Writer: Casey ChongWriter Ratings:Overall: Cast: Plot: Effects: Cinematography: Watch this if you liked:
"The Fast And The Furious" series, "Gone In 60 Seconds", "Motorway", "Smokey And The Bandit", "Thunderbolt" and "Initial D"
With so many popular video games fast becoming one of Hollywood's favourite diggers for movie adaptation, it would be a matter of time before we finally get to witness a big screen version of "Need For Speed".
Based on the hugely-successful video game franchise of the same name from Electronic Arts (EA), "Need For Speed" centres on Tobey Marshall (Aaron Paul), who is framed by his racing rival Dino Brewster (Dominic Cooper) and wrongfully imprisoned for the death of his young protege Pete (Harrison Gilbertson). Once out of the prison, he determines to exact revenge against Dino by entering a high-stakes underground racing known as De Leon. But before he can get there in time, he must overcome several obstacles from state to state - which includes evading police, facing traffic and dealing with a bunch of bounty hunters that Dino has put out on his car. Fortunately, he has a beautiful and resourceful car broker Julia Maddon (Imogen Poots) by his side as well as his loyal crew to help him along the way.
Like the Navy SEALs actioner "Act Of Valor" in 2012, director Scott Waugh certainly knows how to stage exhilarating action set-pieces that emphasized heavily on practical effects than over-reliance of CGI to get the job done. And as promised in the promotional trailers, the car stunts are indeed spectacular. Kudos must go to Shane Hurlbut's dazzling camerawork as well as Paul Rubell's and Scott Waugh's fuss-free editing that makes the action sequences cinematic enough to keep the viewers glued to their seats. Among the exciting scenes that this reviewer particularly impressed is the way some of the breathtaking "you-are-there" kind of aerial shots captured from inside the driver's seat when a car is flipped into the air in a dizzying angle before it crashes onto the ground.
But whereas "Need For Speed" succeed on its technical brilliance, the movie falls flat when comes to storyline. George Gatins' debut screenplay is rather disappointing. At 130 minutes, the story feels overlong and drags a lot with too many heavy-handed melodramatic moments. If only Waugh and Gatins are wise enough to trim the excess fat for a more straightforward car-chase thriller, the result would have been more grateful.
As for the cast, Aaron Paul (best known in TV's "Breaking Bad") is adequate enough to play a character that requires him to brood a lot. As Julia, Imogen Poots often steals the show with her spunky performance who certainly knows how to have fun. Not to mention she's pretty likeable and charming as well. Scott Mescudi, who plays the daredevil pilot Benny, is equally entertaining as the movie's frequent comic relief. Another actor worth mentioning here is Rami Malek's happy-go-lucky performance as one of Tobey's team member, Finn. Unfortunately Dominic Cooper hardly impresses much as the main villain Dino, while Dakota Johnson (soon to be seen in the highly-anticipated "Fifty Shades Of Grey" currently scheduled for 2015 release) is nothing more than a mere eye candy as Anita. Equally wasted here is Michael Keaton, who spends all the time playing a racing jock-of-sorts who happens to be the man behind the De Leon underground race. Problem is, his role is so underdeveloped because he's hardly has any direct interactions with other characters that makes this reviewer feel he's somehow a last-minute addition into the movie.
Despite the setbacks, "Need For Speed" provides decent winning formula for a car-chase genre. While "Need For Speed" doesn't go as creative or crazy as those featured in "The Fast And The Furious" series, those who are looking for a more grounded action (not to mention real stunts) will find this movie enjoyable enough to get a few kicks of pure adrenaline rush.Cinema Online, 12 March 2014