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For many years, gamers have been wondering what it would be like to see a Need for Speed live-action movie. Who could star in such an action-packed movie with the right kind of devil-may-care attitude but still provide the role with the weight it needs? Who could direct such a monumental effort where speed and stunts are the name of the game? Who could write a screenplay that distinguishes the film from modern-day race car movies? Multiple gaming studios have developed Need for Speed games, but there hasn’t been any momentum for a movie, until now.
The writing on any movie is one of the keystones of its success or failure. Without a well-written and entertaining story, the moviegoing audience is going to either hate the movie or sleep through it. For a Need for Speed movie, the high-octane fun has to have a well-executed story to go with it. Using a typical coming of age story draws a younger crowd but alienates the adults who actually drive in real life.
For writers, Need for Speed has John Gatins, George Gatins and George Nolfi. For those unfamiliar with any of their work, John and George are brothers. John has written and worked on films such as ‘Flight’, ‘Real Steel’ and ‘Coach Carter’. In particular ‘Coach Carter’ is an exceptional effort in screenwriting since both adults and teens could relate to its triumph-over-adversity type of story, something that Need for Speed may need if it wants to succeed.
The lesser known of the Gatins, George has only worked sporadically as an executive producer, and his last film was 2010′s ‘She’s Out of My League’ starring Jake Baruchel. This particular movie was a fresh and elegant spin on a classic beauty-and-the-nerd dating scenario. Hopefully, both brothers will bring creative and sympathetic writing to make the Need for Speed movie more than just a fast and cheap thrill ride.
George Nolfi is best known for writing such notable films as ‘The Adjustment Bureau’, ‘Oceans Twelve’, ‘The Bourne Ultimatum’ and ‘Timeline’. He is also credited with directing and producing ‘The Adjustment Bureau’ as well. In all cases, regardless of Matt Damon’s performances in some of these films, each of Nolfi’s movies achieve either critical or cultural recognition. Each of them has a unique taste that makes them stand out from the rest as original pieces, even if they are part of a series. Nolfi’s involvement will hopefully work in favor of the Need for Speed film to give it added weight and originality in the minds of moviegoers who might be looking for a different take on a racing movie.
Scott Waugh has done stunt work for movies such as ‘Mr. and Mrs. Smith’, ‘Torque’, ‘Biker Boyz’ and ‘Bad Boys II’. In each of these films, there were chase-scenes and extensive stunt work, and this gave Waugh ample opportunity to coordinate the stunts. It makes sense that he would eventually progress into directing.
Waugh directed 2012′s ‘Act of Valor’ and was also one of its producers, so he is certainly putting his hands back in the pot after the mediocre performance of his first big movie. Many critics slammed it for being a knock-off of the popular Call of Duty video game series, and while that is not a great comparison, for a Need for Speed movie it is perfectly acceptable. Gamers have always loved the action in Need for Speed games and Waugh can certainly do gaming adaptations if his earlier work is any indication.
When racing fans found out in the fall of 2012 that “Breaking Bad” co-star Aaron Paul had been tapped for the lead role of Tobey Marshall, a glimmer of hope formed in their minds that this movie might be good despite the popular belief that movies based on games are terrible. With the exception of Resident Evil, most video-game films are filled with clichéd acting and do not live up to the reputation of the original game. There is hope that, in addition to Paul, Michael Keaton, Dominic Cooper of ‘Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter’ fame and even Kid Cudi will get in on the action.
Aaron Paul’s inclusion in the film as its main star is a turn of good fortune for racing fans. Paul, having won two Emmys for his role as Jesse Pinkman, the ‘right hand’ of drug lord Heisenberg is perfect for the role. He is known for playing underdogs; characters who are underestimated and betrayed only to come back alive and kicking. Paul’s role in Need for Speed can lend the film that triumphant underdog feeling while also being a smart and suspenseful journey.
When combined, the writing, directing and acting could produce a great movie. When added to what is sure to be a great soundtrack and the sound from high-revving engines, this has the potential to be a great movie that has both weight and cultural impact. The combination of all these factors means this movie will likely be more about character development and less about racing across the country.
Image Courtesy of Michael Spencer