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REVIEW: We watch 'Need for Speed'

2014-03-19 11:48

CALLING CAR FANS: The 'Need for Speed' movie is showing at local cinemas from March 20. Aaron Paul (above) stars in the action-packed car film based on the popular game, 'Need for Speed'. Image: Dreamworks


The SA-bound Ford Mustang will make its big-screen debut in ‘Need for Speed’ set to be released later in 2014. Check out the new muscle car in action in an awesome video!


   • 'Need for Speed' (NFS) film at silver screen
   • Rivals 'The Fast and the Furious' series
   • Vehicular lunacy at best

The 'Need for Speed' movie is about to hit South Africa. Is it going to be better than the popular 'The Fast and the Furious' movie series? Wheels24's SERGIO DAVIDS finds out if this is the ultimate car movie...

It opens at South African cinemas on March 20 2014.

The film takes on the challenge of delivering a “car movie” with driving antics and a drool-worthy supercar race featuring cars such as the McLaren P1 and Bugatti Veyron.


The plot borrows heavily from 'NFS: The Run', in which a nondescript criminal/professional driver has to take atrip across the USA.

The movie stars Aaron Paul (of 'Breaking Bad' fame) as Tobey Marshall, a down-on-his-luck former race driver and owner of a financially struggling garage. Marshall meets antagonist Dino Brewster (Dominic Cooper, 'Captain America: The First Avenger'), a typical power-hungry "has more money than sense" businessman/professional driver (READ car-movie villain).

VIDEO: 'Need for Speed' trailer

What Marshall soon learns is, as is the case in real life, you should never make a car deal with anyone wearing a black leather jacket...especially if EVERYONE warns you he is evil.

Win a Need for Speed hamper worth R2000

A tragic car crash occurs and after being wrongfully accused, Marshall is jailed for several years. Once out of the clink he decides to take revenge by entering an “invitation-only” race, the DeLeon, hosted by Riddler-esque Michael Keaton. The DeLeon is an ‘anything-goes’ single-lap course that pits the world’s top drivers against each other for the ultimate prize – a rare supercar worth millions.

Cue epic car chase.

Along the way we’re introduced to Marshall’s eventual love interest Julia Maddon (Imogen Poots).

The movie also answers many of the questions that bothered me throughout 'The Fast and the Furious' series:

  • How do the racers know where they’re racing to?
  • Why do they insist dropping from first to second before pulling away?
  • How do they avoid traffic?
  • How are they paying for any of this?

In short, a well-organised and outfitted group of misfits are responsible for getting Marshall from point A to B.

A racer is only as good as his pit crew and our hero is backed up by a Hollywood B-list cast of mechanics and support personal that includes a wise-cracking pilot providing comedic relief, a surly but wizened mechanic, a crazy maverick and a little brother living on borrowed time.

Paul/Poots make a great effort of providing some on-screen chemistry but bad-guy Cooper’s acting is a letdown and can best be described as wooden.

Then there are the cars...

It wouldn’t be a car movie without a stellar list of blistering-performance machines. From a classic Ford Gran Torino to the Saleen S7, in 'Need for Speed' the cars steal the limelight.

Without giving too much away there’s a supercar battle the likes of which has only been experienced before in the NFS gaming titles.

The movie features...
1966 Pontiac GTO
1969 Ford Gran Torino
Koenigsegg Agera (Standard, S and R versions)
2013 Shelby GT500
2014 Ford Mustang GT
Saleen S7
McLaren P1
Bugatti Veyron Super Sport
Lamborghini Sesto Elemento
GTA Spano


Crashes are a big part of the movie though the true horror, for a car fan, is revealed behind the scenes.

In an interview with Top Gear director Scott Waugh revealed that nearly a hundred cars were wrecked and of the eight Mustangs built six were wrecked in filming.

Fortunately the units used during crashes were replicas, essentially kit car chassis with super car shells on top.

Interestingly, the camera cars were also modified in order to keep up with the supercars. The film used a heavily modified Ford Mustang and Porsche Cayenne as film-cars.

The ‘IT’ car of the movieis unashamedly the Ford Mustang, the latest-generation muscle car that will arrive in South Africa in 2015.

So how does it compare to 'The Fast and the Furious'?

The cars are better. Very few of those in 'The Fast and the Furious' series were worth salivating over. With an abundance of eye-wateringly beautiful supercars, 'NFS' has set the bar very high indeed.

The car chases are awesome, and, sure, 'The Fast and the Furious' became known for its hot races and crazy stunts but pale in comparison to those seen in 'NFS'. The film stays true to its video game roots and delivers on the kind of races we expect to see – police chases, supercars racing on public roads through traffic – and the harsh reality of crashes.

'NFS' has the unenviable job of having a cast that has become synonymous with cool cars and witty banter. The Fast and the Furious had years to build on its characters. The Paul/Poots burgeoning love story isn’t as gripping as, say, Letty/Dom (Michelle Rodriguez/Vin Diesel) or Mia/O’Conner (Jordana Brewster/ the late Paul Walker).

Who knows what a possible sequel will bring... (Please make a sequel!)


Overall, where 'The Fast and the Furious' focused on drama and modified rides, 'Need for Speed' is about unadulterated racing action.

Whether you view cars as hunks of metal in which to communte or worship all things vehicular, 'Need for Speed' is a great movie and a worthy contender for the best car movie franchise...that is if they make a sequel.

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