Friday, 14 March 2014



Quite understandably, given the tragic death of Paul Walker last November, production of the seventh Fast And Furious film has been put on hold, leaving a huge gap in the schedules for another potential franchise of smashy-uppy car chases and gloriously insane action sequences. This videogame adaptation, frankly, isn't going to fill in the gap in the car porn genre market, and isn't fit to fill Fast And Furious 6's screenwash bottle. For all the nifty stunt work (real stunt men crashing real stunt cars, with sparing use of CGI), it is Fast Lite: even sillier, even less plausible, scoring a healthy 8.6 on the stupidometer.

The idiocies of Need For Speed start early when struggling grease monkey Tobey (Aaron Paul) accepts a job rebuilding a legendary Mustang from scratch for obvious scumbag Dino (Dominic Cooper). He's then swindled out of his percentage by Dino challenging him to a race and then cheating, leaving Tobey's brother dead and Tobey in jail. Two years later he's released with vengeance on his mind - and the best method is to violate his parole and drive from Manhattan to San Francisco in 45 hours as recklessly and dangerously as possible. This hardly seems necessary, since a glance at GoogleMaps suggests it's only a 43 hour trip without driving like a suicidal lunatic, but [1] Dino has put a bounty on Tobey's head and [2] Tobey is trying to attract the attention of barking mad Michael Keaton, organiser of the premier invitation-only illegal street race in the country, the ideal place to finally best Dino....

More implausibly, our hero is paired up with Imogen Poots as the Mustang owner's representative and who appears to be in a different film entirely, though she does get the inevitable scene where the dumb-looking blonde from England turns out to know a lot about cylinders and engine blocks and stuff, which is perhaps amusing if, like me, you can barely tell a carburettor from a distributor cap. Equally unfathomable is exactly how our hero has managed to secure that $3million car when he's just out of prison for vehicular manslaughter. Nor does it make any sense at all that Dino would not only keep his murder car from that fatal opening race, but keep the scanned invoices for its longterm storage on his unsecured, unprotected computer.

Early on, there's a scene at a drive-in cinema screening Bullitt, and the honest response is "You wish". The male leads are uninteresting, without a quarter of the charisma and presence of Steve McQueen (or indeed Vin Diesel and The Rock), the film only comes alive when it's flinging absurdly high-performance cars around like guided missiles, and even then the chase sequences themselves don't have the massive, mammoth impact that the crazier setpieces of the Fast And Furious films do. Perhaps it's unfair to keep comparing it to the Fasts, but the fact is they've set the genre bar very high and Need For Speed simply isn't up to the challenge.

Still, the physical stunt driving is impressive and, surprisingly for a film with a 130 minute running time, it doesn't drag too badly (which is not to suggest that it couldn't do with a severe trim anyway) and is never actively boring. That probably isn't enough to turn it into an annual franchise of idiots crashing sports cars into things, though. It's also yet another fake 3D post-conversion, but there is a 2D version released as well and obviously if you have to see it that's the one to go for. It's not a "must see", though, more an "everything else is full" or a "there's nothing else on": fun whenever tyres are screeching and million-dollar penis compensators are somersaulting through the air, but on the Fast and Furious scale this is Tokyo Drift: neither fast nor furious enough.


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