Middle of the road action thriller

High-speed action from 'Need for Speed'.
High-speed action from 'Need for Speed'.

Inspired by a series of video games, ‘Need For Speed’ accelerates smoothly into the slipstream of ‘The Fast And The Furious’ and its high-octane pretenders.

Director Scott Waugh puts the pedal to the metal from the turbo-charged opening which establishes a rivalry between the cash-strapped protagonist (Aaron Paul) and his cocksure rival (Dominic Cooper) that drives the narrative to its predictably tragic resolution.

Paul attempts to jumpstart his big screen career off the back of the TV series ‘Breaking Bad’ and he is extremely likeable in a woefully malnourished role. Cooper is far less impressive as the slippery antagonist, whose greed, recklessness and overinflated ego bring about his downfall.

The story centres on car mechanic Tobey Marshall (Paul), who runs his father’s garage but is struggling to make ends meet so he relies on prize money from illegal street races.

Aided by his team comprising Benny (Kid Cudi), Joe (Ramon Rodriguez), Finn (Rami Malek) and Little Pete (Harrison Gilbertson), Tobey is king of the road until a race against Dino Brewster (Cooper) ends in an inferno. Tobey is arrested and sentenced for a crime he did not commit while Dino walks away.

Two years later, Tobey is released and he swears revenge against Dino by competing against his nemesis in a legendary race organised by the enigmatic Monarch (Michael Keaton).

‘Need For Speed’ is neither as deliriously fast nor furious as the films it hopes to emulate despite some slick set pieces. Under the bonnet, the picture lacks depth and characterisation.