Need for Speed is an embarrassment to those involved. While videogame movies are not usually good or even intended to be good, but what Need for Speed does is seek to be both a revenge thriller and a fun action movie. An attempt to make a silly action movie is admirable, but Need for Speed doesn’t do that. The film tries to be a legitimate drama, a legitimate comedy, and a legitimate action film. Unfortunately, it does not succeed on any of these fronts.
A benefit that Need for Speed has over other videogame films is the fact that it has a few talented actors. Aaron Paul attempts to create a three-dimensional character that is both relatable and cool, but the direction he is given takes his character to ridiculous levels that make him unfortunately weak. Paul’s character is also unbalanced; in some scenes he shows over the top emotion, in others he is recluse and grumbles his lines, and in others he seems to be the jovial and gregarious action star that was expected from the film.
The supporting cast also falls victim to the script due to the generic and ridiculous characters that they intend to portray. Dominic Cooper’s character is given a strong opening scene, but his character is taken in directions that are unforgivably generic, predictable, and inconceivable. While a film’s villain should have some sort of repulsive nature, but the script takes every opportunity to remind the audience that Cooper is the villain and that his character is the generic rich guy that takes everything from the villain. The result is an extremely cartoony character in a film that intends to be a serious thriller. However, the other supporting characters are utterly ridiculous and stereotypical of a goofy action film, specifically Imogen Poots, who’s character is about as generic as a female co-lead can get. None of these characters are memorable or successful in their attempts to provide supposed comic relief. Michael Keaton is perhaps the “best” actor in the film simply because his character is not as horrible as some of the others.
The film’s main problem is its script. The film’s writer, George Gatins, seems like he’s writing two different films: a hardcore revenge thriller and a silly action film. This is irritating not only because the switch between these two styles is choppy, but because the film is unsuccessful in both of these. The dramatic elements of the film seem very cheesy and predictable, while the sillier aspects are simply unfunny and too over the top. The result is a film that is not entertaining or actually well made.
Then there are the plot holes. While no action film is perfect and many film fans overact to minor inconsistencies, Need for Speed has countless plot holes that are obnoxious and take the audience out of the film. None of the practical sequences are even remotely conceivable, such as a character that seems to be able to get countless flying vehicles without being checked, caught, or given training on how to be operate the plane. The film’s core plot revolves around Aaron Paul and his group being tracked by authorities, but his group never has a reason to break any laws, and the authorities are ridiculously incapable of catching Aaron Paul and his group. While it is difficult to discuss these plot holes without spoilers, just be warned that the director tries to connect logic that simply doesn’t work.
The technical elements of the film are a mixed bag. The score is actually quite good, but feels out of place sometimes and is unfortunately substituted for background songs. The cinematography is particularly mixed; some shots are beautifully shot and give the film a sense of beauty, but some are very shaky and distracting. The sound effects are all very over the top and feel very distracting within the convoluted action scenes. The CGI is good, but not anything remarkable compared to other action films.
Need for Speed is a convoluted mess of a film that feels unbalanced and unfortunate. While some individual sequences are mildly entertaining, the film is overall very poorly written, directed, and acted. Compared to other videogame film adaptations, Need for Speed is hardly one of the worst, but it is unfortunately still a bad film with glaring flaws. A message to director Scott Waugh: if you’re going to rip-off the ending of another film, don’t rip off the ending of Cars. Grade: D