Need for Speed
Photo courtesy of Touchstone Pictures.

[alert-announce] Verdict: 2 out of 5 stars. About two gears short of a being a truly bad-ass ride.  [/alert-announce]

Need for Speed – based very loosely on the EA Games franchise of the same name – was clearly made for anyone who enjoyed the Fast and Furious films, but felt like that series just didn’t defy the laws of physics enough. Which sounds way more damning than it should, but I just couldn’t resist getting that little bit of smartassery in there. Truth be told, Need for Speed’s blatant middle finger to physical logic could have been one of its more charming traits. Emphasis on “could have been.”

Directed by Scott Waugh (who gets props just for having a last name that sounds like a Howard the Duck exclamation), Need for Speed’s action sequences showed some promise of the kind of insanity we’ve come to expect from these sorts of films. Sure, you’ve got a car jumping multiple lanes during a chase sequence and a helicopter-assisted escape, and for a while there, it seemed like Waugh was really hell-bent on upping the game that Fast and Furious perfected – but, despite some nice set-ups, he just failed to really follow through.

It doesn’t help that the action itself is sparse, with a fair amount of time devoted to a story that actually seems flimsier than the plots of all the Fast and Furious films combined. Yes, even Tokyo Drift. Now, look. I don’t exactly watch these movies for story either, but at least Vin Diesel’s vroom vroom brigade tried to have something approaching a coherent yarn to tie all the action together.

"What do you mean I can't say bitch anymore?" Photo courtesy of Touchstone Pictures
“What do you mean I can’t say bitch anymore?” Photo courtesy of Touchstone Pictures

The leads themselves are clearly having fun though, particularly Imogen Poots whom you can’t help but love (and not just because she’s got a way cooler last name than Waugh) and Dominic Cooper (you know… Iron Man’s dad) who’s totally hamming it up as the baddie.

But chances are you’re not watching Need for Speed for those guys, are you? The most important thing to remember here is to not walk into this movie expecting “Aaron Paul: Emmy®-winning Star of Breaking Bad.” Because if you come in hoping to see the same chops he showed during that show, I just hope you’re also OK with watching Ferraris plod along Singapore’s traffic light-ridden streets. It’s not a bad performance, but let’s put it this way: The man’s spent five seasons as one of the main stars in an emotionally intense series. Doesn’t he deserve to take a break for a bit?

(And no, he doesn’t say, “Yeah bitch!” at any point in the film. Jeez, guys, way to pigeonhole an actor.)

I compare it to Fast and Furious a lot, but let’s be honest here. With that series possibly winding down, is definitely looking to take over as the new golden boy of racing film franchises. That said, if it really does want to match up, it’s got a long road ahead of it.

Need for Speed is screening in Singapore now. Let us know what you think of the movie!