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Need for Speed (3D) (AF)


Stars: Aaron Paul, Dominic Cooper, Imogen Poots, Michael Keaton, Scott Mescudi, Rami Malek, Ramon Rodriguez, Dakota Johnson

Director: Scott Waugh

It seems a tad surprising that, with the ‘Fast and Furious’ series breeding sequels like an oversexed white mouse on steroids, Hollywood would bother with yet another roaring road racing offering.

However, despite the thrill the next ‘Fast and Furious’ movie has in store when Jason Statham will join forces Vin Diesel and company, director/editor Scott Waugh’s take on the established four-wheel action thriller (based on a mega-selling video game) refreshes a genre that seemed to be heading for a cul-de-sac.

The basic storyline is simple – street racer Aaron Paul (“It was a blast to film”, he said at the screening) gets out of jail after two years, having been framed by Dominic Cooper for a crime he did not commit and sets out for revenge by beating Cooper in the ultimate cross country car race which involves him in driving from New York to California in 45 hours or less with English-to-the-nth degree Imogen Poots as an understandably nervous passenger…

Waugh’s ‘get-down-to-business style’ of delivering suspense and action rather than seeking auteuristic artiness suits the story down to the ground (and in the air, too, where Paul’s accomplice guides him past problems from a light aircraft and a helicopter). And, happily, instead of the usual avalanche of CGI effects, Need for Speed scores strongly and excitingly, thanks to the extraordinary work of drivers who ignore the need for movie magic in favour of staging the stunning real life stunt action that gives the film its driving force.

Action, action and more four-wheeled action is the film’s raison d’etre and it delivers in top gear. And there was one splendidly cynical joke, too, when someone (not Mr Morgan, to be fair) announces, “I really love Piers Morgan!”

From the beginning at a Mt Kisko drive-in cinema showing, appropriately, ‘Bullitt’ to the never-in-doubt climax, Need For Speed entertains on a vivid visceral level, effectively potentiated by Shane Hurlbut’s fine 3D cinematography and Oaul Rubell and Waugh’s editing. (And you don’t need even to be a fan of Paul’s Breaking Bad to get a kick out of it).

Alan Frank

USA 2014. UK Distributor: EntertainmentOne. Technicolor.
126 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 12A.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 2, Drugs 0, Swearing 0.

Review date: 16 Mar 2014