First Look at Need for Speed Rivals: The Movie: The Script

Need for Speed 2

We didn’t think much of the Need for Speed film starring Aaron Paul when I wrote about it previously. Of course, demonstrating our inability to understand what the general public deem worthy of their money, the film has grossed $200 million worldwide.

A sequel has been greenlit to follow up on this success. It has been touted as the ‘Fast & the Furious: Tokyo Drift of the Need for Speed franchise’ by one insider, while another person close to the project said that the script was turning out ‘like a combination of What Dreams Might Come and The Machinist but with wicked ass cars’.

There has been mention that Darren Aronofsky (Noah, Black Swan) – currently taking a break from his gritty Police Academy reboot which appears to have a stalled because Steve Guttenberg is demanding more money – is set to helm the project if it gets off the ground.

Here at Arcadian Rhythms we were lucky enough to gain access to an early draft of the script, and have been allowed to go into some detail concerning plans for the film. For more info read on below the fold!

The film opens with an unnamed police officer (throughout the script he is referred to as ‘Nameless Cop’ or ‘NC’ for short) sitting in his patrol vehicle. He is “starring blankly” into the camera. A car whizzes past at high speed and without changing expression he gives chase. Here the script’s description is highly detailed in terms of water effects and the light bouncing off chrome finishes; there is an almost erotic tinge to the lines about wheels alternating between asphalt and dirt and the plumes of smoke erupting from the exhaust. The pursuit ends with Nameless Cop slamming the perpetrator off the road, through a guard rail and over a cliff. He pulls up his car and steps out only to see the wrecked car at the bottom of the cliff explode.

A radio call crackles to life and a “female voice – unknown” says “Great job, that’s another one detained! Head on home.”

The Nameless Cop drives back to the station – here the script emphasises the soundtrack, which is highly unusual in a film script – as a “throbbing, monotonous drum and bass track that is unremarkable in every way (please hire LTJ Bukem)” – to meet his captain.

The script directions state that the camera should remain focused on the cop throughout the scene whilst the captain remains offscreen. Here’s a sample of dialogue:

Captain: Congratulations on another job well done.

NC (frowns): But sir, I just killed a man.

Captain: No, you incapacitated him. Here, have a better car and new gadgets so that you are more able to incapacitate them.

NC: Surely I should be reprimanded not rewarded? It’s the seventeenth time this week that I have done this.

Captain: Nonsense. You’re keeping the roads safe.

Need for Speed Rivals car selection

The cop then returns home, which is a two-storey suburban building with a white picket fence and a barking dog audible in the background. He walks into his kitchen – his indifferent stare has returned – and is greeted by his wife (who is also permanently offscreen, at all times).

Her conversation is cheery while his responses are monosyllabic. The stage directions say that slowly but surely the conversation is drowned out by the same drum and bass music as the camera zooms in on the Nameless Cop’s expressionless face.

The music then cuts and the cop starts to talk:

NC: Honey, something isn’t right.

Patricia: What’s that?

NC: I got a promotion because I killed another guy.

Patricia: That’s great, sweety!

NC: No, this just seems to keep happening. I swear it is the same car and the same driver, over and over again.

Patricia: But that’s ridiculous?

NC: It all seems utterly pointless and empty. For all the cars and promotions all I seem to do is drive around aimlessly with little direction. What is the point?

Patricia: Nonsense!

After the argument is put to bed there follows about thirty minutes of planned ‘exposition’ during which more beautifully-described chase scenes all end with the Nameless Cop smashing the car he is pursuing until it flips and spins to a stop in a battered, unrecognisable husk. The writer is very clear that the same ‘throbbing, repetitive music’ is playing through all of these scenes. The description is also very precise in the number of revolutions the ruined vehicle makes before it comes to a stop. The way the car looks is always exactly the same – the script is also very clear on this – after which the same bodiless woman’s voice says “Great job that’s another one detained! Head on home.”

Need for Speed Rivals car crash

The final act of the film kicks off with a car chase (by this time, reading car chases had gotten pretty tedious and that seemed to be reflected in the main character too). This time, instead of the racer getting taken out, the cop ‘careens wildly into a tree and bursts into flames’.

Without explanation the script cuts to an interior scene, the Nameless Cop’s bedroom. The cop is sitting on a chair apparently unscathed. Patricia can vaguely be heard over the sound of drum and bass. The Nameless Cop finally starts to talk.

NC: You don’t understand; everything I do is utterly futile. It is just the same thing over and over. I feel nothing. Worse, that music never seems to stop.

Patricia: What music?

(Music stops; Nameless Cop looks around perturbed)

NC: I think I am losing my mind.

At this point the film ends.

As a first draft, I happen to think it is pretty strong. Most of the descriptions of vehicular carnage, complete with excruciating detail, are perfectly juxtaposed with the soullessness of the main character. For all the beauty of the chases and excitement that they are supposed to instil, it’s clear the Nameless Cop’s existence is a purgatorial one, in which he is doomed to repeat the same thing endlessly with no meaningful merit, reward or resolution.

The feats you see him accomplish are physically impossible but after the third time you’ve seen them you are as indifferent as the protagonist himself.

In closing, I look forward to seeing further development in the film and feel this is a brave direction in which to take this potential series of films. I also feel that it is the cinematic rendition that the game of the same name deserves.