Guest Blogger: Need For Speed Review

screen-shot-2014-03-06-at-10-31-29-pmThe latest guest blogger is Brian from Brian was gracious enough to give us a great review of Aaron Paul’s newest film, Need For Speed. Thanks again to Brian for being our latest guest blogger!

Scott Waugh’s “Need For Speed” is a surprisingly entertaining film, especially if you enjoy exotic cars moving at hyper-legal speeds.  That is, as long as one understands that just because something is “entertaining” doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s “good.”  Reason is, on one hand the story defies logic in too many instances, and on the other there are important characters that lack any sort of nuance or subtlety.

For instance, one is less a person than a way for the filmmakers to provide exposition, while another so obviously can’t be trusted that if he had the word “Villain” tattooed on his forehead and sported a black handlebar mustache that he would twirl ominously, he wouldn’t see any less trustworthy.

What works are the practical–as far as I can tell–car chases, which are some of the best that I have seen.  The cast, Aaron Paul, Scott Mescudi, Rami Malek and Imogeen Poots, are also so engaging and game that no matter how ludicrous things get–and it gets pretty thick at times–you just roll with it.

The story is pretty simple–which is why when things don’t happen the way they probably should it’s so irritating–and revolves around Tobey Marshall (Aaron Paul) and his friends, who are also his mechanics and street racing crew, and work at the garage he inherited from his father.

What Tobey hasn’t told them is that the bank owns the note on the garage, and intends to collect if he can’t make the payment.  This is why when Dino Brewster (Dominic Cooper) –which has to be one of the worst names ever–offers him a chance to earn a million to repair a vintage Ford Shelby Mustang, he jumps at the opportunity.

Now keep in mind that the relationship between Tobey Marshall and Dino Brewster is one laced with land mines because both men came from the same town, yet Brewster managed to escape and build a life for himself as a famous race car driver.  He also happens to be dating the girl who Marshall once loved, and still carries a flame for.

But despite his success, you know that Dino would do anything to win, that for him winning is the be-all and end-all.

Tobey also happens to work with his former girlfriend’s brother, Pete (Harrison Gilbertson), who he loves like a brother.

Tobey, Pete, and Dino soon enter a street race, which Tobey wins.

I should mention that the film has a tendency to have its cake and eat it too, often embodied in the character of Benny (Scott Mescudi, otherwise known as Kid Cudi) who’s a pilot who flies when they race, informing Tobey where police and Samaritans are.  It’s a noble idea, but should only minimize the amount of civilians killed when cars are racing through the streets at hyper-legal speeds, not stop them entirely.

But this isn’t the ‘Dark Knight’ of auto racing movies, and I understand why the filmmakers did as they did, though it doesn’t make it any less silly.

Having been beaten in the street race, Dino makes Tobey an offer:  They race again, and if he wins, he keeps the money he would have given Tobey, if he loses, Tobey gets it all.

This goes exactly as you probably thought it would go, and ends up with Tobey in prison, and his crew spread to the four winds.

Will he get out of jail?  Can he pull his team back together?  Can he somehow manage to enter Monarch’s (Michael Keaton) race, the DeLeon, and clear his name?

Of course he will, though what makes the film interesting is that it understands that the trip matters as much as the destination, which is pretty thrilling.

Aaron Paul first came to my attention on “Breaking Bad,” though he has a remarkably broad resume in both television and movies.  During the run of ‘Bad” I saw him in films like “The Last House On The Left” and “Wreckage” and wondered why he was playing such relatively minor roles, when he was clearly capable of so much more.  He treats whatever he’s in as if it were Academy Award-worthy, which elevates the material.  He’s great here, and has some of the most expressive eyes in movies.  They help to create a sense of empathy with the character, and you want to see him succeed, though I hope that he displays his talent in films more in line with his abilities.

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