September 6th, 2014

NEED FOR SPEED (2014) * ½

(Apologies in advance to faithful reader Darksteel6, who recommended this movie to me. I tried to like it. Sorry.)

Need for Speed is based on a video game I have never played. If this movie is any indication, I’m not missing much. I’ve always been a Mario Kart guy anyway.

Aaron Paul (that one guy from that TV show everyone tells me I should watch) is this dude who builds a car for this rich asshole (Dominic Cooper). He stupidly agrees to get into a street race with him along with his dorky buddy. Predictably, the dorky buddy winds up as roadkill and Paul is blamed for the accident and goes to jail. Two years later, he gets out of the joint and enters an underground race ran by Michael Keaton where he sets to prove that Cooper was the one responsible for the dorky buddy’s death.

Need for Speed is 130 minutes long. Let that sink in for a minute. A movie based on a video game is 130 minutes long. Jesus. You could beat a video game in the time it takes you to watch this. Why the filmmakers made this flick 50 minutes longer than absolutely necessary is beyond me. If the plot was nothing more than Paul going to jail, getting out, and entering the race, it would’ve been one thing. However, there’s a whole subplot about him going cross country and avoiding a bunch of assholes trying to run him off the road that stops the movie on a dime.

I never bothered to watch Breaking Bad (mostly because I can’t stand the fact that a station called “American MOVIE Classics” is playing TV shows, but that’s another rant for another day), but this Paul guy has the screen charisma of an oil pan. It’s pretty hard to take him seriously at any given moment, and he sounds ridiculous while trying way too hard to sound like a badass. In fact, he sounds like Will Arnett’s Batman from The Lego Movie.

The good news is that Michael Keaton is pretty great as the organizer of the race. He has a couple of funny blustery speeches where he flashes some of the old Beetlejuice magic. Too bad he spends most of the movie behind a desk while broadcasting a podcast (or whatever the fuck it is).

Imogen (Fright Night) Poots co-stars as the annoying British love interest. If you think she’s annoying though, wait until you see Paul’s annoying gaggle of friends. These guys will grate on your nerves something fierce. And what’s with that irritating guy who flies the plane and tells Paul where to go? Wouldn’t GPS work better?

There’s also a really bizarre scene where one of Paul’s pit crew guys strips totally naked and runs around an office building. Was this part in the game? It goes on forever and isn’t funny at all. Mostly, I just felt embarrassed for the people who were hired as extras on the set that day.

The car chases and race sequences are filmed in a competent enough manner, I guess. At least they don’t resort to that shaky-cam nonsense, I’ll give them that. Overall, Need for Speed just feels like the bastard stepchild of a Fast and the Furious movie, without any of the charm, machismo, or fun.