'Need For Speed' Is All Cars, All The Time

Mar 20, 2014

Professional driver. Do not attempt.
Credit rottentomatoes.com

Like all reviewers, I am sometimes required to go to movies that are not my type and which I am not likely to do justice to. In the case of Need For Speed, for example, a friend told me I should have known that cars that are swerving on the straightaway, skidding on the corners and sometimes spinning around, are being very skillfully driven at speeds in excess of 100 mph.

I thought Need For Speed was simply one of those usual Hollywood hymns to reckless driving.

It's a cliché‎-ridden race car movie about illegal auto racing on public roads and city streets, featuring spectacular crashes and credited with 73 stunt drivers and, reportedly, no computer graphics, just real-life trick driving. My friend told me that the incredible bits I described to him were not impossible, and I have to take his word for that.

And let me say that I was never bored. Need For Speed has really exciting driving and colliding, with cars sailing through the air for half a block and landing on the grass and barreling on without detectable slackening of speed. Cars land upside-down and slither and roll and flame out without the customary orange-and-black explosions that I have been told are, in fact, almost impossible. It has that much realism.

But that's about all it has. It's based on a video game and has as much plot and characterization as that origin suggests. There's no sex, because the hero and heroine are roaring along in a two-seat car at over 100 mph. Acting is purely a matter of physical casting, and what minimal plot there is is stitched together from a multitude of other movies, most of which I'm sure I've never seen.

But Need For Speed is reportedly a big hit. I'm neither pleased nor surprised at that.