By Lauren Fetter
Aaron Paul’s transition from television actor to movie star in “Need for Speed” might not give him the big break he was hoping for. Not even an award-winning actor could make this uninspiring story anything more than a clip straight out of a video game.
The film focuses on Paul’s character, a street racer newly released from prison, who is determined to avenge his friend’s death at the hands of a former rival, played by Dominic Cooper, after being framed for the crime. With only 45 hours to get from New York to California to enter and compete against Cooper in the De Leon, an illegal winner-takes-all race, Paul and his sidekick, a blonde bombshell played by English actress Imogen Poots, set out on a cross-country adventure featuring its own twists and turns along the way.
Within the first 15 minutes, it was easy to see that the plot line would be taking a back seat to the film’s racing sequences, understandably so as the film is based off of a video game series of the same name. Ironically enough, the shots depicting these crucial races showed no action at all, just a variety of unattractive close-ups, poor special effects and the obnoxious roar of an engine.
Aaron Paul’s performance would have been better received had the movie’s story line been more cohesive and allowed for character development. He made the most of his character while tapping into a variety of emotions, ultimately giving a believable performance.
Unfortunately, the same cannot be said of his co-stars. Sitting through 130 minutes of this movie became painful after the first few moments as stock characters and lackluster performances unfolded on the screen. Originality is apparently a thing of the past.
Though an obvious attempt was made to entice thrill-seekers and car enthusiasts alike, it might be more worthwhile to just play the video game instead. Bits and pieces of dialogue were used sparingly, as they were randomly strewn and often misplaced within the action sequences. Engine roars and the sounds of explosions quickly became more common than conversations between characters. The movie might as well have been silent, as actors added nothing crucial to the story line.
The film would have been a must-see if it had been executed correctly, trying to appeal to viewers of all demographics, rather than focusing solely on the fans of the game. However, the only feeling “Need for Speed” was successful in creating was a severe need for sleep.