I watch bad video game films so that you don’t have to #6: Need for Speed

Let's have a spoiler for our film in the poster!

Let’s have a spoiler for our film in the poster!

It has been a while since I did one of these but really, there hasn’t been anything of sufficient quality to write about. Fortunately the cash cow that never dies, Need for Speed, has erupted into a celluloid creation worthy of such top names as Aaron Paul (Whatever it Takes) and Dominic Cooper (he played Constable #3 in From Hell).

I went to the cinema to see it, so the stills used may or may not be from the film itself.

The film begins in a place called Mount Kisco, New York. There is some nonsense about racing and it unfolds a bit like one of those awful infodump things that poor films do when they don’t know how to relay information. It would have bothered me more but the piss-poor exposition is given by fucking Batman.

I really should have gone to see this film instead

I really should have gone to see this film instead.

Not that one.

Following that everything is shot as if it is set in the 50s ala. a drive-in theatre and muscle cars. This doesn’t really make any sense and it just seems to be an excuse to use some funky colour filters of the sort that are hip with kids these days.

Jesse Pinkman and his crew are introduced. There’s the usual ethnic variety that shows how great a white person Jesse is, plus one other white guy I nicknamed ‘Deadman Pete’ because the film made it abundantly clear that he was going to die; he is the baby of the bunch and inspires everyone else with his visions. In fact he has visions that people actually seem to not consider weird and even encourage him to talk about them.

Deadman Pete has a sister who used to be in a relationship with Pinkman but is now dating the main villain of the piece, played by Tony Stark’s dad.

Howard Stark

Some racing nonsense happens and they are still using their colour filter so it is impossible to tell which car is which and who is driving what. Pinkman does his best to put on his serious face, melding the best of Fast and Furious and Breaking Bad. Someone makes a quip that he isn’t lucky, just patient, moments before Jesse crosses the finishing line to sound of inevitable slow motion cheering.

Stark approaches Jesse about doing some work for him in the traditional ‘here is a deal that you shouldn’t accept because it is a really bad idea’ terrible way that all cartoon bad guys do. Pinkman agrees to it despite everyone else saying it is a bad idea.

Jesse then admits that despite the super expensive cars, the high tech equipment to track the race, the ability to pay for a plane and fuelling of said plane, the business they are running is about to go bust. So they build a car (they put some go-faster stripes on it) and take it to get sold.

At this point Imogen Poots shows up. This makes me extremely happy because not only is she generally a good actress but she has a name that I find extremely amusing. Having to write down the word ‘Poots’ in my film notes continues to entertain throughout the rest of the film.

Poots, Poots, Poots, Poots, Poots, Poots

Poots, Poots, Poots, Poots, Poots, Poots

Jesse spends a large part of his dialogue scenes trying to bone Imogen with his eyes as the script coming out of his gob is atrocious. Deadman Pete shows support by having terrible lines too… also to remind us that he is a dead man.

They manage to sell the car but then Stark goes all Back to the Future on Pinkman and tricks him into a race that can only go badly, as we are less than 30 minutes into the film.

For a reason that can only be explained as Deadman Pete fulfilling his vision destiny, Stark decides that they need to race in ultra-fast rare cars and that Pete should join them. Even though they are super expensive vehicles and the race is only supposed to be between Stark and Pinkman, the villain decides it would be a great to also include the one person who has a permanent target hovering over them.

So the cars go really fast and trash a bunch of traffic, clearly endangering civilians but this doesn’t seem to bother any of them at all. And the cars go really, really fast and Stark manages to turn Deadman Pete and his car into a flaming wreck so that (1) he can win the race, and (2) so that Pinkman can do one of those crying scenes where shit comes out of his mouth and nose.

Pinkman crying

Apparently, none of the civilians that were involved in the automobile carnage noticed that there were three cars involved (they were that fast). None of the detectives bothered to look at the tyre marks on the road or note the fact that there are no marks on Pinkman’s car, and therefore decide that Pinkman should go to jail for Deadman Pete’s inability to avoid his destiny.

Skip two years ahead and Pinkman gets out of jail on parole. Imogen Poots shows up to collect him with the go-faster stripes car and they decide to race across the country for… well, it isn’t really clear why but I guess it was to win some cars by coming first in an illegal race called ‘De Leon’. This seems to involve upsetting as many police as possible as they go, so why, when Pinkman is on parole and violating said parole? That also seems to be a little vague other than to give Batman a rubber chubby.

Poots and Pinkman have a moment where they almost cry while they reminisce about Pete even though Poots only knew Deadman for about five minutes. They also call up one of their buddies to get the posse back together (Ralph Maccio or something). They tell him to quit his job. He gets so excited about how fast the go-faster stripes car is that he strips naked in the office and molests a female co-worker.

That scene is pretty nonsensical – but it gets worse.

The team commit some more crimes and Jesse does a big-ass jump that causes Poots to spontaneously orgasm. There is a weird scene to do with refuelling that makes no sense and afterwards Imogen points out over the radio how Jesse must be innocent in Pete’s death via an argument that makes it sound like he is completely guilty.

Deadman Pete’s sister checks some files that are randomly stored on Stark’s computer: photos that he took and then kept, showing the car that killed the original DMP. Meanwhile Pinkman and Poots get attacked by Nebraskan cops and I hear an English woman refer to the first floor of a building as the second floor. My respect for her dropped immediately.

The dynamic duo do this flirty thing where they swap places in the car like they are Charlie Sheen and Kristy Swanson. It is meant to be this warm moment but it is undermined by the film’s sudden implication that she is this giggly girl who can barely understand a steering wheel, when only an hour ago she was cracking wise about engines and drove the car to meet Pinkman in the first place.

Yeah, this film exists

Yeah, this film exists.

Not content to rip off one scene from a film about driving cars the film then stages a bizarre attack that is straight out of Death Race 2000. Fortunately a helicopter shows up and one of Pinkman’s ethnic friends rescues them. Afterwards they show up in San Francisco because there needed to be some trams in the film.

Stark and Pinkman spar, and by spar I mean that they deliver something that a really nerdy screenwriter thought was awesome but really sucks. The only way that it could have been improved is if the two of them had started making out.

Now kiss

Now kiss.

Pinkman gets in the go-faster stripes car and it gets hit by a truck. Poots is relegated to a hospital bed and then Deadman Pete’s Sister shows up to give Jesse the location of the car that killed her brother so that Pinkman can race it against Stark.

So, to clarify, they raced across the country to collect his car-fixing crew and race so that they could get revenge and prove Jesse’s innocence. Except they trash their car, don’t fix it with the team and instead of taking the car (that admittedly doesn’t really prove anything but wait for it) that proves the villain’s presence at the event of DMP’s death to the police, they decide to put it in a race that might get it destroyed.

Sorry. Getting back to it, Jesse and Poots make out in the hospital for a bit before he goes off for his big race.

The racing starts with the cops deciding to jeopardise their own cars and the lives of the racers (on an empty road no less). Proving how much of a video game movie it is (and also ignoring the fact that the winnings from the race are the other cars in the competition) the drivers start running each other off the road as well.

At the culmination Stark takes himself out of the race. Pinkman hesitates and then drives back, seeming to have completely forgotten that this is the guy who stole his original girlfriend, killed his friend and sent him to jail. Instead of letting Stark burn in a flaming wreck, he rescues him and says ‘this is for Pete’ before punching him.

Pinkman then surrenders to the police in a shot that looks the ‘Don’t Cry’ video by Guns’n’Roses.

THERE'S A heaven above you BABEEEEEE!

THERE’S A heaven above you BABEEEEEE!

The car is impounded as evidence and it is implied that Stark goes to jail. The film skips to 175 days later when Pinkman gets out of prison, again. He hooks up with Poots and they leave to be together happily ever after.

Except… if they had managed to get Stark convicted on completely circumstantial evidence (given that no one saw the third car and the cops didn’t seem to give a shit about the tyre marks around the accident itself), then it is unlikely they would have been able to prove more than the original offence, which was two years for Pinkman.

So after all of this, he ended up doing two and a half years in contrast to the actual perpetrator who got two years, and the race he won generated no money because all the cars got trashed. To boot the customer car he borrowed (the one with the go-faster stripes) to travel across the country in was destroyed. I imagine he was out of pocket on that as well.
At least he got Poots?

Poots, Poots, Poots, Poots, Poots, Poots

Poots, Poots, Poots, Poots, Poots, Poots