‘Need for Speed’ runs on fumes

By Nate Linhart

“Need for Speed,” released Friday, needed something more than fast-paced car scenes for two hours — perhaps a stronger plot. The ironically slow movie was spawned from the Need for Speed video game franchise.

Aaron Paul, co-star of “Breaking Bad,” makes his first starring film appearance since the show’s finale in “Need for Speed.” Paul plays Tobey Marshall, a street racer who is sent to prison for attempting to kill his partner.

Immediately after being released, Marshall seeks revenge on opposing racer Dino Brewster, played by Dominic Cooper. Marshall makes his way to California to take on Brewster for one final race and to prove his innocence.

“Need for Speed’s” biggest road bump was its blunt predictability. This movie doesn’t differentiate itself from any other typical racing movie, like those of the street-racing Fast & Furious series.

The writer’s overuse of clichés made “Need for Speed’s” plot redundant and hard to watch. The first major race featured a rush to beat a train, avoiding oncoming traffic and a helicopter, just like in “The Fast and the Furious” when Vin Diesel’s character, Dominic Toretto, and Paul Walker’s Brian O’Conner race against a train and manage to beat it at the last second. With a not-so-surprising neck-and-neck finish, viewers can stay in cruise control as they easily call out what will happen throughout the film.

The film’s producers put in elements that paid homage to the Need for Speed video game series: police chasing drivers, helicopters flying overhead and cars soaring off ramps. But, come on, I’ve seen these scenes in so many other car chase films.

Paul’s acting won’t win any awards. At times, the movie flashes with small signs of his talent, but the film isn’t helping his career. Paul’s fake crying and dramatic scenes may have worked well in “Breaking Bad,” but they were not as believable in “Need for Speed.”

In addition to Paul’s fake crying, I found myself fake laughing at rapper Kid Cudi’s jokes. Perhaps Kid Cudi should stick to rapping because his jokes were bland. The comedy attempts were dreadful and certainly my least favorite aspect of this film.

Michael Keaton has a strong appearance as a radio show host named DJ Monarch. The host’s show is about racing and his character is wildly enthusiastic about it. Monarch was the only unique character and had an energy about him the others lacked. I’ve always been fond of Keaton, and he didn’t let me down in this minor role.

For those seeking a movie just to look at pretty cars, roaring engines and lengthy races, check out “Need for Speed.” For everyone else, this movie adds nothing to the action-racing genre.