we need sarcasm in this film too.
Writer: It’ll be mixed with the irony.
Director: I want to have lengthy pauses between car chases and shit. Don’t want to be some mindless car film if we can put in some “drama”, right?
Director: I want some dude to get naked in the middle of it all. For no real reason other than to make it into the trailer.
Writer: You know this movie is about cars, right?
Director: And I don’t want any special effects, so we have to be able to do all these car stunts without computers. And I’m gonna wreck a lot of cars.
Writer: I don’t think that will be a problem.
Director: So what will be a problem?
Writer: Making this film feel in any way believable.
Director: You don’t need anything like that, just make the men seem cool and hip, the girls sexy and the cars really fast.
Writer: What about the main Bad Guy then, you want me to make him really, really nasty, or only slightly nasty?
Director: He’s wearing a leather jacket through this thing right?
Writer: He can if you want.
Director: Screw it, make him just an arrogant asshole. Nobody needs more than that in a bad guy. And make him rich too, like…. Batman rich.
Writer: What kind of cars do you want?
Director: Michael Bay used mainly American cars in his Transformers movies, right?
Writer: I think so.
Director: And that Fast & The Furious mob don’t even care about the cars any more, do they?
Writer: Not since the second one.
Director: Get me some obscure European stuff nobody’s even heard of. Make them look like some kind of spacecraft. Oh, and they need to be brightly colored so the audience can tell them apart.
Writer: So what’s the basic plot you want me to use?
Writer: You know, the stuff between the car chases and explosions.
Director: Ahh. Er….
Writer: Want me to just plagiarize some basic B-movie crap, and cut-and-paste it together?
Director: I didn’t know there was another option….
Writer: How about the main bad guy kills one of the leading characters’ friends, and the leading character goes to prison, then gets out and seeks revenge by driving across country in a powerful Mustang.
Director: There’s a prison? This isn’t Shawshank Redemption.
Writer: It kinda is a little bit.
Director: Will there be a black man in it?
Writer: A small one.
Director: No, a giant black man.
Writer: That was The Green Mile.
Director: Can I have a cancer-sucking black man in my film too?
Writer: No, but this entire film will feel like the life is literally being drained from your soul.
Director: Has any film ever achieved that before?
Writer: Battlefield Earth did.
Director: F@ck you, Travolta.
Writer: We could have some dude flying a plane in it too.
Director: I think I just got an erection. Man that sounds cool.
Writer: And he could be like the guy who sees all the traffic and stuff as the main dude is driving around and stuff.
Director: This film is gonna be awesome.
Writer: That’s debatable.
Director: Do you think we could close off some major highways to film it?
Writer: I think so. Maybe we should just set some of it in Monument Valley for half an hour, that’ll kill off some of our budget and pad out the story a bit.
Director: I know Michael Keaton is interested.
Writer: What kind of character do you want him to be?
Director: I want him to be like some weird cross between Rick Dees, and Robin Williams in Good Morning Vietnam, only with cars and one of the best browser interfaces the world has ever known. And he can’t leave his room. Ever. Not even for a piss.
Writer: You want to keep Michael Keaton inside a room?
Director: The audience won’t know what the f@ck is going on! It’ll be awesome!
Writer: One of those things is correct.
Director: And maybe we’ll get that dude from Breaking Bad to be in it. And Iron Man’s dad. Can you imagine that? How awesome! Geeks will geek!
Writer: So you want the film to have any kind of moral message, or well developed character arc where somebody grows as a person or-
Director: Nah, people only want to see fast cars and hot babes.
Writer: But we could make this film really good if only we-
Director: PCHOW PCHOW, VROOOOOOM EEEEEEERRRRRRRR see, that’s the sound of this film in my head.
Writer: Should I assume gravity and other laws of physics aren’t part of this film either?
Director: These cars are gonna dance like electrified kittens.
Writer: You want me to include kittens?
Director: Can they drive a car?
Writer: Never mind.
For a must better blow-by-blow, check out St Pauly’s rundown of the same film, here.
© 2014, Rodney Twelftree. All rights reserved.