“Need for Speed” fulfills its title, not much else

A predictable plot, static characters and cringe-worthy dialogue make new action thriller a disappointment

Noah Robiner

While many may fondly remember revving their virtual engines on “Need for Speed,” the video game now has been remade for the silver screen.

“Need for Speed” follows Tobey Marshall (Aaron Paul) as a struggling mechanic and wickedly talented street racer. He and his crew are approached by big-shot pro racer Dino Brewster (Dominic Cooper) to do custom work on a two million dollar Shelby Mustang, but after a grueling street race over the profit from the Mustang’s sale with Dino, one of Tobey’s friends dies. Tobey is framed for manslaughter, and when released from prison, embarks on a cross-country journey of revenge. The 190 minute action-adventure leaves audiences bored and exhausted.

The most egregious fault with the film is the dialogue. There are moments of banter between the mechanic crew in the opening scenes that were filled with such overzealous machismo that it became hard to watch. The script feels like it was written by a group of frat boys trying to get from car chase to car chase as quickly as possible. One of the characters is the host of a street racing vlog who serves only as a source of exposition and summary of the plot. Clearly, whoever wrote the screenplay didn’t expect much brainpower to be used analyzing the script while watching.

Paul, who is best known for his striking performance on AMC’s “Breaking Bad,” plays the lead. Although his performance is by far the best in the cast, for an actor of such power, the role of the vengeful street racer feels limiting. The performance of the rest of the cast (including Kid Cudi, who plays the comic relief helicopter pilot) was uninspired and severely limited by the one-dimensional characters they portrayed. However, the casting choice of Imogen Poots as the female lead, Julia Maddon, is impressive. Instead of going the route of enlisting a super-model to play alongside the male lead, the director decided to choose a young actress with some surprising acting chops.

The action sequences, at times chaotic, do have some strong moments. Even amidst the striking racing scenes, the cinematography remains clean and concise. Car-buffs will drool over the array of stunning multi-million dollar sports cars. However, after six somewhat extraneous racing scenes, the thrill of the chase is absent from the audience.

Overall, for viewers hoping to catch some adrenaline-fueled action, this film delivers, but don’t expect much else.