Need for Speed: REVIEW

Do you have the need?

Movies based on Video Games rarely work. Tomb Raider. Prince of Persia. Resident Evil… So now, based on one of the best-selling video game series in history, Need for Speed has a tough job ahead of it: it has to convince us that it actually deserves to exist. 

I’ll go out on a limb and confess that I really did enjoy the dumb-fun explosive fun of Need for Speed. Growing up playing the NFS games, I was extremely impressed with how the filmmakers made the film look and feel exactly like the video game; many times I felt as if my favorite childhood game had come to life and I was truly in it. The car chase sequences are beautifully shot, riveting, and unlike racing scenes in any other films.

Straight off his career-defining role in Breaking Bad, Aaron Paul turns from “cooking” in RV’s to drag-racing in sports cars. His is the best performance in the film, proving he may have the chops to be an action star yet. Paul’s “love interest” Julia, played by Imogen Poots, is also a refreshing change of pace. She’s actually funny and decisive and cute– not just another Megan Fox along for the ride to look hot and sell tickets.
All the other performances, however, leave much to be desired. Michael Keaton, in particular, seems to have phoned-in his work on this movie.

Little of Need for Speed makes logical sense. There’s plenty of scenes featuring stunts so ridiculous, I was scratching my head in confusion– yet the ten-year-old boy in me was still squealing with delightHanging off the side of a car on the freeway to refuel it… A helicopter lifting up a car by only its (very fragile) roof… Cars exploding in midair… Does it make much sense? No. But is it a whole lot of fun to watch? Yeah.

+ All the chase scenes are riveting and shot brilliantly
+ Acts as an earnest homage to car culture
+ Aaron Paul great in his debut film performance
+ A big bunch of dumb-fun thrills

Leave logic at the door
– Plenty of cheesy dialogue
– All the actors other than Paul and Poots need to step up their game


review-grade6Need for Speed is an explosive, fast-paced, and adrenaline-laced, if corny and hackneyed, tale of a man and his quest for revenge within the world of illegal street racing. There’s plenty of “What the– yeah right, that would never happen” moments, but let’s be honest– no one’s coming to a movie like Need for Speed for the complex mythology or compelling character development. NFS is a movie that lends itself to suspension of disbelief: and if you can do that, you’ll be in for a fun ride.


Need for Speed is rated PG-13 for “disturbing crash scenes, sequences of reckless driving, nudity, and language.” One character is seen stripping and walking through his office– his backside getting awfully familiar with the camera. Multiple characters die in car crashes, and there’s a mild amount of language. 

© Matt Tory, 2014. 

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