Picture from Need For Speed
Overall D+

Based on the popular video game, Need For Speed pits Tobey Marshall (Aaron Paul) against cops and crooks as the street racer, who has spent some time behind bars, uses his new freedom to find and punish those who put the breaks on his former life.

Violence C-
Sexual Content C
Profanity C
Substance Use B-

MPAA Rating: PG-13 for sequences of reckless street racing, disturbing crash scenes, nudity and crude language.

Need For Speed

There is plenty of fast-paced street racing here -- what is needed is responsibility!

Can you drive faster if you grimace? Apparently. That’s why all the drivers in the Need for Speed furrow their brows as soon as they get behind the wheel of a car. And nobody does it better than Tobey Marshall (Aaron Paul).

Tobey supports his racing habit and pit crew with the earnings from his garage. But lately his income has been a little lean and that forces him to take a custom car job from his old rival Dino Brewster (Dominic Coouper). The two men have been at odds on the racetrack since childhood. Dino now has a professional gig as a driver but that doesn’t stop him from wanting to grind Tobey’s reputation into the asphalt.

Borrowing three of his uncle’s luxury concept cars, Dino lays down a challenge for Tobey and Pete (Harrison Gilbertson), one of Tobey’s garage hands. With an agreed upon finish line, the three men take off on a high-speed competition that has them weaving through traffic, driving down the wrong side of the road and causing a fiery explosion that leaves one man dead.

Wrongfully charged with the death, Tobey spends the next two years behind bars. When he emerges from jail, his only goal is to make Dino pay for his unjust incarceration. But to do so, Tobey has less than 48 hours to drive all the way across the country and earn a spot in the secretive DeLeon road race.

Based on the EA video game, this storyline is all about one thing: illegal street racing. Honoring the memory of his father, stuntman Fred Waugh, film director Scott Waugh chose not to include any computer generated driving stunts. That meant the actors spent hours at driving school perfecting their skills. Knowing the stunts are real makes the explosive and spectacular car crashes, the camerawork and the editing all that more impressive—and possibly dangerous.

While the Fast and Furious franchise has dialed back on the depictions of street racing in more recent movies, Need for Speed runs at full throttle. Tobey’s hunger for revenge means he endangers, and likely maims or kills, a host of innocent victims. But the camera speeds away before showing any of the deadly consequences. Instead all audiences get is the adrenaline rush of watching high-powered cars careen down the roadways with their engines roaring.

Although that might be okay if you’re sitting in a theater or working the controls of your game console, Need for Speed sets a high-risk precedent for drivers who think they can recreate the rush when they get behind the wheel of a real car.