Monday, 22 September 2014

Need for Speed

Lowdown: The path for redemption and revenge passes through plenty of public road street races.
Walter White is not the only memorable Breaking Bad character. Alongside Walter there was always Jesse Pinkman, the Funyuns munching character portrayed by Aaron Paul. I was left wondering where to from here for Paul, looking forward to the next adventures from this fine good looking actor. Alas, after watching what he was up to in Need for Speed, I sure hope Paul chucks a quick u-ey and considers playing in stuff that’s actually good. Again, like he did for five excellent seasons.
The concept of Need for Speed is based on the famous video games franchise from Electronic Arts. Paul plays Tobey, the boss of a car mechanics shop specialising in turning any lemon into a Formula 1 grade car. In his spare time, and for the extra cash, Tobey does street racing: races where a group uses public roads in the company of the public and the police in order to determine whose dick is the biggest and also to make some cash on the side.
Things get complicated when Tobey is contracted by ex rival, now millionaire, Dino (Dominic Cooper) to revamp a Ford Mustang. This comes to that, and in the senseless street race that things end up at as a means of sorting a financial dispute one of Tobey’s friends dies. To be honest, it was clear this baby face character won’t make it ten minutes into the film, but obviously Tobey was oblivious to the fact. Dino disappears and conjures himself an alibi while Tobey ends up in jail, where he undoubtedly belongs for putting hundreds at risk.
A quick montage later and Tobey is out of jail, broke, with only one course of redemption and revenge: get across the USA from New York to California at illegal speeds so as to partake in the biggest street race of them all, run by an eccentric radio shock-jock (Michael Keaton).  On the positive side, he has his old mechanic friends by his side as well as the film's token female character.
Yes, what we have on our hands is a silly excuse for a movie hell bent on capitalising on that Fast & Furious formula. On its own that is not necessarily bad; what is very bad, though, is the set of values promoted by Need for Speed. This is one hell of a chauvinistic movie, a movie that tells you – literally – that women can’t do it [drive] as well as man. This is a movie that glorifies people putting themselves in great danger for the sake of a cheap thrill, and much worse – it glorifies people putting everyone else around them in danger while paying little regard for the consequences. Last, but not least, this is a movie that tells its audience some significant portions of the laws that make up a healthy society can be ignored by a certain select group.
It’s also interesting and worthwhile noting that in contrast to today’s militarised American police services (refer to the township of Ferguson for additional details), Need for Speed’s police services are extremely under resourced and generally useless. In contrast, the grand race organisers are able to conjure multiple angle live coverage of their race over live Internet feeds and through iPads (cough product placement cough) with little effort. Let’s just say that historical accuracy is not amongst Need for Speed’s achievements.
Silliest scene:
There’s plenty of competition for this title, but the winner is probably the scene where our heroes refuel the rushing Tobey on his road to Damascus (sorry, California). While driving on a public road at high speeds, of course, because the loss of five minutes that’s incurred while stopping at a gas station is more than what can be compensated for over the course of a few straight days’ worth of driving.
Overall: Come on, Mr Paul, you can do much better than this crap movie. You did it before over dozens of episodes! 1.5 disenchanted crabs out of 5 for now, though.

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