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‘Need for Speed’ a Second-Rate Portrait of Older Movies

By TOM BASHAM
Movie Critic
March 17, 2014 11:30 am

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“Need for Speed”–  Rated PG-13 — 1 of 5 stars

I did not have a need to see “Need For Speed,” but I deviated from my route long enough for this derivative Aaron Paul vehicle. I really wish there were a nice Budapest Hotel in my area.

I thought it was some kind of omen when the late Paul Walker (“The Fast & Furious”) said in a trailer before the movie, “This is a bad idea.” Really Paul?

Toby Marshall (Aaron Paul from “Breaking Bad”) has to take over his dad’s speed-racing mechanic shop when he dies. Toby and his buddies try to keep the shop going, but they are about to lose it to the bank. Just then, his old high school nemesis Dino (Dominic Cooper from “Reasonable Doubt”) comes to the rescue. He tells Toby, “Forget about the past, it’s history” and asks him to build a car for him. With dialogue like that I knew I was in for a long ride.

There are another four or five plot points you see coming in your rear view mirror that set these two up for an epic showdown.

They started this movie in the shadow of Steve McQueen in “Bullet” on a drive-in theater screen as a way of saying, that was a cool movie and so is this. They had to make it across the country in two days, and just when you start thinking of “Smokey and the Bandit,” they zip by a guy in a black Trans Am. I wanted to stand up and ask, “Did you see that?” I don’t think you can all it an homage to these kind of movies when it references a different one every 15 minutes.

They dumped a ton of money into this movie, but they keep reminding you how expensive these cars are, and that is why we should care when these cars are crashed all over the country/screen. As far as caring for the people on the screen, they cover that in one line: “Do it for Pete.”

Please don’t misunderstand; this is no “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang” – well maybe the first word there. At least they have cute names for each other, like Toby in the Mustang is called “Beauty” and his boys who follow in the big service truck are called “Beast.” And their other friend Benny (Scott Mescudi from “Goodbye World”), who flies a plane to help guide them, says, “Just call me Maverick.” These are not my jokes, as these were in the movie and that makes them a joke on me.

I am a fan of Aaron Paul, but he is not ready to carry a movie like this. Even if the script were not the schematic of a Greek tragedy shoehorned into a video game movie.

Oh, and I forgot to mention there were two girls in the movie, and they served about as much use as an air foil on a 1972 Ford Pinto. I do have to retract a statement made in an earlier review about Michael Keaton – this is his worst movie. When he actually said, at the most dramatic moment, “This ain’t just about racing,” I thought it was one of his third generation clones from “Multiplicity.”

If you like pretty cars that go fast, see the Furious movie. This one is a second rate portrait of the car movies I grew up with like “The Getaway” and “Dirty Mary and Crazy Larry.” I can only give this movie 1 star out of 5 for thinking that special effects are all you need to make a great car movie. Make a great movie first, and then maybe I will get in my car and come see it.

Tom Basham is an indie filmmaker

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