Need For Speed Blu-ray Review
Although named after a video game, the truth is that NEED FOR SPEED could have been called anything. I’m not sure what, if any, relation it has to the video game, other than featuring a bunch of fancy cars you probably haven’t heard of. The name, I presume, is to get people to see the movie, but it tends to overshadow the fact that NEED FOR SPEED is actually a fun racing movie that doesn’t need a video game title to be enjoyable.
Tobey (Aaron Paul) is a small town race car driver still looking for his big break and in the meantime, runs a small business restoring cars. Dino (Dominic Cooper) is a former professional race car driver that returns to his small home town to enlist the help of Tobey to finish building up a high value Mustang. Tobey and Dino have a rivalry and dislike for each other that propels the movie forward and that rivalry boils over when they decide to race and Dino kills one of Tobey’s friends. Tobey goes to prison for it, only to return a few years later, hell bent on racing Dino again in an illegal race called The DeLeon. To do that, he must race his way across the country with Julia (Imogen Poots), who’s there to watch over the car her employer has loaned Tobey.
The plot works to move the film along. It isn’t anything entirely original since we’ve seen countless movies where the innocent man gets out of prison, intent on revenge. But when you look at movies like NEED FOR SPEED or any of the FAST AND FURIOUS films, the point is to get the characters in fast cars and racing in a somewhat plausible (I use that term loosely) manner. NEED FOR SPEED works as the audience isn’t asked to buy into an alternate reality too often and I actually found myself surprised by the “reality” (again, loose term) of the film as there wasn’t anything that made me shake my head in disbelief. To some degree, I bought into the idea that almost everything could have happened and the realistic feel of the film might be one of its strongest points.
But let’s be honest; you don’t pick up a film like NEED FOR SPEED to analyze the plot or dissect the believability, you pick it up to watch some great racing. In that regard, the film succeeds, probably more than any racing film in the last several years. Each race was exciting, intense and even though the action scenes were predictable, I thoroughly enjoyed watching them play out. The action is helped greatly by Aaron Paul and Dominic Cooper, who are efficient enough to keep the audience interested. Paul is basically playing a non-high version of his Jesse Pinkman character, but it works for him and the film. Cooper is fine as the slimy Dino, being just evil enough to make you hate him, but not so much that it’s comical. Special notice has to be given to Michael Keaton, who plays the guy who is sponsoring the race and runs an underground podcast and routinely gives updates on Tobey’s progress. Keaton added some needed validity to the film and stole the show when he was on camera.
I entered NEED FOR SPEED with zero expectations and if anything, I was prepared to dislike the film. But I found myself pleasantly surprised with how much I enjoyed it. It has everything you’d want in a racing movie; fancy cars, exciting races and characters you can root for. It will undoubtedly be compared to the FAST AND FURIOUS movies and even though it doesn’t have Vin Diesel going for it, I felt it stacked up pretty favorably to the long running franchise.
NEED FOR SPEED BLU-RAY REVIEW
Video: NEED FOR SPEED has a Michael Bay-ish film quality to it, which director Scott Waugh might have picked up when he did stunts on Bay’s BAD BOYS II. I liked the style and it looked gorgeous on Blu-ray.
Audio: The audio was just as impressive.
Commentary with Scott Waugh and Aaron Paul: Waugh and Paul combine for a decent, if not superficial commentary track. Waugh provides the most information and seems pretty proud of his film and his excitement shines through. Paul offers up some fun facts about the cast and how much they enjoyed making the film.
Capturing Speed: Making an Authentic Car Movie (9:59): Like I noted in the review, “authentic” is used very loosely here, but this featurette takes a look at how they filmed some of the sequences to make them more real.
Ties that Bind (12:01): Waugh talks about his family of stuntmen, as well as his own work as a stuntman and how he used his family and his experiences to make the film.
The Circus is in Town (10:57): Waugh discusses the humor of travelling around the globe with several expensive race cars. This isn’t so much a featurette as much as it is a series of photos with Waugh’s commentary.
Monarch and Maverick Outtakes (2:01): This series of outtakes focuses on Scott Mescudi and Michael Keaton, who are clearly the funniest members of the cast.
Deleted Scenes (5:03): There are four total scenes, all of which are pretty short and forgettable.
The Sound of Need For Speed (9:02): I found this to be the most interesting since isolating specific car sounds, in the middle of so many other sounds, is a challenging task. This featurette focuses on their challenges and how they overcame them.
B-Camera Crash Compilation: I’m not great at finding Easter eggs, but I’m told this is hidden somewhere on the disc.