Movie Review
Need for Speed
Need for Speed poster
By Lee Tistaert     Published March 16, 2014
US Release: March 14, 2014

Directed by: Scott Waugh
Starring: Aaron Paul

PG-13 for sequences of reckless street racing, disturbing crash scenes, nudity and crude language
Running Time: 130 minutes
Domestic Box Office: $42,649,000
102 of 111
Fans of {Aaron Paul} are going to be sorely disappointed at just how dumb, lame, and worthless this happens to be.
I guess Aaron Paul needed a good paycheck because thatís all I could think about while trying to endure the atrocity of Need for Speed. The budget for this movie was $66 million, which leads me to believe the actor earned some amount of millions or close to it, unless the action set pieces cost much more than they look in the movie. Fans of his from televisionís Breaking Bad are going to be sorely disappointed at just how dumb, lame, and worthless this action/thriller happens to be in execution. I guess they could or couldíve just read the bombardment of average-at-best reviews it has scored and knew that was coming anyway, and it seems quite a few people did because attendance isnít strong. Normally an action movie like this would be critic-proof at the box office as not even the harshest reviewers would scare off certain types of people, but Iím glad the movie isnít cashing in strongly.

Trailers made this flick seem like the Fast and the Furious franchise would make a decent comparison in quality, and the sad thing is it doesnít even rise up over Tokyo Drift (C-) badness which was the nail in the coffin for most of its diehard fans until director Justin Lin turned in Fast & Furious (C+) and wowed the masses back into theaters. The difference between the Fast and the Furious installments and Need for Speed is that the former was wall-to-wall action whereas this spends so much time trying to cover a story that itís just downright depressing that they think that couldíve worked. A movie like Need for Speed doesnít even need a solid story as long as the action and set pieces work on a certain level and this movie fails at all the parts. Itís not just that the story here sucks; itís that the action and set pieces also suck which sinks everything. Not only that but the trailer starts with Paulís character being released from prison as a bad boy, which you think is the storyís setup, but if you watch the movie youíll find out that it takes 45 minutes to reach that point. You see, heís an average auto-mechanic who likes to race cars, and after a bad accident involving a friend, he ends up in prison and then gets released back to society, and then continues this streak while the police try and stop him. The story involves Paulís character as a mechanic and his other auto-mechanic friends and their desire to race cars without being caught.

The Fast and the Furious movies arenít good movies if you ask me but they are at least relatively watchable because of the frenetic direction and the high-octane feeling behind many of the action scenes, even though the screenplay each time out was extremely cheesy and eye-rolling-inducing. Those movies arenít designed to please intellectual audiences but there is at least some sense of fun behind the vision. Need for Speed, on the other hand, is so boring as both a movie and in its action pieces and thereís no fun, and the director opts for the most unoriginal perspectives when showing these people racing. Itís not just that the setups are as conventional as it gets; the vision behind them does not draw you into it. Action movies are supposed to provide thrills and awe-inducing elements, and while Need for Speed may be loud at times, thatís all you notice about it because the sound is shaking. Street racing doesnít even cover the majority of the movie, but when it is the center, thereís no excitement. The screenplay the whole way through is terrible, but so is the direction which sucks.

The movie is also two hours and ten minutes long, which is horrendous considering the bare bones here. I was willing to write this movie off as just a terribly average movie (C-/C) if it had clocked in at just an hour and a half, but it goes on for so much longer than it should that itís angering to endure. You know the end result because of what has happened so far, so whatís the point of waiting to the end? Aaron Paul may be a familiar face if you watch a little television but the script doesnít allow him to shine and keep your interest, and all the other roles involved are garbage, so the running time is grueling. Vin Diesel and the late Paul Walker may have had mediocre roles in the Furious movies but they were at least more compelling than this and Diesel especially knew how to command the screen with power.

Aaron Paul may have been a fantastic actor on Breaking Bad but the material here makes him look bad. I only saw this movie because of his presence, and quickly into this experience I could already tell that it was the paycheck that got him here and not because the story had lured him in. Breaking Bad required vast depth and even though I have no factual evidence, Iím guessing he was paid scale for that project rather than millions because it was a huge passion project. Scale means being paid a fraction of a normal movie star salary because of a limited budget involved. I donít think he cashed in that great with Breaking Bad so the idea of cashing in with this sounded good to him. Paycheck decisions are usually obvious right from the get-go and thatís all I saw through Need for Speed. This is one of the worst movies of the year so far, and the sad part is, it had the potential to be just okay because of Paul.
Lee's Grade: D+
Ranked #102 of 111 between Into the Storm (#101) and Tammy (#103) for 2014 movies.
Lee's Overall Grading: 3025 graded movies
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'Need for Speed' Articles
  • Craig's review D+
    March 15, 2014    The movie lives up to the fast-car/slow-brain mantra but some of this stuff is so over the top that all you can do is laugh at it. -- Craig Younkin
  • Early Crowd Report Analysis
    March 14, 2014    Friday night shows are empty so far which feels like a bad sign but it could end up being a walk-up-and-buy movie in which its audience doesnít purchase in advance. -- Lee Tistaert
  • Box Office Outlook: Need for Speed
    March 13, 2014    I wouldnít be surprised if it lands a $9 million first day gross and ends up nearing a $30 million weekend. -- Lee Tistaert