The ‘Need for Speed’ becomes a desperate performance

Photo by Frederick Dennstedt, via flickr

Rafael Abreu/Staff Writer 

Based off the successful Electronic Arts video game series, “Need For Speed” tells the story of one man’s quest for revenge and justice by way of racing fast cars and risking incarceration again. The story of Tobey (Aaron Paul) competing in a race against Don (Dominic Cooper), with the help of his odd ball crew, is probably the least interesting and important part about this motion picture. It’s the races, the cinematography, the laughable acting, and Arron Paul’s facial expressions that make this film so enjoyable.

With the power of practical effects, “Need For Speed” puts us in the thick of action, showcasing fast cars going at fast speeds across all roads. The races themselves are exciting to watch, showing us every turn and from all possible angles. The direction during these scenes is great, as we are always aware of what is going on, since the camera stays well put and tracks everything well.

A recent trend among filmmakers is to shake the camera a lot while doing everything up-close, something “Need For Speed” thankfully avoids. Whenever a vehicle is in some way hit or destroyed, we see exactly what’s happening, whether from a wide angle or a camera on the car itself, making each one of these scenes a highlight.

There’s a strong sense of speed that one can sense when put into the driver’s seat. We feel the exhilaration as Tobey outruns police, races against other drivers, or has to fight off bounty hunters. The use of these practical effects heightens everything to a more exciting level; we can visibly take note of actual cars on actual streets taking actual damage or making actual turns. There is much emphasis on the cars themselves, from a modified Ford Mustang to imported Koenigsegg Ageras; for fans of the automobile, there is much to admire.

However, those aren’t the only things to admire in this film. Among all the car chases and crashes, there is also the awkward acting, terrible dialogue, and Aaron Paul’s facial expressions.

Tobey’s facial expressions are absolutely hilarious, whether he’s shocked, confused, or angry, there isn’t a single expression of his that doesn’t come off as over-the-top; it feels as though he had the right expressions but for the wrong moments. Harrison Gilbertson, who plays Tobey’s younger brother Pete, is ridiculous all by himself, saying all the wrong things in the most awkward ways possible. What really makes Pete a top-notch goof is Tobey’s reactions to some of the things he says, mainly by way of putting his head down in embarrassment.

Tobey is very fond of letting his anger get to him and allowing his emotions to decide his actions. Dino Brewster (Dominic Cooper), Tobey’s ultimate rival, is the complete opposite: he’s cool, calm, wears dark colors, and more importantly, appears to be apathetic and unimpressed by absolutely everything.

From the moment he shows up on screen to critical moments near the end of the film, Dino doesn’t seem to care one bit about anything that’s happening. However, this only makes his character more enjoyable, since he too comes off as badly directed, and while he has less awkward dialogue than most of the cast, his uncaring demeanor can come off as riotously hysterical, depending on the scene.

“Need For Speed” is a very enjoyable movie, featuring exciting car races, chases, and stunts, all showcased with very nice cinematography. On the other end of things, “Need For Speed” is badly written, with awkward dialogue which gives way to awkward performances, a plot that is cliché to the bone, and facial expressions that are always funny to laugh at. It should be stated, though, that all of this good and bad is what makes “Need For Speed” the enjoyable ride that it is. Just be sure to watch it with friends. 

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