'Need for Speed' crashes
Let's all just take a moment and acknowledge that we are almost three months into 2014 and so far the best action movie to be released is "Robocop" by the technicality that while it was a major disappointment, it was passable. I really wanted "Need For Speed" to be good. As a huge fan of "Breaking Bad," I was excited to see how Aaron Paul would do as a leading star in an action movie. Its premise also intrigued me and for a moment I felt that it could finally be the good video game adaptation we all, or at least I, have been waiting for. Unfortunately, the film feels more like you're sitting in the back seat screaming while a drunk driver swerves all over the highway at 180 miles per hour than an actual action thriller.
There isn't much I can say to defend this movie. While the film spends a lengthy amount of time in its introduction, it manages to leave many plot holes and still lacks any sort of development in its story. The characters are worse. The cast really does a good job with Aaron Paul, Scott Mescudi and Michael Keaton giving good performances, but their characters are weak with absolutely no development. Paul's leading role gets the most I suppose, but even then the audience is left with absolutely no idea who these people are from start to finish. While there are a lot of well-filmed shots and cool effects, overall the film is poorly directed.
While it attempts to rival "The Fast and the Furious Franchise," it ignores everything that makes that franchise work. We don't know enough about the characters to either invest in them or care for them. Other than car chases and stunts there is really no other action. The chases are cool and entertaining, but after a while it feels formulaic. While it would work great as a video game where we can overlook underdevelopment in the story and characters for great gameplay and cool scenes, it doesn't work on film because we are not partaking in any of this.
The film suffers from what most video game adaptations do. There seems to be an expectation that the target audience will not care how the movie turns out if it is filled with enough action to keep them happy. In the "Resident Evil" movies, we see a lot of violence and gore linked by absurdity only there to keep the carnage going. In "Need for Speed" there seems to be some attempt to tell a story, but it is really all filler to link the races and chases. The car sequences are entertaining and the filler is not as bad as it could have been, but it is still not well done.
At the end of the day, "Need For Speed" is really a B-movie that cannot be taken seriously. It is not "The Fast and the Furious" where we can actually invest in the story, its characters and the action on a serious level. Still, "Need for Speed" is surprisingly fun. If you can watch it with low expectations and overlook everything that comes between races and car chases, it is somewhat entertaining and not the most painful experience you'll ever have at the movies. Still, it feels as if there was so much potential in this film that was never reached on paper and then never questioned by the director.
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