Is Aaron Paul the coolest guy on the planet? Quite possibly. In a world where names like Tom Hiddleston and Benedict Cumberbatch often get the love from fangirls everywhere, the former Jesse Pinkman has slowly crept up and made a name for himself. We all know that Breaking Bad was a huge critical hit and popular with many fans across the world, but Paul has become a star in his own right via various chat show appearances and his amazing use of social media.
Despite having worked in TV and film since the late 90s, Aaron Paul’s career has been a slow-burner, reaching award-winning status with AMC’s hit series alongside Bryan Cranston. And while he appeared in movies like Mission Impossible 3 and The Last House On The Left, he has been waiting for that true breakout hit in Hollywood for quite some time. Step forward Need For Speed.
What’s It About? Need For Speed. We all know the title of course from the video games. Whether you’ve played them or not, you’re likely familiar with the concept at the heart of the franchise – fast cars! Now you might think something like the Fast and the Furious series might have that angle covered, but truthfully those movies have moved far more into the action genre over the past few years. Developing a movie out of a video game is always a risky movie (hello Super Mario Bros!) but the best thing about this project is that the video game Need For Speed has never really had a strong storyline aspect to it, so actually beyond the franchise name and fast car concept, there’s not a whole lot to spoil. The movie is based on a very basic idea and is for all intents and purposes an original project.
Aaron Paul plays street racer Tobey Marshall, a no-nonsense guy who has one goal in mind – revenge. His friend dies in suspicious racing circumstances against a rival driver, and as you can imagine, there’s a lot of reckless behaviour, fast cars and impressive stunts. Need For Speed isn’t one of those movies you watch for plot – it’s all about speed, exciting high-octane action, and spectacular visuals. With Dominic Cooper (Marvel’s Howard Stark) and Imogen Poots (28 Weeks Later) on board, the casting is solid and works well within the context of a film that knows exactly what it is. This isn’t a project that will be adding any more awards to Aaron Paul’s cabinet, but it’s certainly one that’s a lot of fun.
Verdict: If you’ve picked up Need For Speed, it’s generally going to be for one of a few reasons – you love Aaron Paul, or fast cars, or just want to watch something fun that you don’t need to think about. If that’s what you’re looking for then Need For Speed is a perfect movie for you. All the stunts are done properly without relying on CGI, all the cars are damn sexy and Aaron Paul is as cool as he ever has been. That’s not even mentioning Dominic Cooper who gives Paul a run for his money in the cool stakes. It’s all about managing expectations, and you’d be silly to go and watch a film like this for anything other than a few hours of fun. There’s always going to be room in Hollywood for movies like these, and at home they are standard viewing for a Saturday night with a takeaway, a few friends, and maybe a drink or two. Need For Speed is a thrilling ride from start to finish with some great set pieces and a reminder that other franchises don’t have a complete monopoly on craziness with cars.
Extras: For anyone that’s a little more curious about the making of the movie, there’s some behind-the-scenes footage but nothing too comprehensive. There’s also a teaser for a game.
Final Words: You know that phrase ‘does exactly what it says on the tin’? Well, that was made exactly for Need For Speed. Yes, it’ll anger a few viewers with its complete lack of care in relation to plot, but there’s a million other movies out there if you want plot. Here’s a movie that never pretends to be something other than what it is – an excuse to drive cars fast and do some crazy stunts. To that end, Need For Speed succeeds. Throw in Aaron Paul and you’ve got a great combination, and in the end it’s a harmless experience for any viewer looking to have some dumb fun watching a film. You don’t want highbrow culture all the time – sometimes you just need to relax and go along for the ride with something like Need For Speed.
Need For Speed is out on Blu-ray & DVD on 21 July 2014.