It’s amazing that it’s taken this long for another studio to exploit the success of the “Fast and Furious” franchise with a racing movie of its own, but considering that Electronic Arts’ “Need for Speed” video game series (from which the film gets its name) predates the adventures of Dominic Toretto and Brian O’Connor by several years, you can hardly blame DreamWorks for wanting a piece of the pie. Casting Aaron Paul, hot off his Emmy-winning role on “Breaking Bad,” as the leading man was a surefire way to drum up interest, but it was ultimately a wasted effort, because “Need for Speed” has so many other problems that finding the right actor should have been the least of Scott Waugh’s concerns.
Paul plays Tobey Marshall, a small-town mechanic who moonlights as an illegal street racer. When the debt starts piling up at the garage that he inherited from his late father, Tobey is handed a lifeline by former rival Dino Brewster (Dominic Cooper), who hires Tobey and his crew to finish building a custom Shelby Mustang worth millions. But after Dino’s ego is bruised and he challenges Tobey to a race to prove his superiority, one of Tobey’s friends is killed in the process, landing him in prison while Dino gets away scot-free. Several years later, Tobey is released from jail and ready to exact his revenge, but in order to do so, he needs a car capable of competing in the top secret, invite-only race called the DeLeon, where he knows Dino will be. Teaming up with the gearhead daughter (Imogen Poots) of the man who purchased the Shelby, the pair embarks on a race against the clock to get from New York to San Francisco in time for the event, all while evading the various law enforcement authorities chasing them.