Thursday, March 13, 2014

Carnage Count - Need For Speed

I just got out of a screening of Need For Speed, and I did my best to keep track of cars being destroyed and people being killed.

I was actually very surprised by how much I enjoyed this movie!  I was honestly expecting it to be completely ridiculous, not necessarily bad, but not great.  I also thought the film would kind of be a cheap "Fast and Furious" knock off.  It honestly didn't remind me of that series at all.
The film stars Aaron Paul from Breaking Bad and Dominic Cooper who plays Howard Stark in Captain America.
Kill Count - 3
Wrecked Car Count - 18
Kills Per Minute - 0.02
Car Wrecks Per Minute - 0.14
Surprisingly low kill count and a shocking low car wrecks per minute.
The premise of the film is fairly simple.  Unlike the later Fast and Furious titles, this movie isn't about drugs, violence, stopping criminals, etc.  This is a racing movie about racing.  In fact, there is a significantly low amount of violence for a movie in this genre.  There's no real fighting other than car on car combat.  My unofficial and completely personal kill count is three.  One character most definitely dies, and is a major plot point.  There are a few car crashes that could result in death, but seeing other car crashes characters walk away from, I assume most of them live.  There's a specific car crash where one car hits a ramp with two tires, bursting in to flames and flying head on into an oncoming cars windshield.  I'm counting both of these as deaths due to the fire in the first car, and the second car's driving getting a car to the face.

The storyline is about a performance shop owner who gets into a race with a millionaire and one of his close friends.  Without ruining much, somebody dies and Toby (Aaron Paul) gets sent to jail for manslaughter.  Knowing he is innocent, he gets out years later and wants to prove he didn't kill the other driver.  Without much explanation, he decides he needs to enter a race in California that the real killer is also in.  A large majority of the movie is Toby driving from New York to San Francisco.  Which reminds me of a classic car movie....

Vanishing Point is easily one of my favorite car movies.  For those who might be unfamiliar, Vanishing Point follows a man attempting to deliver a car from Denver to San Francisco in 15 hours.  In Need for Speed, they have about 45 hours to go from New York to San Francisco.  It feels similar at times, especially during Need For Speed's desert chase scenes.

Another striking similarity is Michael Keaton's character in the film.  Michael Keaton plays this internet radio/TV host.  He talks all things cars and apparently puts on a crazy race where the winner gets all the cars that have entered.  The race is invitation only, so Toby gets himself into a crazy car chase in Detroit and sends the footage to this guy.  He invites him to the race and encourages him to evade police and make it to the race.

In Vanishing Point, while evading police, a DJ hears about the pursuit of this car over the police radio.  He encourages the main character to evade police.  It feels similar, obviously, but not in a knock off way, more of a homage.

Eighteen seems like a surprisingly low amount of destroyed cars for racing movie like this.  In fact, a majority of those cars destroyed are destroyed at the climax of the film.  That being said, I was entertained the entire movie, all 125 minutes of it which actually seemed far too long before I actually watched it.

Overall, I'm very happy with the film.  It's not perfect, but I expected ridiculous garbage cashing in on Fast and Furious popularity, but the final product is genuine racing movie filled with great chases, beautiful cars, and memorable characters.  Need For Speed proves you can have a fun car movie without drugs, sex, or high amounts of violence.

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