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March 14, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

Studio publicists have carefully avoided mention of the fact that Need to Speed is based on a videogame by that name. Their reluctance to do so probably stems from the fact that, with the possible sole exception of the Lara Croft iteration, videogames to movies have had a terrible track record. If audiences side with critics on Need to Speed, this one may be no exception. Most critics seem to agree that watching the movie is like watching someone else play a videogame. They also seem to agree that it’s a poor imitation of the Fast & Furious films. Indeed, Betsy Sharkey in the Los Angeles Times begins her review with the admonition: “It’s no Fast & Furious.” She goes on: “In trying for the vicarious varoom of the street-racing video game that inspired it, and no doubt dreaming of Fast success, Speed clocks in at a long two-plus hours and falls painfully short.” Claudia Puig in USA Today is troubled by the film’s “glorification of street racing and its failure to address the collateral damage” that often occurs. “Legions of innocent drivers are plowed into and forced off the road as the characters zoom around, barreling against traffic on suburban highways. When viewers find themselves musing about the fate of faceless drivers, it’s proof positive that the main characters are hardly worthy of interest,” she writes. Ty Burr in the Boston Globe makes a similar point: “If you know your muscle cars and supercars and don’t care too much about other people, the movie will be your bottle of Yahoo, so pardon the rest of us if we look on these self-absorbed camshaft brats and wish them a speedy flat tire.” And Joe Morgenstern in the Wall Street Journal sums up: “Need for Speed rides roughshod over morality. But A.O. Scott in the New York Times suggests that it’s not a critics job to deal with such matters. He concludes: “Need for Speed is dumb and loud and sometimes technically impressive, which means that it is successful on its own terms.” And Michael Phillips in the Chicago Tribune can’t be bothered to get worked up over the film’s script either. He describes the movie as an “exuberantly stupid time-killer.” He goes on: “When they get out to argue, or seethe, it’s uh-oh time.”