There are terrible movies that are still fun to watch. You turn off your brain and reason, and sit in front of the screen, slack-jawed. Then there are just bad movies that steal two quality hours from your lifespan. You sit there consciously predicting scenes as soon as they start, then angrily shout, “REALLY??” when you are proven right in scene after unsurprising scene. There are no interesting characters. There are not even any scene stealers. There is nothing memorable about the film at all. It simply sucks. Need for Speed is one of those bad movies.
Now, I have never heard of the video game on which this movie is based. I’ve learned (kicking and screaming) that movies spawned from games, toys, and theme park rides aren’t necessarily awful by default, so I was willing to give this movie the benefit of the doubt. But wow, this movie is so formula, that as soon as a character was introduced on screen, I started being one of those annoying people, leaning to my friend and whispering, “The guy who looks like he is from a boy band? He’s gonna die. The hot chick? She is Smarter Than You Would Think For A Chick, and I’ll bet she can drive! Oh, and the hero will get to kiss her. The nemesis? Oh, they will meet again. Oh, yes they will! And who do you think will win? You get ONE guess!!!”
The plot has the good guy Tobey Marshall (Aaron Paul) framed for a street-racing accident that kills Boy Band Petey, who is of course the bright-eyed younger brother of Tobey’s ex (who is barely named, but is there so that there are at least two chick in the movie, I suppose). Truth is, local-boy-made-good-but-turned-bad Dino (Dominic Cooper) fled the scene, framing Tobey for the accident as well as for stealing a million dollar car. Two years later (quick flash forward since we still have two hours to go!), Tobey gets out of jail and looks pissed. He Has Not Forgiven Dino For the Death of Petey.
Blah blah blah. Insert fast car (a souped-up, multi-million dollar Mustang) that Tobey drives across the country, girl in passenger seat (Imogen Poots), on the way to the invite-only Big Race in California, run by a weird, reclusive (yet always online talking to himself) billionaire (Michael Keaton, who at least tries to have fun). There he will face off against Dino, once and for all.
It is inexcusable that a movie about racing is boring. Really, how did the filmmakers accomplish that? The Mustang IS a hot car, but even the racing scenes, for the most part, are DOA, just like Boy Band Petey. Aaron Paul’s Tobey is too cranky and grim to have any charisma. The rest of the supporting characters are token: multi-ethnic buddies, a girl-slash-love interest, a bad guy, a dead father. The plot is so completely, eyeball-rollingly rote that I found myself gritting my teeth through the film, thinking of how much money Hollywood pours into movies like this, rather than giving original talent a chance (oh, but that is another topic entirely…).
Need for Speed arrives with a dead battery sorely in need of a jump start… or even a friendly push to get it rolling. Throw a tarp over this baby and lock up the garage where it came from.