Brooding dude Tobey Marshall (Aaron Paul) is struggling to keep his now dead dad’s garage afloat the only way he knows how. Fixing cars? Nah: illegal street racing, complete with buddy Benny (Scott “Kid Cudi” Mescudi) flying overhead making sure the roads are clear. Then former local turned big-time racer who no one respects (because he’s secretly evil and not as good as Tobey and also stole Tobey’s girl) Dino Brewster (Dominic Cooper) shows up. Deals are made, races are run, you think the film’s getting started but it’s really all backstory because the real story doesn’t start until Tobey gets out of jail after two years – oh yeah, a friend of his died in an illegal street race and Brewster ran off while Tobey took the fall – and is offered a hotted-up car by Julia (Imogen Poots) to compete in an illegal but lucrative street race run by reclusive race fan The Monarch (Michael Keaton). One problem: they’re on the east coast, the race is in California and it’s two days away. Looks like they’ve got a… Need for Speed. Unfortunately, what they don’t have is a decent script. Or interesting characters. Or a story that makes much sense. Or car chases that get much beyond “yeah, that was okay, I guess”.
There’s certainly a lot of stuff going on here: cross-country driving, racing on the California coast, off-road racing, a whole bunch of different super-fast cars, police chases, cars jumping over highways, a body count that gradually starts to become disturbing as everyone becomes a mass murderer, cars being plucked off a cliff top by a helicopter… just another day at the (illegal street) races really. And the film certainly tries to sell the character stuff, but it all comes off as either lame posing or … no, it’s mostly just lame posing. Let’s not even mention Keaton’s frankly embarrassing turn as a hype man for a race so secret no one actually gets to see it.
Basically, everything here that isn’t footage of a car driving very fast is pointless at best and boring at worst; and even some of the car footage is pretty bad. You don’t need this film, and you should speed away from it.
Written by Anthony Morris