Reviewed by: Alexander Malsan
|Featuring:||Aaron Paul … Tobey Marshall
Dakota Johnson … Anita
Imogen Poots … Julia Maddon
Dominic Cooper … Dino Brewster
Michael Keaton … Monarch
Rami Malek … Finn
Kid Cudi … Benny
Sir Maejor … Leigh Dennis—Inmate
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|Director:||Scott Waugh—“Act of Valor”|
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|Distributor:||Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures, Touchstone Pictures|
Tobey Marshall is considered one of the top street racers in the United States. When he’s not out racing expensive vehicles, he and his buddies work at his father’s old auto shop, Maxwell Automotives. After his father’s recent death, Toby is at a loss at what to do with the shop. The bank tells him that he has not been making enough payments on the shop’s loan and that he may have to close down.
Shortly after though, an old rival pops in, Dino Brewster, an ex-NASCAR racer and Indy 500 champion. He offers Toby and his crew the chance of a lifetime. Redesign a one of a kind, top notch Ford Mustang, and make $500, 000 in doing so. Toby accepts the offer.
After the car is finished, Dino and Tobey sell the car. During some back and forth conversation, Tobey, his best friend Pete, and Dino verse each other in a street race. During the race however, in an effort to win, Dino rams Pete’s car and the car crashes and explodes. Dino continues on while Tobey turns around and watches the accident.
Two years go by. Tobey, after taking the hit for Pete’s death, is released from prison with an opportunity to prove himself worthy to the win the De Leon—and beat Dino (also in the race) in honor of Pete. It’s a story of fast cars, beautiful girls… and revenge.
The best way to describe “Need for Speed” is to compare it to playing the actual video game, amplifying the action for two straight hours, and putting in onto a screen. I personally have always been a fan of the Need for Speed franchise—playing the game, out-racing the police, beating racers. The adrenaline would never stop! Walking into “Need for Speed,” I had a gut feeling that I would experience the same thing—two straight hours of racing and explosions.
Cinematically speaking, I wasn’t TOO disappointed. For those who are familiar with the Need for Speed world, elements such as the luxurious sports cars, helicopter and police chase scenes, will no doubt serve as encouragement and excitement to those who already love the games. As I read, and even myself noticed, elements from “Need for Speed: The Run” video game and “Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit,” crept their way into the movie. I have to say, this was a nice touch.
Here’s the issue though. The feeling I walked away from with “Need for Speed” was that the writers got together said, “Here’s a video game people love, lets add some characters, a plot, and have at it.” I felt that in the midst of creating this movie, character development fell ever so slightly short. I didn’t really understand Tobey’s past with his father and how exactly it effected his need to race, and the element of romance thrown in felt unnecessary.
Is the movie action packed? You bet! Are there elements, like the chase scenes (including one involving a helicopter suspending a car above the ground) and scenery and some of the performances, that are pretty amazing? Well, yeah. “Need for Speed” serves its purpose as an action film. But if action is the ONLY purpose of the film, then one might be better off just playing the game on their favorite console.
Content of concern
Violence: Heavy. Violence consists of multiple reckless (and I do mean reckless) racing and chase scenes and car explosions (one of them resulting in a death). We watch, sometimes in detail, the destruction of these cars and civilian vehicles. Parents may want to use some caution in allowing their children to see this movie, as they may deem this kind of racing appropriate.
Profanity: Heavy. H*ll (4x), a** (3x), a**hole (1x), b**ch (4x), sh*t (14x), God’s name is used in vain (in the form of OMG) twice and Jesus name is used in vain at least once. Other profanity includes, “coochy,” “balls” (a couple instances), “nut-sac,” b**tards, d***-bag, a couple of male genital references, “getting your hands dirty,” someone’s “hands being up my skirt” (comment made by a male).
Sex/Nudity: Moderate to Heavy. There is a somewhat prolonged scene involving rear male nudity (we see his rear three times at different angles and in one instance in front of an older lady in an elevator, to which the woman makes a sexual move). This was odd and out of place (even after the movie, I still ask myself, “Why was this there?”). In another scene theres is a close up of women’s buttocks while jogging in shorts. Lastly, there is a passionate kiss.
Other: There are a couple scenes involving alcohol.
In the two hours, we watch as Toby’s character seeks revenge (whether in be by harming the person responsible in a bodily fashion or not). His anger, regret, and need for revenge for Pete’s death “drives” him for most of the movie. If Toby knew better, he realize that vengeance is not his for the taking. Neither is it appropriate to hold onto faults. The Scriptures tell us:
Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. –Romans 12:19 (NIV)
Speaking from experience, anger, hate, and revenge can bring out the very worst in a person. Little by little, it destroys the person’s reasoning and does not allow the person to grow in the Lord. But anger and hate and revenge can be forgiven by our Lord Jesus. When someone faults us, Jesus says in Matthew 18:18,
“Truly I say to you, whatever you bind on Earth shall have been bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on Earth shall have been loosed in heaven.”
And later in Matthew 18:21-22…
“Then Peter came and said to Him, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him? Up to seven times ?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.”
In the movie, we watch as Tobey realizes revenge does not satisfy. As Christians, it will not satisfy us either. We are called to love and forgiveness, and it can only be achieved through the Lord Jesus.
“Need for Speed” is a movie built for a small, targeted audience. Fans (mainly teenagers) of the video game franchise will no doubt find the subtle nuances from the games inside the movie and will jump at the chance to see their favorite racing game on the big screen. On the other side though, it is an action movie, so do not go into the theater looking for anything deep. Apart from the male nudity, violence, and profanity, I thought this movie was okay, just not as great as I hoped from the director behind “Act of Valor.” Do not bring children to this movie or anyone who may be influenced by this type of reckless driving. In short, viewers are better off playing the video game.
Violence: Heavy / Profanity: Heavy / Sex/Nudity: Heavy
See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.