When a car-chase flick opens with its main characters watching the Steve McQueen classic Bullitt
, it had better deliver the goods. Luckily, Need for Speed
makes good on its promise of high-octane spectacle, putting Breaking Bad
star Aaron Paul in the driver's seat of a tricked-out Mustang. He's undertaking a 240-mph, cross-country quest to beat his douchebag rival (Dominic Cooper) in an illegal street race. The film offers up a steady stream of revving engines and amazing stunts—largely executed without computer assistance—that would do McQueen proud. Unfortunately, director Scott Waugh is also saddled with telling a story, which is a dubious task for a film based on a wildly popular series of video games with no plot. Screenwriter George Gatins comes up with the simplest excuse possible to crash cars—it's a standard honor and revenge narrative—but at 130 minutes, the film runs out of gas just when the third act kicks in. Paul, henceforth to be known as Aaron Paul Walker, glowers effectively enough behind the wheel as logic and physics are gleefully ignored. Need for Speed
could have been a great little B-movie throwback if it knew where to slam on the brakes. Instead, it blows a flat about 90 minutes in and idles to the finish line.