Quarter Mile Magazine

Why the Need for Speed movie isn’t for you.

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You love cars. And when they have a car movie out, you ought to watch it. But a couple of minutes into the movie, I could feel, something wasn’t quite right about the much hyped ‘Need for Speed’ movie- a film that features ultra rare hyper cars before they were officially released. Some of them get driven in ways that defies physics, get thrown off into the air to end up in big fire balls. I felt like I was too grown up to cheer for something like that now. Is it just me? Read on.

The movie, just like the franchise it is produced by, seems to be spun off a video game. And where a video game is all about having fun and no body questions why you have to kills everyone with the gun or push cars off the road for the sake of it, a movie has to be a bit more realistic than that. You have to have that connection with real life as to why anyone would do it and how. But the producers of ‘Need for Speed’ have managed to create one with very little logic and common sense in place. As a car enthusiast, you will be put off by the lack of proper story line, insane jumps, unbelievable aerial support and replica cars that aren’t convincing enough.

As often is the case with most car movies, the story line is very thin. But since we are used to a bunch of thieves who started out stealing DVD players in the first Fast and Furious, we can take it all with a pinch of salt. Need for Speed however assumes car enthusiasts are a bunch of idiots who gets their dose from high speed action. They took the story line from a video game and left it without adding any gravy to it. And truth be told, some of their game replays are far more interesting than the film they have come up with.

It starts off in a drive-in theatre where they still play Bullit from the 60s. And then a race breaks off. There are a few good powerslides and the big hair-chested bellow of V8s accurately reproduced in that part. But how do they get a Cessna aircraft to fly up n the air and offer traffic insights for a silly street race is beyond me. The films ends with a high roller race called the ‘De Leon’ which is straight out of the game. There is even a school bus that gets in the way. The winner gets to keep all the cars in the race. But there is a problem with that.

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Tobey Marshall (Aaron Paul) is refered to as the ‘best in the business’ by Dino Brewster (Dominic Cooper). But surprisingly he is not recognized by any car manufacturers and is struggling to pay his loans. May be the victim of a poor business model, but Dino approaches him to build the car that ‘Carol Shelby’ was building when he passed away. Ford couldn’t build it, no one else bothered to and it took a crooked car dealer to entrust the job with a struggling garage to build a 900bhp Mustang complete with a holographic heads-up display and a live feed central information system.
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With its 22 inch Forgiato wheels and wider fender, the GT500 looked good though. Except when it jumps across two streets, the wheels get smaller and the car looks like a cheap fibre glass replica. It did survive the jump though, which is surprising, because we usually have fender clearance issue with such stance perfect rides here in India. And that is with speed bumps. Let alone high speed jumps over two lanes of moving traffic.

urlThen as soon as he evades the police, Tobey is seen racing towards the start of the De Leon, and gets an ‘on-the-fly refueling’ by his crew in a Ford F-450 pickup truck. If you ask, it is all a bit unnecessary. It would have been far easier to stop at a petrol station, fill it up and …erm…..drive faster to make up for the lost time. Oh, he does stop by a petrol station later, defeating the purpose of that dangerous and preposterous refueling procedure earlier.

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And why race towards the end for a ‘Winner takes all’ reward when every car gets destroyed and those which don’t, get confiscated by the police in persuit because the finishing point is a dead end near a light house and there is nowhere else to go. Even more foolish is why the wealthy owner would lend Tobey the pricey GT500 Mustang in return for all the cars he would win (oh..with that skills, he certainly would) at the end of the race. Not only did Tobey win anything in the race because every car gets destroyed, he even manages to crash the Mustang in the eve of the race. That is after it gets hooked up by its roof to a US army helicopter, without getting any damage whatsoever and gets flown precariously over some distance. Where he gets rejoined with his crew who were in the refuelling pickup truck, he waved good bye earlier but somehow manages to get ahead of the 900bhp Mustang.

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Then there is the usual cliché where an unassuming heroine turns out to be a surprisingly nerdy car nut when she sees what’s under the hood of the Mustang. She utters phrases like ‘aluminium block V8’ just by looking and that’s moments after she asks if 900 bhp is a lot.

Tobey spent two years in jail because the police couldn’t find the missing evidence that was the red Agera R that caused his brother’s death. No one saw it, no camera spotted it and it was just the two other Koenigseggs- one white and silver that took part in the street race. But that is not surprising as the fact that they had the Koenigsegg Agera R two years back (and we didn’t !!) and that the owner Dino had three, which he casually lets Tobey and his brother race with him. After the incident, he locked it up in a breaker’s yard with minimal security and left the details in his computer for his girlfriend to find.

Then there are the cars itself. They are all replicas. We know it could quadruple the budget if they use real cars in movies and film producers do it all the time, but some of the cars they used weren’t that convincing. If you are a real car enthusiast, you can tell the proportions are wrong, the wheel tracks are way off and the details aren’t right at all. Here are some we noticed.

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The Koenigsegg Agera has too much rear overhang and has unwanted light passing through its underbody.

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It also has fake vents that protrude too much.

1 (11)Speaking of vents, the McLaren P1 doesn’t have any at the rear

1 (16)The McLaren P1 has cheap chicken wire for its front air intakes. None of the cars have realistic headlamps. They have the same projector beam units though.
1 (18)Their wheel tracks are all wrong.

1 (20)The Sesto Elemento has power windows where the regular one has a Perspex slot like in race cars.

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The Bugatti Veyron Supersport and McLaren P1 seem to be the best replicas of the lot, but let down by the poor headlamps.

VERDICT
Clearly, Need for Speed is good at video games and bad at making movies. It is worth a watch just for the action, visual effects and to save them from losing money at this one. They have managed to capture the sense of speed, especially where the GT500 speeds off and initiates the police chase, when viewed from the building top and the Agera Rs go head to head against each other- although some may find the latter to be too fast. They have successfully managed to recreate the various engine notes and on a good multiplex you will enjoy it to no end. Where they have spectacularly failed it to create a fizz and hold a car enthusiast firmly in his chair for the better part of two hours, make his hair stand and make him want to watch it again and again.

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