Next Oscar Winner? Probably Not: A Need For Speed Review
Since the Oscars, many Americans like me have been trying to catch up and see all of the films nominated for the various awards, if only so you could sound like the smartest person at the coffee pot. Last week, I took a break from artistic indie films and went with a large group to see Need For Speed, a film adaptation of the classic video game. My expectations were not high, thanks to reading Jalopnik’s review beforehand.
Full disclosure: I have never played any of the Need for Speed games, so this review is based solely on the viewing experience.
This is something that I rarely say, but I think that my low expectations helped me to kind of enjoy the film. Sure, the story was very clichéd. Aaron Paul of Breaking Bad is a street racer named Tobey Marshall from upstate New York, and he is accused of a crime he did not commit. Marshall’s rival and the target of his revenge, Dino Brewster, is played by Dominic Cooper, recently of Captain America. There is some stilted dialogue, a stereotypical love interest (played by Imogen Poots), and some very unbelievable commandeering of military aircraft that stack up against the film.
— Need for Speed (@NeedforSpeed) March 16, 2014
Honestly, though, were you really going to a movie based on a video game expecting cinematic excellence?
No. You came for the fast cars, and that’s where the film really delivers. Not just one, but three Koenigsegg Agera Rs race down the highway, and there are many other beauties like the Bugatti Veyron Super Sport, Saleen S7 Twin Turbo, and Lamborghini Sesto Elemento. The real hero car of the film was also an amazing Custom 2014 Ford Mustang GT500 that was supposedly built from Carroll Shelby’s last incomplete project before his death. Watching the cars race on the streets, dodging police officers and other road obstacles was pretty exciting.
— Need for Speed (@NeedforSpeed) March 7, 2014
It was very clear that Ford offered support to the film, due to the starring role of the Mustang and appearances by classic models like the Ford Turino GT. That in itself isn’t a problem, because Marshall’s Mustang ride is gorgeous. The problem is that many stunts performed by the Ford Mustang should have resulted in a severe front-end crunch or the loss of its roof, but the visual damage to the car (without spoiling the action) came not from actual driving but from targeted attacks. Also, the inclusion of the 2015 Ford Mustang, complete with 50th Anniversary logos, was not important to the story and was clearly meant for advertising.
Overall, the movie was a fun ride. If you go into the theater looking for a racing movie with amazing cars, Need for Speed delivers. If you want to watch an Oscar winner, you can always rent Dallas Buyers Club from a Redbox.
P.S.: If you ARE looking for a racing film that was (in my opinion) worthy of an Oscar, I suggest you check out Ron Howard’s Rush starring Chris Hemsworth and Daniel Brühl.
A Dayton native, Rebecca got her start blogging at the curiously named Harlac’s Tongue while studying abroad in the UK. She loves tooling around town with her Ford Focus named Jerome to the song they’re playing on the radio. On any given weekend, you can find her with her camera at area festivals, concerts, and car shows, shopping at flea markets, or taking an adventure on the open road. See more articles by Rebecca.