In 1994, Pioneer Productions as well as Electronic Arts developed a game called Road and Track Presents: The Need for Speed. The premise of the game involved cars racing against each other in attempts to finish first. Since that time, developers have released 19 titles, each one bigger and better than its predecessor. Exactly 20 years later, the game everyone has grown to love has moved from the game system to the big screen. But will watching be just as good as playing?
Need for Speed, directed by Scott Waugh, follows a former race car driver by the name of Tobey Marshall (Aaron Paul), who along with a few close personal friends, races and tunes cars while trying to make ends meet. After winning a race one night, he finds out that a former rival of his, Dino Brewster (Dominic Cooper) has come to town looking for him and his crew to help finish a Shelby Mustang that Carroll Shelby had started working on before his death. If agreed, Tobey as well as his crew would get 25 percent of the profit made by the finished product. After everything is set and completed, Dino decides to make a wager with Tobey for his cut. So the two of them as well as Tobey’s partner Little Pete, race across the interstate, winner taking all. Afraid of losing, Dino lightly taps Little Pete’s car sending it spiraling in the air off a bridge as it bursts into flames. Tobey stops and drives back to bare-witness to the madness. When police show up, Dino is nowhere to be found, and Tobey is charged with involuntary manslaughter. After serving two years in jail, Tobey is released, and must now retaliate in the race of all races for millions of dollars as well as avenging the death of his beloved partner.
From start to finish, the film is an all out rush. The idea of getting behind a wheel and breaking all the rules is something we all think about. Of course none of us actually do it. The overall thought process is mind-boggling. We want to feel as if we are sitting in that exact driver seat. The camera is placed so well in every shot, it’s almost as if we are watching an episode of Cops, even if the person behind the wheel is considered a non-criminal. Flying through the air, driving alongside a mountain and even being carried by a military helicopter is all the adrenaline anyone would need. That and maybe a sexy goddess behind the wheel, but let’s not spoil everything.
But like every racing film, not a lot happens. We understand that the premise is to run from the cops and beat whoever is in front you. The problem is, we need to have something that breaks us from the constant pace. Although this movie may be an exception, because it is solely based on racing, we like a spread of ideas that progress the storyline to its conclusion. The Fast and Furious franchise beats them by a mile here, but Need for Speed is more about the art of driving. Seeing a popular game come to life beats the actual playing any day.