NEED FOR SPEED is a surprisingly entertaining movie inspired by the video game of the same name.
Tobey Marshall lives in small-town Mt. Kisco, N.Y. as a mechanic working at his father’s garage. With his father’s recent death, Tobey struggles to pay the bills. For extra money, he and his mechanic buddies race cars on the underground street circuit. When Dino, an enemy and rival from the past, approaches Tobey with a business proposition that includes building the fastest Mustang in the world, Tobey reluctantly agrees because he needs the cash.
Months pass. Tobey and his team build the Mustang for Dino and are able to sell it for $2.7 million due to Tobey impressing a buyer with his driving skills. Embarrassed by Tobey’s superior driving skills, Dino challenges Tobey to a race. The winner takes all the earnings from the Mustang sale. Tobey jumps on the opportunity to humiliate Dino, but Tobey’s close friend and protégé, Little Pete, asks if he can join in the race, and Dino lets him.
Dino borrows three identically made unreleased super cars from his rich uncle’s garage. The race begins and the danger becomes very real as they weave between cars and dodge trucks at incredibly high speeds. [SPOILERS FOLLOW] When it looks as if Tobey is about win, Dino angrily hits Little Pete’s car, causing it to flip over and burst into flames, instantly killing Pete. Dino flees the scene of the crash. So, all the blame falls on the grieving Tobey, who’s thrown into prison.
Two years later, Tobey gets released. Determined to avenge Pete, he sets up a plan to beat Dino in a highly secretive and exclusive race called the De Leon. He manages to borrow the Mustang he built two years prior, but the car’s owner requires he bring along Julia, the young British woman who originally made the deal for her client. Along with his crew from home, Tobey and Julia set off for California for the race that could make him rich, but more importantly, bring justice to a lost friend. All they have to do is get invited into the De Leon, avoid the police looking for Tobey, and survive a bounty that Dino put on Tobey’s head. Ready, Set, Go!
NEED FOR SPEED is a pleasant surprise in many ways. Likely to be compared to the six FAST AND FURIOUS movies, not only is it miles better than the first four in that franchise, but it sets itself apart as something different entirely. The car races are some of the most gripping action sequences you’ll see, hearkening back and paying homage to car related movies of the 1960s and 70s such as BULLITT and THE SEVEN-UPS. Some of the plot holes require a suspension disbelief that might leave you scratching your head. Also, the character motivations are unclear at points, and the story jumps time a few too many times. Otherwise, the acting, camerawork, and action are sure to keep you captivated.
Best of all, the movie takes a simple vengeance story and turns it into something much more redeeming. On more than one occasion, Tobey has the chance to avenge the death of his friend. In both cases, he rises above his hate and does the right thing. He chooses justice over vengeance. Also, his reckless and illegal driving don’t go unpunished.
Happily, NEED FOR SPEED also has a few overt Christian elements. They include a Christian funeral where a Bible passage is read and images of a chapel for truckers. A caution is advised for some rear male nudity and a little too much foul language. Otherwise, NEED FOR SPEED is a fun thrill ride with some positive Christian, moral, and redemptive lessons and content.