Video game movies have always entered the box office tainted with the quality of older films.
“They won’t live up to the experience you have as a player!”
“It’s too surreal to translate to the silver screen!”
Such statements tend to crowd the social advertising space and become the review a film doesn’t want before it’s even released.
And ‘Need For Speed’ hasn’t escaped this.
Since it’s announcement, the film has been met by “Urghs…” and “Whys?”. And while this may have been detrimental to the promotion the film should be allowed up until release, in the end it’s a mixture of these reactions with “Hey, this wasn’t too bad!”.
The ‘Need For Speed’ series of games has always been a simple concept. Race and win. While the series has grown beyond this in more recent iterations, it has always revolved around this. To translate such a thing to the screen then, involves developing something more, and hoping this is watchable in some way, shape or form. While the film doesn’t drastically succeed in doing so, it still comes off as a fun watch and, in my books, is worthy of a sequel (Especially for all the subtitles they could use!).
Fan-favourite Aaron Paul takes center as ‘Tobey Marshall’, a gifted driver working as a mechanic in a family business. He is framed for a crime he didn’t commit, and the movie revolves around Tobey trying to clear himself of this act. With this, we see him reunite with his old crew (Portrayed by Ramon Rodriguez, Rami Malek and Scott Mescudi (a.k.a Kid Cudi)), get help from an acquaintance with links in the business world (Imogen Poots) and go on to race against the person who may or may not be the cause of his troubles (Dominic Cooper).
Most people will compare this to the ‘Fast & Furious’ franchise, which is reasonable as both involve cars. But that would also be like comparing ‘Fast & Furious’ to the original ‘Gone In 60 Seconds’ or ‘Italian Job’ (Which no doubt happened). This film tries to carve out it’s own path, and while its races aren’t as adrenaline-fuelled as the ‘Fast’ series, the technical aspects of it make it quite a joy to watch, especially when you see high-end luxury cars going 1-on-1.
With humour only lightly drizzled throughout, the story mostly takes on the dramatic. No doubt this is to set up the series for something larger, but it makes this film feel like set pieces sprinkled together to form a whole.
‘Need For Speed’ isn’t a bad film. While it may not live up to the large requirements that ‘Blockbuster’ attaches to it, it certainly does enough right to fit into the category of a ‘Popcorn Flick’ that leaves you with enough satisfaction to applaud what they’ve attempted to do.