REVIEW: Need For Speed (3D) (12A)

Starring: Aaron Paul, Dominic Cooper, Imogen Poots

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We’re in a post-‘Breaking Bad’ world, and Aaron Paul is making his first bid for movie stardom. Is this adaptation of the successful movie game series his ticket to the a-list?

Imprisoned for a crime he didn’t commit, mechanic/street racer Tobey (Aaron Paul) gets out of jail and immediately vows revenge on devious millionaire Dino (Dominic Cooper), who framed him for the death of his friend. Getting together his crew, he borrows a classic Ford Mustang from a wealthy benefactor to beat Dino at an infamous, cross-country, illegal street race. First, however, he must convince his benefactor’s car dealer (Imogen Poots) that he has what it takes.

Aspiring to be more of a ‘road movie’ than the next ‘Fast and Furious’, director Scott Waugh packs the film with impression car chases (all real, with no CGI), glamorous cars and even more glamorous backdrops. There’s just one problem- he forgot to add a script. With a plot that wanders all over the map, and dialogue that will make even the most forgiving of viewers wince (such as the painful first meeting between Poots’ character and Paul’s), the film is a prime example of what happens when the action is pushed at the expense of story.

Need for Speed stars Aaron Paul and Dominic Cooper

The characters are terribly broad, the scenarios wildly improbable (such as one of Paul’s crew’s ability to steal helicopters and planes at will), and the payoff not compelling enough to paper over the cracks.

On the plus side, Aaron Paul certainly does have an on-screen presence. Not as physically imposing as a Vin Diesel, his ‘strong, silent’ approach would have worked well were it backed with some quality dialogue. Poots’ performance is a bit hysterical at times, often comprising of little more that big facial expressions, although she has some nice chemistry with her co-star.

Elsewhere, Cooper has little choice other than to be a pantomime-like villain given what he has to work with, while Michael Keaton appears to be having the most fun as the mysterious organiser of the race.

Overall, ‘Need For Speed’ is a film that we imagine was more fun to make than it is to watch. While Aaron Paul will no doubt have more shots at movie stardom, this project doesn’t have the drive to succeed.

Need For Speed is in cinemas from March 12.

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