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'Need for Speed' has some cool racing scenes but that's about it

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Need for Speed

Rating:
Star2
Star
Star
Star
Star

Release date: March 14, 2014

Directed by: Scott Waugh

Written by: George Gatins

Starring: Aaron Paul, Dominic Cooper, Imogen Poots, and Michael Keaton

Official website: Facebook.com/NeedForSpeed

"Need for Speed" may be based on a video game, but the DNA of this street racing actioneer can be traced to the six movies in the "Fast and Furious" franchise. That's not a bad thing, but it's not exactly a good thing either.

Not that the plot really matters, but Aaron Paul plays Tobey Marshall, a mechanic and race car driver some say is the best in the game. Down on his luck, Tobey gets involved with a playboy pro driver, Dino Brewster (Dominic Cooper) who wants Tobey to help build the mythical car that John Shelby was building when he died.

Of course, the partnership goes bad, which leads to a street racing accident, and Tobey takes the rap, ending up in jail. Upon his release, he wants revenge and figures the only way to get his life back, and avenge his friend is to get into a super secret, unsanctioned race in California, which is run by an underground promoter that appears via his "podcast", a character that would be unbelievably annoying if it wasn't being played by Michael Keaton.

Really though this movie is all about the racing. Most of the dialogue and "plot development" is really just filler in between car racing spectacles -- and they are fun to watch. But fast cars only go so far. Thankfully the cast is filled with entertaining actors, even if some don't quite fit the profiles of the characters they are playing.

Aaron Paul was terrific on "Breaking Bad", he just seems like an odd casting for the hero of this flick. Be that as it may, he nearly salvages the one-dimensional cliched character he's playing. The same can be said for Dominic Cooper as the film's villain, who is almost -- almost -- able to make him somewhat sympathetic, and Imogen Poots, as a liaison for a car collector who invests in Tobey's revenge plan.

The "Fast and Furious" franchise has set the bar for ridiculous car racing action sequences and director Scott Waugh tries his damnedest to elevate movie racing and crashing to a new level of art. Waugh's resume is filled with a slew of impressive credits doing stunts and while he's relatively new to the director's chair, his taste for real life car crashes and old fashioned stunts is on full display here.

"Need for Speed" takes itself a little too seriously at times and at two hours and ten minutes is about a half hour too long. Most of it is ridiculous and little of it makes and real logical sense. Some of the plot devices are really bad. But the car races are a lot of fun. And for some, it just might be enough. After all, movies don't always have to be a think piece, right?

Plus, if you use a little bit of imagination, you can just pretend this is the furthering adventures of Jessie Pinkman.

Running time: 2 hours 10 mins

Rating: Rated PG-13 for sequences of reckless street racing, disturbing crash scenes, nudity and crude language

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