Adapted from the computer game of the same name – a fact alone that sounds a fairly deafening alarm bell, and sure enough we witness a concept that is fine on a console but does not work at all on the big-screen. It was always going to be a dubious attempt with the Fast and Furious franchise already well established within the niche market of motorhead fuel injected action, and doubtless the makers here were hopeful of a franchise of their own, with only bad acting, poor scriptwriting and tensionless directing standing in their way.
The central character is Tobey Marshall (Aaron Paul) who is of course the most talented driver ever to have lived but for some reason is working in a garage in financial arrears, forcing him into the sphere of influence of bad guy Dino Brewster (Dominic Cooper), who despite being evil to the core is remarkably successful and is the reigning driving champion, but deep down he suspects Tobey could beat him. Inevitably juvenile egos clash and a street race takes place between the two and Little Pete (Harrison Gilbertson), one of Tobey’s good guy buddies, and we see them dodging oncoming traffic at a million miles per hour in flashy sports cars as they heedlessly drive down the wrong side of the road until bad guy Dino commits a dastardly deed and sends Little Pete careering off to a spectacular crash and immediate cremation. GOOD RIDDANCE. If they are going to drive like madmen in public and put the lives of hundreds of innocent people at risk then, frankly, they all deserve to die as far as I’m concerned and the intention to gain the audiences sympathy at this point is woefully misplaced, plus Lil Pete was so completely artless and innocent it was entirely obvious he was about to splattered all over the place anyway.
Bad guy Dino pegs it when he realises he might have made a boo-boo, leaving Tobey to take the blame and go to jail as unfortunately for him it seems his lawyer was too lazy to interview the many countless witnesses they almost killed who could testify to there being three cars, and they were going too fast for any cameras on their journey to have recorded them. Eventually he gets out and so begins his long and very tedious journey to right this wrong as well as try and win a highly secretive race that’s in fact so secretive all the security forces and police know exactly where it is and try to stop it, just so he can rub it in bad guy Dino’s face that yes, he is in fact the better driver as well as being the innocent guy (though he also deserves to die) who will somehow prove his innocence. Oh, and bad guy Dino is banging Tobey’s ex-girlfriend, because they obviously felt they didn’t have enough clichés in there already.
The action isn’t completely dire, but it’s very run of the mill and the way the camera continually cuts from a first person view to a shot of the driver from around the gear stick, constantly destroys any real involvement or tension in the driving scenes. Morally bankrupt central character behaviour continues to the point of lunacy, the supporting characters are tragic and poorly delivered, Aaron Paul acts throughout like a grown angry baby, and really the only things of any value in the entire film are Michael Keaton’s supporting role as a radio disc jockey and race organiser, and Imogen Poots with her infectious smile and a stunt that she is obviously performing herself. Alas, neither of these two actors are enough to give this any appeal other than to perhaps undiscerning teenage boys with nothing better to do.