“Need For Speed” is what hap- pens when you try to make “Fast and Furious” on a smaller budget. It’s also what happens when you take out the flash and add in more melodrama.

It stars Aaron Paul, fresh off his run as Jesse Pinkman in “Breaking Bad,” as Tobey Marshall, a mechanic and street racer who gets convicted for a crime he didn’t commit after selling a rare Shelby Mustang car to a wealthy English woman named Julia, played by Imogen Poots.

After being released from jail, he risks violating his parole by taking a cross-country road trip with Julia in the Mustang to compete in a street race his friend said he would win one day. His friend had visions.

I guess that means he was sup- posed to be psychic or something, right?

For a movie based on a video game series about racing, there really isn’t much of that going on.

Instead, we get an often-dull character piece based in a story rife with loopholes, and injected with a few unnecessary, awkward attempts at comic relief. Scenes drag out, cliches are rampant, and the tone borders on being inconsistent.

There are, however, two saving graces for this movie. One of them is actors Aaron Paul, Imogen Poots and Scott Mescudi.

Even though Paul spends much of the film working on his best Clint Eastwood impersonation, he quickly reminds audiences why he’s one of the most intense young mainstream actors working today.

He has no trouble translating his

emotions on screen, which causes some sequences to be more powerful than they need to be.

Poots takes on the female com- panion role, which causes her to become the usual damsel-in-distress; however, she proves to be the kind of actress that could hold her own if she had the chance to command a scene or play the protagonist in another film.

Mescudi, better known as rapper Kid Cudi, stars as the mischievous, plane-flying sidekick to Paul’s char- acter.

He doesn’t have the chance to fully show his range of acting capabili- ties, but does use what screentime he has to show that he can play a convinc- ing character on screen.

The other saving grace is the action and racing sequences. While most movies try to create action on the biggest scale possible, director Scott Waugh goes for a more intimate ap-

proach, bringing you as close to the action and racer’s emotions as possible. They feel like a homemade reen- actment of “Need For Speed” games

filmed on Go Pros.
The sequences are on a smaller

scale and don’t result in a crazy amount of property damage, but they are still pretty entertaining to watch on a big screen.

This is one of Electronic Arts’ first forays into adapting their own proper- ties to film. After being beat at the box office by “Mr. Peabody and Sherman” and “300: Rise of an Empire,” which were both released the week before “Speed,” they ought to look at some of their other video games to bring to life.

Apparently, “Dead Space” is cur- rently in the works, so we’ll see how that goes.

For now, Waugh’s critical and commercial letdown will have to do. At least the cars look cool.

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