Film Review: “Need For Speed”

**1/2OUT OF 4

need-for-speed-posterDirector Scott Waugh(“Act of Valor”) is a third- generation stuntman with a long family tradition of working on movies in which the cars themselves become the stars. “Need for Speed”is an action movie based on  the popular racing video game which features Aaron Paul  of “Breaking Bad”fame as Tobey Marshall a mechanic who possesses world class driving skills.   The movie is replete with spectacular driving stunts that act as a sort of homage to classic driving movies such as Steve McQueen  in “Bullitt”, Burt Reynolds  in “Smokey and the Bandit” and Gene Hackman in “French Connection” rather than “The Fast and Furious” franchise, of which it would like to over-take.

The guts of the story revolve around a tragic accident and a 45 hour coast-to coast qualifying race which sets up an illegal street race through Big Sur and north into redwood country.  The beginning of the film sends these exotic cars caroming through the streets off Mount Kisco, New York in the middle of the night.  Later,  another race in Westchester County,  has these super cars barreling down the highways against traffic in broad daylight. All of this is purported to be done with little or no CGI.

Needless to say, George Gatin’s script has so many bouts of logic- defying,  implausible situations that take the edge off of what could have been a “classic” cool car movie. But there is so much to savor. Dominic Cooper turns in a stellar performance as Dino, the rich kid full of evil intent.  Michael Keaton plays Monarch, the organizer of the race,  while Imogen Poots  brings a lurid edge to the role of Julia Maddon, a British car aficionado who supports Tobey in his most dire moments.

“Need for Speed” is recommended as a “popcorn-movie” with amazing stunts and a chance to experience a visceral surge in your bloodstream. “Fast and Furious” has nothing to worry about.

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