A film based on a leading video game…that might be all you need to know about Need For Speed. Sadly this film doesn’t rise much higher than those brief videos that often precede play.
Need For Speed is an Electronic Arts title that started its engines in 1994 on the PlayStation 1. Since then it’s grown into a franchise that has embraced 20 titles across almost every platform imaginable. The central factors are superfast, customizable cars that make a game of outmaneuvering not only other racers but the poor schmucks charged with policing the streets. This format has made Need For Speed the most successful car game franchise of all time and led to the sale of more than 140 million copies worldwide. But what is pixilated playtime on the small screen becomes disturbing when life-sized cars are involved.
Need For Speed stars Aaron Paul, better known as Jesse Pinkman from the hit Breaking Bad television series. This time around he’s Tobey Marshall, a street racer who owns a precariously mortgaged garage. In order to save the shop he agrees to complete a specialty Ford Mustang for his former racing rival Dino (Dominic Cooper). Dino dares Tobey to race for the profits from the car’s sale and in the process kills Tobey’s stand-in kid brother. Tobey is paralysed with grief and ends up being arrested while Dino makes his getaway. Our hero can’t prove Dino was responsible so he goes to prison for two years on a street racing charge. Of course when he emerges the only thing on Tobey’s mind is finding Dino and exacting revenge…by driving across country and running the gauntlet of nine kinds of law enforcement so he can enter a multimillion dollar car race which will definitively prove both his innocence and Dino’s guilt…you reckon’?
Need For Speed relies on a plot so full of holes it makes Swiss cheese look substantial. The cars may hum but the characters are clunkers with stuttering dialogue. But what should we really expect from a framework put together to showcase four-wheeled eye candy and improbable stunts? Maybe a tad more responsibility in an age where the combination of young men and high speed chases is disturbingly fatal. A 22-year US study into fatal pursuits found:
“Males accounted for 82% of all fatalities, 93% of driver fatalities in the chased vehicle and that the median age of all deaths was 24 years.”
Not that you’d know that from watching Need For Speed. A short catalogue of the hilarious and exciting things it suggest you can do with an automobile include:
– Racing the wrong way down one-way roads
– Switching drivers without stopping
– Hanging out windows at high speed
– Car surfing the roof
– Playing ‘chicken’ with heavy vehicles
– Train dodging – the closer the better
– Jumping over double lanes of traffic – with enough speed, of course!
Ludicrous, ridiculous…hardly worth taking seriously? Sure, a review like mine isn’t going to stop people from driving badly, or even rev-heads lining up for tickets. But I labour the point because the Bible has serious things to say about those who remain silent in the face of another person’s foolishness. And God reserves the greatest warning for those who fail to warn people He will hold them accountable:
“When I say to the wicked, ‘You wicked person, you will surely die,’ and you do not speak out to dissuade them from their ways, that wicked person will die for their sin, and I will hold you accountable for their blood.”
But it’s not only reviewers who have to consider their accountability. Dreamworks has to shoulder its share of responsibility for designing such a hazardous vehicle; the same goes for distributor Disney who’s along for the ride. And that also includes parents who hand over the money to pay for tickets. We’re all responsible for the foolishness we fuel.
Release Date: March 13