It’s really amazing that it’s taken this long for Need for Speed, a popular and never-ending video game series, to get the big-screen treatment. On the heels of the mega-popular The Fast and the Furious and its sequels, there is a built-in audience for this kind of vehicular anarchy. And that audience will likely be pleased, as much of Need for Speed is devoted to cars flying through the air, driving recklessly on the wrong side of the road, making e-brake turns, burning rubber, and otherwise endangering citizens across the United States. What it doesn’t contain, however, is a single good performance, line of dialogue, or idea. There’s little here you haven’t seen before.
Just out of prison after being framed for a crime he did not commit by a rival driver (Cooper), Tobey (Paul) is looking for revenge. The opportunity for it comes in the form of The DeLeon, an annual race whose entrants are hand-picked by a webcam-whoring dude named Monarch (Michael Keaton, looking embarrassed and just going all-out). It’s a high stakes race for only the creme-de-la-creme, and Tobey sees it as an opportunity to clear his name and get even with his arch-nemesis.
Need for Speed is basically one long race and does feature several impressive action sequences. Expensive cars are wrecked at will with fireballs aplenty. What gets lost in translation is anything resembling character or plot interest. Running an ungodly 132 minutes, enthusiasm for the film’s redundant structure is waning by the time the third act even kicks in. Director Scott Waugh and screenwriter George Gatins are basically asking us to watch a single player race for over two hours. Not an appealing proposition. Need for Speed provides some excitement for its target demographic while proving to be an overlong slog for everyone else.
Studio: Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
Length: 132 Minutes
Rating: PG-13 for sequences of reckless street racing, disturbing crash scenes, nudity and crude language.
Theatrical Release: March 14, 2014
Directed by: Scott Waugh
Written by: George Gatins
Cast: Aaron Paul, Dominic Cooper, Imogen Poots, Scott Mescudi, Rami Malek