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Movie Review: 'Need for Speed' (2014) Starring Aaron Paul

Perhaps it’s expected that the true stars of “Need for Speed” are the exotic luxury cars and the daredevil racing sequences, but when the spaces in between are stuffed with paper-thin characters, alarmingly awkward dialogue, and a story that wouldn’t suffice an optional side mission in a “Grand Theft Auto” video game, the fun all but vanishes. If the uninspired foundation wasn’t bad enough, many of the central characters’ motivations are either contradicted or never explained, and the climactic final competition makes little impact and even less sense. Race organizer and sky-high partisan Monarch (overenthusiastically played by Michael Keaton) comments anxiously about “the race before the race.” But with such a lack of originality and substance, that’s one race too many.

When mechanic and madcap motorist Tobey Marshall (Aaron Paul) is approached by his old rival Dino Brewster (Dominic Cooper) for a business proposition, he knows it’s bad news. But faced with debt and the prospect of losing his shop, he unhesitatingly accepts. When Dino kills Tobey’s protégé Little Pete (Harrison Gilbertson) in a contest gone wrong, Tobey takes the fall, resulting in a two-year prison sentence. Upon his release, the embittered driver determines to get revenge by besting Dino in the high-profile DeLeon, an exclusive street race sponsored by radio host Monarch, where the winner takes all – and the loser might not escape with his life.

Extremely unintelligent activities are ventured by exasperatingly idiotic personas - and this includes every single character. The heroes that viewers are supposed to root for, the villains they’re intended to despise, and even the comic relief parts designed to be laughed at are not exempt. Amusing humor, the creation of sympathy, believable bonding, and merely relating to these roles are impossible concepts, attributable to the most disgustingly pathetic script. It seems that an indescribable amount of effort went into crafting a noticeably overlong plot and character development that is borderline unwatchable in its grating, cardboard blandness and uncreative stereotypes.

And then there’s the dialogue. Young adults just don’t converse like this and the blend of repartees is dreadful. The exchanges are so appallingly fake that they distract from every action sequence - to the point that viewers won’t be able to enjoy the visual splendor of careening and exploding Lamborghinis, Bugattis, McLarens, Mustangs, Saleens, and Koenigseggs (which are all fascinatingly striking rides).

The template appears to be “Fast and the Furious” dumbed down even further (if that’s possible) for more juvenile audiences itching to watch fast cars, incorrigible recklessness, and detonative stunts. Arguably, there exists the slightest modicum more focus on realism with the car chases. But with all of the jail time served and interference by police, the resulting product is more “Grand Theft Auto” than “Need for Speed.” The plot hints at weak revenge through an embellished, high-stakes, illegal, super secret street race that laughably boasts a mere $7 million potential pot (the winner takes every competitor’s vehicle), which dwindles by the minute as participant’s wreck their multi-million-dollar entries. After risking life, limb, reputation, and legal consequences, the ultimate prize reveals absolutely no money to be had. Without a doubt, “Need for Speed” is one of the worst movies ever made.

- The Massie Twins (GoneWithTheTwins.com)