I immediately did what I was told and although my job may have just been to push an air conditioner around the desert so a particular starlet wouldn't sweat too much in the desert I was rewarded with many prizes.
- I got to meet Aaron Paul
- I witnessed a helicopter lift a car and fly it over the Bonneville Salt Flats
- I got to see the unreleased and unannounced 2015 Ford Mustang GT
- I talked to Shane Hurlbut about how I played poker with him at NAB 2010
- I got a per diem because I was technically an "out of town" worker
- I got my own room at the Peppermill Hotel and Casino which I stole toilet paper from
I've now seen this movie and it's exactly what you think it's going to be. Fast cars, police chases and just enough plot to keep you going. Although it wasn't the best move I've seen (far from it) I'd like to share a bit about why I liked it so much.
1. It's a great car movie. For fans of Bullitt, Gone in 60 Seconds, Vanishing Point etc, this movie really delivers. The Fast and Furious franchise has evolved into an action franchise with a decent ensemble cast but no longer seems to be about cars. This doesn't mean they are bad films, just no longer good car films. I'm all about Vin Diesel and The Rock kicking ass, but I miss sequences like Paul Walker's Supra smoking that black Ferrari on PCH. Need for Speed brings those moments back to the big screen.
2. They don't make movies like this anymore. Earlier in the year I participated in a workshop taught by SNL DP Alex Buono. The first big film he ever worked on was Twister which he admitted wasn't a spectacular movie but nevertheless he missed it because they simply do not make movies like that anymore. What he meant was that a film about a giant tornado was made with a huge amount of practical effects due to the limited capabilities of CG at the time. That scene where Bill Paxton's truck is being bombarded by hail was filmed with a giant wood chipper shooting ice at his moving truck. Those techniques add a certain amount of realism to the performances, which are also present in Need for Speed. The powerslides, jumps and the aforementioned helicopter stunt were all real stunts. CGI is therefore used to enhance rather than to substitute and it shows.
3. There's no gratuitous sex. Usually car movies have scantily clad women everywhere and the lead characters find some reason to hook up. Need for Speed, however, doesn't fall into this trap. In this story there's no reason for the male and female lead characters to have sex, so they don't. This is just about a million times better than watching an awkward sex scene that's been added purely for the sake of itself. It makes the characters feel like human beings and not objects of the audience's voyeur.
4. This story takes its time. Need for Speed is 2 hours and 10 minutes long. That's not necessarily a long movie but in this day of reduced consumption I'm surprised the studio brass didn't demand Scott Waugh to cut 40 minutes out of it. The point is that 2 hours and 10 minutes is just enough time to tell the story, it never feels rushed and yet it never feels like its lagging either. Nothing needs to be added or subtracted.
Unfortunately this film performed quite poorly at the US box office which means it's unlikely we'll see a project like this again anytime soon. It'll be back to 90 minute action flicks with tons of CG and gratuitous boobs which seems to sell although personally it upsets me.
Take my opinions as they are. I'm probably quite biased as a fan of car culture and a long-time player of the Need for Speed video games. Not to mention the fact that I worked on this film.