Five Things to Expect From Aaron Paul's "Need for Speed"

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Fresh from prison, a street racer who was framed by a wealthy business associate joins a cross country race with revenge in mind. His ex-partner, learning of the plan, places a massive bounty on his head as the race begins.
Photo Credit: Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
January 21st, 2014

"Breaking Bad" star Aaron Paul's new movie, "Need for Speed," hits theaters on March 14, 2014. After six seasons on the hit TV show, Paul has consciously broken from character and accepted roles in movies from the far ends of the spectrum – including the lead in this new film. While many movies have successfully turned into hit multi-player games, "Need for Speed" is just the opposite – a big screen film based on a popular EA game series. Ahead of the movie's spring opening, fans are speculating on just what is likely to unfold on the big screen.

Car enthusiasts will love seeing the first 2015 Ford Mustang make its debut in "Need for Speed." It's unsurprising that such a beautiful vehicle would take center stage in this film; previous speed-based movies like those in the "Fast and Furious" franchise also relied on coveted muscle cars. The positioning of the car in this film may bring to mind other car-centric movies, like "Gone in 60 Seconds" and "Drive." Adding to the all-American appeal of the Mustang are the down-home locales used for shooting, including various locations in Alabama and Georgia. The main character is a blue-collar good old boy whose background and passions are designed to appeal to film fans in middle America.

Moviegoers who are expecting lots of live-action shots versus scenes clearly enhanced by computer-generated imagery will probably not be disappointed by "Need for Speed." Aaron Paul spent quite a bit of time preparing for his role by attending a stunt driving school. The movie's producers wanted to ensure that the scenes were scripted and shot as realistically as possible. Paul didn't shy away from taking the wheel instead of the cadre of stunt drivers who are usually hired to perform in these types of films. Early trailers show very real emotions cross Paul's face as he grips the wheel and drives with the flair of a true racer. It is not likely to take much suspension of disbelief for viewers to forget about Aaron Paul as a person while watching him truly transform into the character of Tobey Marshall.

Another reassurance that the racing scenes in this movie will be nothing short of spectacular is that the director, Scott Waugh, is a former stuntman. Between Paul's preparation, Waugh's direction and the overall design of the scenes, fans will be at the edges of their seats every time the cars rev up. Waugh also directed "Act of Valor," a film that received praise for its realism and exciting action-packed scenes. The financial success of "Act of Valor," despite its mixed critical reviews, shows that Waugh can captivate an audience, which he's sure to prove again with "Need for Speed."

Dominic Cooper fills the role of Dino, Paul's former associate turned enemy in "Need for Speed," and is expected to perform admirably. He's no stranger to bad-boy roles and will provide a great counterpoint to Paul's out-for-revenge character. The rest of the supporting actors demonstrate the excellent casting decisions made for this film, including Michael Keaton, Imogen Poots and Dakota Johnson as Paul's on-screen love interest. The interaction between Johnson and Paul will be especially interesting to watch. Johnson, cast as the lead in 2015's "50 Shades of Grey," will likely bring a far less sexy persona to this film but is still expected to entice both fans and Paul with her performance.

The actual plot of "Need for Speed" follows a familiar formula – good guy gone somewhat rogue to get revenge against bad guy. Fans shouldn't expect the film to play out tired scenes or story lines despite a formulaic framework. The lineup of characters in "Need for Speed" will ensure that the movie is fresh. The producers have emphasized that this is nowhere near a "Fast and Furious" ripoff, so it would not be surprising if they took great pains to ensure that during the filming and editing processes. With the might of DreamWorks behind this production, no expense was spared during production. Total filming costs are estimated at $66 million. From a not-yet-released vehicle to exclusive filming sites, "Need for Speed" balances a big budget against big expectations.

It is impossible to predict the reaction that a film is going to receive prior to its release. However, the combination of an awesome vehicle, an excellent lead, a terrific supporting cast, an experienced director and an exciting plot are all likely to keep "Need for Speed" moviegoers entranced from the start to the very end.