Sunday, March 9, 2014

Movie Review: Need for Speed

I don't know if it's me, or when it comes to stuff, EA just have this tendency to ruin everything good. Or maybe it could just be a conincidence, but the latest movie released based on the hugely popular Need for Speed game franchise was just average at best. The existence of the more established Fast and Furious franchise doesn't help much too, as movie goers would definitely compare the both.

I had the chance to attend the premiere screening the other day thanks to Walt Disney Studios Singapore, and although I had been a fan of the Need for Speed games series, the movie was somewhat disappointing. The trailer itself did not look promising either, and despite lowering my expectations for the movie, I still walked away somewhat unfulfilled, for several reasons.




1. Need for Cliche/Stereotypes

If I can rename the whole movie to a title of my choice, I would name it Need for Cliche instead. The storyline and casting felt like someone took out the handbook for Hollywood Cliches/Stereotypes and decided to copy every single trick in there.

Main hero who is struggling to make ends meet and decided to accept a shady job? Check. Main hero who lost someone important and vows vengeance? Check. Main rival who stole main heroes girlfriend? Check. Incarcerated hero who seeks to redeem himself? Check. Funny black dude whose sole purpose is to be the comic relief? Check. Bimbotic female lead to serve as the hero's love interest? Check too!

It seems that every imaginable trick that has been used before in movies are piled into this one, so much so until I can't help but to wonder if the screenwriter decided to be one lazy dude and just steal major ideas and combine them into one big story of cliche. There is almost nothing new to the storyline that you could expect, and one could easily guess how the story would turn out less than half an hour into the movie. I mean I know the movie is about racing, but to have such an unimaginative script is almost appalling.




2. Where are all the racing tricks?

Speaking of racing, when the biggest trick you can pull off is a jump above two trees, you have something serious to worry about. I mean for a movie, one would be forgiven to hope for more racing tricks and stunts being pulled to keep you at the edge of your seat. But sadly, the stunts and tricks in the movie were few and far between, and even if they existed, they shared the same fate as the script: unimaginative.

The biggest car stunt pulled off in the film was the one used with the helicopter (that you can see from the trailer and posters themselves) and I did not count that in because it involved a helicopter and not really about driving. And even when it comes to the supposed final showdown, it lacked the usual fast paced and split second maneuvers. Most of the race were done in straight roads without much obstacles (the final one, where it is supposed to be a showdown at least), and they mostly involved only drifting or evading. The worst part? Overtaking cars involved only overtaking them, on a straight road. Only stepping on the pedal. No skills involved. Which was kinda disappointing when you're hoping for a slightly more display of skill.




3. The Saving Grace

But luckily the entire movie was not without any merits. There were awesome moments in the movie where you feel like standing up and clapping your hands. One such scene was when one of the supporting characters (the character development was that bad until I don't remember his name) waltz off from his office in his most confident suave dance possible. That was one of the best moments in the film, but sadly it was one of the far and few between moments where you're actually enjoying the movie.

The female lead is pretty likable too, but other than that, I had trouble finding other reasons to love the movie.




In a nutshell, Need for Speed has pretty fast cars. But when it comes to driving them and an actual storyline, the movie pretty much falls short of everything. I have a feeling that the producers were really in fact trying to milk the Need for Speed storyline and I feel that it isn't a movie that is worth paying for to watching in the cinema. A 4/10, I would give.


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