Need for Speed (2 stars)

Need for Speed

Breaking Bad's Aaron Paul stars in a WASPy, derisory Fast & Furious wannabe

On the surface, Need for Speed should purr. A popular video game series, the star of Breaking Bad and a former stuntman directing, this tale of race car rivalries has all it takes to eat into the Fast & The Furious audience. But a quick peak under the bonnet reveals otherwise. Cheesy dialogue and predictable plotting make for a derisory experience that even adolescent males – the film’s target audience – may spurn.

If the F&F franchise felt tuned in to a multicultural, working class fanbase, Need for Speed is like the WASP equivalent, with its three main protagonists looking like they’ve barely changed a tyre between them. Aaron Paul is Tobey Marshall, a mechanic and street racer who teams up with Imogen Poots’ savvy English lass Julia to take on old rival, Dino Alonzo (Dominic Cooper) – dressed all in black, in case we didn’t realise he’s the villain.

The bulk of the film sees Tobey set out to beat Dino in a cross-country race – organised by a mysterious race-fan known only as The Monarch (Michael Keaton). Lacking the humour of The Cannonball Run or the urban cool of the F&F films, Need for Speed largely relies on some spectacular 3D stunts to keep you interested – some good, some outrageous, some just plain dull.

The characterisation, however, is more than rusty. So good as Jesse in Breaking Bad, Paul has no chance to develop Tobey in the same way; Poots and Cooper, meanwhile, seem totally out of place. But what really grates is a plot shorn of any logic or surprise. Why, for example, would Julia’s boss let her and Tobey race the silver Mustang he paid a whopping $2.7 million for? It makes no sense – something Need for Speed forgets in the rush to hit 100mph.

Need for Speed Official Trailer (HD) Aaron Paul

Need for Speed

  • 2 stars
  • 2014
  • US
  • 2h 10min
  • 12A
  • Directed by: Scott Waugh
  • Cast: Aaron Paul, Dominic Cooper, Imogen Poots, Ramón Rodríguez, Michael Keaton
  • UK release: 12 March 2014

Fresh from prison, a street racer who was framed by a wealthy business associate joins a cross country race with revenge in mind. His ex-partner, learning of the plan, places a massive bounty on his head as the race begins. Actioner based on the 20-strong video game series.