Flix: 'Need for Speed' is quite a ride

March 12, 2014 at 3:05 p.m.
Updated March 11, 2014 at 10:12 p.m.

This image released by DreamWorks II shows Aaron Paul, left, and Dominic Cooper in a scene from "Need for Speed."

This image released by DreamWorks II shows Aaron Paul, left, and Dominic Cooper in a scene from "Need for Speed."

Movies based on video games are usually pretty bad, so it's refreshing to see a film finally break that mold. Here's how they did it in "Need for Speed."

First, director Scott Waugh, a former stuntman and inventor of the 35 mm helmet cam, moved away from CGI - or computer-generated imagery - and used real cars and drivers.

Second, the screenplay was written by George Gatins and John Gatins, who received an Oscar nomination for Best Original Screenplay for the 2012 film "Flight."

And third, the movie features a great cast with "Breaking Bad" star Aaron Paul in the lead role.

Tobey Marshall (Paul) and his team of skillful mechanics know how to build a fast car, so they get approached for a job by rival Dino Brewster (Dominic Cooper), an arrogant ex-NASCAR pro.

Business is slow, so they accept the job, and the team builds a GT Mustang worth $3 million. After the car is sold, Dino and Tobey clash and on an impulse decide to race, which results in the death of Tobey's best friend after he's run off the road by Dino, who flees the scene and frames Tobey for the death.

After serving time for manslaughter, Tobey is released from prison and vows to get revenge and clear his name.

He contacts the owner of the GT Mustang and convinces him to let him borrow the car to enter an illegal street race known as the De Leon, hosted by the reclusive and eccentric billionaire Monarch played by Michael Keaton. The owner of the car sends his representative, Julia (Imogen Poots), to accompany Tobey and keep an eye on the $3 million car.

The duo have less than 48 hours to go cross country and get to California to enter the race with every cop chasing them while dodging bounty hunters hired by Dino to stop them.

The driving sequences are fantastic and were shot with 27 cameras. And the stunts pay homage to all those great car films from "Bullitt" to "Smokey and the Bandit."

The supporting cast brings the right amount of humor to the film, especially the charming Brit, Imogen Poots, and Scott Mescudi - better known to the music world as Kid Cudi.

The movie was converted to 3D after Waugh was shown a demo, but I recommend seeing it in 2D because 3D dims the picture. You really don't need any enhancements to enjoy this film.

RATING: 3 1/2 stars

Joe Friar is a member of the Houston Film Critics Society, juror at the Victoria Texas Independent Film Festival (VTXIFF) and host of the Breakfast Buzz morning show on Hit Radio 104.7. Contact Joe at jfriar95@gmail.com



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