Running time: 130 minutes
Starring: Aaron Paul, Dominic Cooper, Scott Mescudi, Imogen Poots, Rami Malek
Who to see it with: Someone who loves the Fast and Furious movies, or fast cars, or video games.
Those looking for a Fast & Furious fix while Universal reworks the seventh movie should check out Need for Speed. Based on the EA video game franchise, Need for Speed follows Tobey, a talented racer who never got a chance to race in the big leagues. Tobey enters an underground, winner-takes-all street race to get revenge for a past wrong (which is set up earlier in the film). However, in order to participate, Tobey must both acquire a fast car and get to the race, a journey all it's own.
Need for Speed really seems like a movie based on the game, with a predictable story, bad writing, transparent and stereotypical characters, over-the-top action, and crazy events. But, since it is based on a video game, this all seems natural. The story itself is more involved than I expected it to be. Need for Speed doesn't live life a quarter mile at a time, and that's not necessarily a bad thing. The movie does a lot of setup to introduce the main characters and their predicament, so it's understandable that this translates into a long film. It does seem like some of the back story and certain scenes in the middle aren't necessary, but the movie didn't seem overly long and I enjoyed having a story with some depth in a video game film. Plus, Tobey's main crew are a fun group of characters; they're not as tight as the group in Fast and Furious movies, but they all have great roles to play and it was nice to see characters in a support role for the main racer.
The film also has little touches here and there that evoke the source material: certain camera angles from within the car cockpit, funny lines that fans of the series will understand, some of the in-movie graphics, and the use of race check marks. The racing itself is very well done with crazy speed and exciting moments. It feels like there aren't as many set pieces as in Fast 6, but maybe that's because that movie bordered on the ridiculous. And like the video game, Need for Speed has some very sexy cars. One of the races in particular is a wet dream of amazing automobiles, something that Fast and Furious--with a more tuner mentality--doesn't have. In the end, Need for Speed might be the first good video game movie. It has a fun cast of characters, great racing, and some of the sexiest cars you'll ever see.