Written by / 3/14/2014 / No comments / , , ,

AARON PAUL STARRING IN NEED FOR SPEED

year: 2014 rating: **
Fresh from TV’s BREAKING BAD, which recently ran its course, Aaron Paul not only has a starring movie role but gets the Indiana Jones treatment: the camera pans up to his back as he turns around slowly, and the character, Tobey Marshall, is unveiled in cinematic glory...

What follows is a noisy street race or two, and in-between we meet Tobey’s fellow mechanics, all with their own distinctive personalities (yet seeming quite similar): one tries hard to be funny and quirky, another is mellow and quiet, there’s a young friendly sort… And last but not least, up in the air is a cocky helicopter pilot who calls the shots… allowing, as the movie progresses, Tobey to escape the police: And to think Burt Reynold’s Bandit had only a truck driver helping out.

Times have changed in fast car cinema: Gone are the days of Reynolds and Steve McQueen flicks, thanks (or no thanks) to the glossy FAST AND FURIOUS franchise, although we do get shots of BULLITT playing at a drive-in theater...

And in a more subliminal fashion, NEED FOR SPEED goes retro with a plot reminiscent of the cult classic VANISHING POINT, where Barry Newman has to travel cross country to be in San Francisco in a certain amount of time, backed by a rebellious disc jockey who has morphed into Michael Keaton as a pirate Internet host making a viral folk hero out of Tobey, zipping from New York to Frisco in order to race the sneering villain, who caused an untimely death: Because of this street race tragedy, Tobey was imprisoned for two years and now ardently seeks good old fashion revenge.

The best scenes not only involve car chases but at one point, our tomboy ingénue and shotgun rider, Julia, tautly escapes from a cop on foot – but everything eventually leads back to that supped up, million dollar vehicle. With so much time spent crossing America, the climactic race, taken way too seriously by Keaton’s Roman Chorus, not only means very little but feels pretentiously tacked-on compared to the country spanning mainline.

Which is part of the film’s overall problem: with brooding self indulgence invested in our intrepid hero, played a bit too cool and smug by Aaron Paul… who has little motivation to stretch beyond a permanent scowl and hissing voice… the story winds up needing more speed and less melodrama.
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