Need for Speed

Tonight I had the good fortune of having procured some free tickets to a special pre-screening of the upcoming Aaron Paul movie “Need for Speed.” As the title would suggest the movie is an adaptation of the long running video games franchise about street racing. First let me say this: “Need for a speed” is probably as good a movie is one could possibly get from an adaption of a video game where people race cars through populated areas. It actually has a story. It’s an incredibly cliched story but it’s there, it exists. There was also a surprising amount of comic relief which I personally found a bit jarring and downright bizarre and borderline stupid at times, however the audience the I saw it with seemed to enjoy so I’ll chalk it up to a matter of taste. That’s the “bad.” Those are the things that left me a bit a cold at certain points during the movie, and while they may seem like some pretty fundamental problems, I can’t honestly say that I didn’t like this movie. I’m not sure if it’s a good movie yet, as my brain is still gestating, but I can say that there was quite a bit to this movie that I really liked. The acting is fantastic. Aaron Paul, Imogen Poots, Dominic Cooper and Michael Keaton are all great. Aaron Paul makes for a charismatic enough lead with a great intensity that Breaking Bad fans will recognize. Imogen Poots makes a fun, likable female lead (on top of being a well written character). As usual Michael Keaton was fantastic as usual (seriously man, you’re still the best Batman, you deserve so much better than what you’ve gotten). Who really impressed me was Dominic Cooper. He brings subtlety and a surprising depth to an otherwise two dimensional villain. I won’t spoil the exact circumstances under which it occurs, but there is a point early on in the movie where he cements himself as the despicable antagonist of the movie. What really struck me was a small moment where you can visibly see the thought process going on in the characters head as he makes the decision (perhaps reluctantly) that puts him in this role, which just made for a compelling performance for an otherwise standard villain without being hammy. The cinematography during the racing scens is thrilling and does a good job of not becoming repetitive. I especially enjoyed the use of long takes throughout, making the movie very evocative of the 70′s muscle car movies it was trying to emulate (there’s also no CG used in huge stunt work is both impressive and refreshing). I’m trying to keep this review relatively spoiler free because the movie isn’t due for another month so I’ll just leave it at this: whatever enjoyment is lost by the clichéd story and dopey humor will be regained by the movie’s great performances/character, dynamic camera work and a very well written third act that you’ll just have to watch.

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