Aaron Paul (Breaking Bad) stars as Tobey Marshall, a young street racer struggling to hold on to his father's body shop in the small town of Mt. Kisco, NY. He and his crew street race to make extra money here and there, but it's just not cutting it. Anita (Dakota Johnson), the small-town girl he was in love with and sister to Pete, the youngest of his crew, moved to the big city with Dino Brewster (Dominic Cooper), Tobey's chief rival and when the pair come back to town, Tobey and crew get the opportunity of a lifetime - to finish building a classic Shelby Mustang thought to be a myth. In doing so, he impresses the car's buyer, but more importantly, the buyer's money handler, Julia (Imogen Poots). However, in tangling with Dino, he and young Pete agree to race against Dino for an all-or-nothing bet for the profits from the Mustang. Tragedy strikes because Dino plays dirty and Tobey finds himself in jail.
Once released from jail, all Tobey can think of is revenge against Dino and the best way is to get invited to a super exclusive race hosted by Monarch (Michael Keaton), a once famous driver who is now an eccentric recluse. Dino always wins the race, but if Tobey can beat him, it may even the score a bit. He enlists Julia and, more importantly, the magical Mustang he helped finish building in the hopes of impressing Monarch and getting an invite to the race. It also means putting his old crew back together, which won't be an easy task as they have all gone their separate ways. Dino doesn't want the competition and so he pulls out all the stops, even putting a bounty on Tobey so he can't make it to the starting line, since Tobey knows the truth that could destroy Dino and his entire life. Tobey and Julia's cross-country race against time, the police from several states, and a passel of bounty hunters is a thrill ride indeed.
Need for Speed is exactly what I thought it would be, a thrilling, high-speed, car chase action flick. I was glad they didn't make it feel as though it was simply a videogame branded film, but instead it felt more like a car action movie. Viewers unfamiliar with the videogame can simply enjoy it as a car chase movie, but those familiar with the game will see how the movie incorporates the strange world of high tech, extravagantly rich car enthusiasts and their private, illegal underground street races as envisioned by the recent games in the Need for Speed series. There's even some scenes where you can see the game's U.I. and the wisecracking eye-in-the-sky as well as the in-car video screen communication are ripped straight from the game, which is cool for fans of the game series.
The cast worked really well together and the chase scenes were exhilarating. Benny AKA Maverick (Scott Mescudi) acted as their bird's eye view while flying a helicopter and he added a tremendous amount of comic relief to the movie. I actually enjoyed the film more than I thought I would, because you just never know what to expect from a "videogame movie" and Need for Speed exceeded my expectations by how enjoyable it was.
Special features are plentiful and include featurettes on the stunts themselves, the family of stunt actors who worked with the director, the music and sound effects of the film, the caravan of crew members who made the film happen, plus outtakes, deleted scenes and audio commentary from Director Scott Waugh and Actor Aaron Paul. While gearheads will enjoy the special features more than the average viewer, I especially enjoyed watching how pretty much all of the stunts and scenes were done with practicals and not CG. This is pretty damned impressive, especially when you see some of the scenes in the film. Blu-ray high def also really made the cross-country landscapes and gorgeous racing machines pop beautifully.
If you like car chase action movies, check out Need for Speed. It's a fun movie where you can just kick back and enjoy the chaos on the screen. If you are a fan of the game series, you'll enjoy it even more. You get the exhilaration of flying down the road while appreciating it from your own couch.