Need for Speed
by George Wolf
I never watched Breaking Bad, but I believe you when you say it is awesome, and that Aaron Paul is awesome as Jesse. I don’t doubt it for one second. Really.
But trust me, Need for Speed isn’t Breaking Bad, it’s just bad.
Paul moves on from Jesse to star as Tobey Marshall, a badass gearhead/street racer who was framed for murder by an old adversary. After serving a prison stint, Tobey rejoins his old garage crew to enter a legendary cross-country race, and hatch a plan that will bring both sweet victory, and sweet revenge.
Even for a film based on a video game, Need for Speed is achingly shallow. Director Scott Waugh‘s biggest error is to give the film the same overly dramatic, utterly heroic tone he brought to Act of Valor. It made sense on Valor, as Waugh was directing active-duty Navy SEALS who had trouble acting, but at least deserved the treatment.
Here, though, the approach is so over-the-top it results in a cornball mess of high octane ridiculousness. Though it’s hard to tell from the squeaky-clean garages, neatly pressed clothes and perfect fingernails, these are street racers, not world-savers. Lighten up already.
George Gatins’s sophomoric and painfully obvious screenplay doesn’t help, bursting as it is with groan-inducing dialog and plotting fit for coma patients.
I suppose there is something here if you like to see cars going fast, but even those sequences are bland, especially after Waugh makes the mistake of including a snippet from Bullitt, one of the greatest car movies ever made. Honestly, you can find more auto-excitica (you’re welcome) in The Town or one of those Jeff Gordon-in-disguise Pepsi commercials.
Even the music is awful, alternating between melodramatic crescendos and tone-deaf remakes of rock classics.
A sarcastic, tongue-in-cheek vibe would have worked wonders on Need for Speed. As it stands, it can’t outrun the stupid, no matter how fast it goes.