With 150 million units sold, Electronic Arts’ Need For Speed is the most successful racing videogame series of all time. But don’t bank on this tie-in movie gaining the same sort of longevity. While it would love to kick-start a franchise like The Fast & The Furious, it will take a miracle for that to happen.
On the surface, NFS has a lot going for it. Former stuntman Scott Waugh at the helm; a hot-to-trot cast, led by Breaking Bad’s effortlessly likeable Aaron Paul; and more cool cars than Jeremy Clarkson’s driveway. Unfortunately, it’s also got a clanging script from debutant George Gatins, bogged down by dreary dialogue, flawed logic and appalling characterisation.
Need For Speed gets it right in one area: the stunts are pure adrenalin shots – from a wonderful cross-freeway leap that will leave your jaw hanging to a stunning helicopter car-lift. So where do the problems lie? Let’s start with the clichéd characters, from Cooper’s all-in-black villain to Poots’ posh totty who – surprise, surprise – knows more about engines than Jenson Button (“never judge a girl by her Gucci boots,” she says).
Then there’s the plot. For a film that rushes along at 100 mph, you can also see the twists a mile off. Lacking F&F’s urban credibility, this is a well-behaved younger brother; the end result is like a poor man’s Cannonball Run. Come back Burt Reynolds – all is forgiven.