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Mario Bautista, has been with the entertainment industry for more than 4 decades. He writes regular columns for People's Journal and Malaya.

Mar 25, 2014

Need For Speed Movie Review: It Needs A Better Lead Actor

‘NEED FOR SPEED’ is another video game that’s given a story and turned into a movie. If you’re a “Fast and Furious” fan who goes for well staged car racing scenes, you’d enjoy this one even if it lacks a truly coherent story. The lead character is Tobey Marshall (Aaron Paul), a mechanic who’s considered the fastest man in Mt. Kisco, New York. He owns a motor shop but it’s having financial problems after his dad died, so he accepts the offer of a rich professional racer Dino Brewster (Dominic Cooper) to complete an expensive Mustang GT500 car that iconic automotive designer Carroll Shelby was working on when he died in 2012.

Tobey's crew is composed of chief mechanic Joe Peck (Ramon Rodriguez), techie Finn (Rami Malek), Army Reserve pilot Benny (Scott Mescudi) and Little Pete (Harrison Gilbertson), the younger brother of his former girlfriend, Anita (Dakota Johnson), who now belongs to Dino. After the car is completed, Dino challenges Tobey and Little Pete to compete with him in a street race. This tragically results into a fatal accident where Little Pete is killed.

Tobey is the one blamed and imprisoned, even if it’s really Dino who is responsible. He serves his jail sentence for two years and when he comes out, a high end British car broker he befriended, Julia (Imogen Poots), helps him enter an underground winner-takes-all cross country race operated by an online shock jock, Monarch (Michael Keaton). He’ll be competing with five other famous drivers, including Dino himself, on whom Tobey wants to take revenge.

Dino then offers a big prize to bounty hunters who can stop Tobey from joining the race while he drives from New York to California, leading into some exciting car stunts that even includes a helicopter. The movie is helmed by former stuntman Scott Waugh, who did a good job in showing the heroic feats of the Navy Seals in "Act of Valor" and he succeeds anew in coming up with eye-popping, hair-raising car stunts in “Need for Speed”. He surely knows how to somersault a car and where to place the camera for maximum spectacular impact on screen.

Car enthusiasts will enjoy the movie as it really goes vroom-vroom while featuring classics like a Gran Torino, Camaro and Pontiac GTO as well as a sleek Lamborghini, Bugatti Veyron, McLaren P1, GTA Spano and Saleen S7. The well staged daredevil car chase sequences don’t resort to CGI and show beautiful and scenic spots in Detroit, Utah, the Bonneville Flats and Mendocino's Lighthouse Road. Aside from the “Fast and Furious” franchise, the movie will remind you of past films about fast cars like “Smokey and the Bandit”, “Gone in 60 Seconds”, “Bullitt”, “Thelma and Louise” and the animated film “Cars”.

Imogen Poots (last seen with Zac Effron in “That Awkward Moment”) dominates all her scenes and fills the screen with her sexy likable presence. Scott Mescudi as the daredevil pilot who helps Tobey provides some welcome comic relief. Dominic Cooper serves his purpose as the villain. Ironically, it’s the vertically challenged Aaron Paul who doesn’t fill the bill as the hero. He’s better off playing the drug pusher role in the acclaimed TV series, “Breaking Bad”. We don’t think he’s fit to play lead roles as he’s really more of a character actor type.