Fast cars, clichés converge in ‘Need for Speed’

If it’s over-the-top racing action you want, it’s over-the-top racing action you’ll get in “Need for Speed,” which stars Aaron Paul as a driver on a mission. (AP Photo/DreamWorks II, Melinda Sue Gordon)

If it’s over-the-top racing action you want, it’s over-the-top racing action you’ll get in “Need for Speed,” which stars Aaron Paul as a driver on a mission. (AP Photo/DreamWorks II, Melinda Sue Gordon)

By M. Scott Morris

Daily Journal

Fast cars, attractive women and a cliché plot combine in “Need for Speed.”

Tobey Marshall (Aaron Paul) is a small-town racing phenomenon who seems to have lost some of his mojo since his father died.

His business is in trouble and needs a serious infusion of cash, or Tobey and all of his buddies will have to split up and find news ways of making their livings.

Tobey’s old rival Dino (Dominic Cooper) offers a prime financial opportunity as a peace offering. It’s a deal with the devil and goes the way of all deals with the devil.

But the thing about being knocked down as far as you can go is the only remaining direction is up. Tobey’s got a plan and team of supporters.

All he needs to do is get his fast car (a mythical Ford Mustang) and an attractive woman (Imogen Poots) across the country in time to take part in a fabled street race.

Laws are broken from state to state, and once I quit worrying about the consequences of all those broken laws, the movie became more fun for me.

There’s not a lot of logic to “Need for Speed.” Again, it’s about fast cars, attractive women and a cliché plot, and that’s not a horrible combination if you’re in the right mood.

Poots is Julia, the attractive woman in question, and she’s often as sharp-witted as she is easy on the eyes. She goes giggly a few times late in the movie, contrary to the way the character is presented earlier, but what the heck?

You can probably guess who one of the drivers in the big street race will be, and you can probably guess how that race will play out.

But there’s something about the performances and the story that held my attention, and that’s important.

Far better films have wandered into left field and left me looking at my watch. I checked my watch once during “Need for Speed” and never again.

Paul and Poots have good chemistry in the front seats of that Mustang, and Michael Keaton – everybody remembers him, right? – is suitably odd as an eccentric video blogger and race promoter.

Still, clichés can take you only so far. I give “Need for Speed” a C.

It’s showing at the Cinemark in Tupelo, as well as Malcos in Oxford, Corinth and Columbus, Hollywood Premier Cinemas in Starkville, and Movie Reel 4 in New Albany.

Look for movie reviews in Scene on Thursdays, and listen each Tuesday morning on Wizard 106.7 between 8:30 and 8:45 a.m.