Need for Speed (2014): Aaron Paul’s Video Game Film

Aaron Paul as Tobey Marshall in Need for Speed
The 2014 film Need for Speed could be seen as a film made to cash in on Aaron Paul’s Breaking Bad popularity or an effort to capitalize on the video game of the same name. While the movie did make a decent profit, production costs were $66 million and the worldwide box office came to $203 million, critics panned the movie almost universally. The film’s biggest crime seems to have been, apart from starring television actor Paul, not being 2 Fast 2 Furious or part of that long running franchise.

Directed by Scott Waugh, stunt coordinator extraordinaire turned director, and starring Aaron Paul, Brit actors Imogen Poots and Dominic Cooper (Cooper is currently working steadily as Tony Stark’s daddy in Agent Carter on ABC) along with Mr Robot‘s Rami Malik and pre – 50 Shades of Grey Dakota Johnson, the movie is an action film based, very loosely on the video game and features fast cars, a little humor, and some thrills and spills along the way. Michael Keaton has a splendid cameo as Monarch, the former Formula 1 racer with a dickey heart who sponsors the De Leon race.

Paul plays Tobey Marshall, a racer who yearns to win the De Leon and whose small cadre of friends stick by him and help out in his late father’s business. Cooper is Dino Brewster, professional race car driver, rich guy and all around heel. The two do not get on, mainly because Dino stole Tobey’s girl, Anita (Johnson) whose little brother Pete (Harrison Gilbertson) is Marshall’s best friend. After taking a contract to modify a car for Brewster, a Mustang that is later sold to Julia Maddon’s boss for a cool $2.7 million, Dino challenges Tobey and Pete to a race and the heel kills Pete with a pit maneuver during the race.

Tobey is framed for the crime and put away for manslaughter. When he gets out, Marshall vies to get Monarch’s attention and get an invite to the De Leon where he wants to beat Brewster once and for all. Maddon joins Tobey as they drive across country with a bounty placed on their heads by Dino who wants to stop Marshall from entering the race.

That Aaron Paul has got some enormous acting chops goes without question. Just the fact that he held his own against master craftsman Bryan Cranston for the whole of Breaking Bad is proof positive that the man can act. Critics who had their long knives poised to sink into Aaron’s performance in this video game action racer were doing so because he dared to leave the small box. Had they paid attention, these “experts” would have noticed that Paul gave his usual meticulous performance.

Granted the storyline itself had some pretty glaring plot holes and Poots manages to look younger each time she is on screen, and there is not nearly enough Michael Keaton, but…

Malik shows just how he got the part of Elliot in Mr Robot, Poots showed just why she should be in more films and Cooper made a impressively nasty villain. The Brit actor showed just how to make the bad guy a truly nasty bit of stuff and that, in turn, helped to make Paul’s hero look even better.

Waugh did a good job in his second feature length film as director and the film looks great. Everything felt right and while not as glossy or OTT as the 2F2F franchise films, the stunts delivered the requisite amount of oohs and ahhs and made all the scenes crackle with excitement.

Certainly Need for Speed feels a little like a red headed step child to the “Furious” saga but overall, the film delivers. This is a 4 out of 5 star film, earning an extra star for the casting of Aaron Paul and Dominic Cooper. It is Streaming on Showtime at the moment and worth watching despite its rather long runtime of over two hours.

Mr Robot: Hello Friend USA Network Equals Falling in Love Again

Still from Mr Robot with Rami Malek
With all the substandard shows on offer across the plethora of television networks, the appearance of Mr. Robot and its premiere episode of Hello Friend on the USA equals falling in love again. This first look at the new series introduces viewers to Elliot, a gifted schizophrenic, who appears to have a bit of autism in his makeup, who works in cyber security by day and hacks users as a past time.

The hero of the piece, played by Rami Malik (Night of the Museum 1,2,3, Need for Speed) is all “deer in the headlights” wide-eyed and spacey. Not all the time, but at the start of the show his look is a bit disconcerting. Despite this socially inept man’s odd appearance and the fact that he is speaking to an invisible mate, Hello Friend, which is the excuse for Malik’s voice over narration of events, thoughts, and plot line directions; Elliot is likable and the audience are drawn to him. While in real life he could be a bit off putting, in the show the character works.

The computer whiz self-medicates by snorting morphine, which he obtains illegally from a “pusher” whom he sleeps with later on after indulging in some “pure Molly” with her. This is one of the more amusing moments in the show. The camera pans back from a close up of Elliot smoking to reveal the bare bottom of his dealer as she sleeps next to him. His line about not making decisions while high is delivered perfectly.

The plot, in the premiere segment, has a mysterious chap dressed in white paint-spattered blue jeans, a work coat and white baseball cap following Elliot around. Carrying a paper cup with change in it, the man (played by Christian Slater in yet another try at television) “bumps into” the computer tech expert several times before finally introducing himself, sort of.

The whole series revolves around a group of hackers whose aim is total anarchy through the mechanization of big conglomerate account tampering. The first step is taking down the E corporation, which Elliot refers to as “Evil Corporation” and each time the logo appears that is how it looks, Evil vs E. Nice touch.

The premiere episode is helmed by none other than The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo director Niels Arden Oplev. This goes a long way toward explaining why the show works so incredibly well. Fast paced, splendidly put together and perfectly photographed by Tim Ives, this first episode goes beyond brilliant in catching and keeping the viewer entertained throughout.

Rami Malek is brilliant as the young challenged man who wants to change the world, punish the wicked and free himself of his delusions. Christian Slater, in his role as Mr. Robot, appears to be almost a McGuffin in this series and as such does what he does best; play himself. Slater is always an infinite joy to watch in anything as he brings much to the table playing various versions of himself.

Portia Doubleday is not allowed to do much. Her character walks around with a “smacked arse” look stamped on her face and has abysmal taste in men. She is also Elliot’s best friend and has been since childhood. Angela does appear to have some romantic inclination towards her pal but does not act on it.

With one filming location at Coney Island, and who wouldn’t want to take their coffee break at a ferris wheel that still works, the show looks very in the “now.” With the plot and the way that Elliot sees the world of the Internet, Mr. Robot may become one of the best shows on television, beating Stitchers, Wayward Pines and Bates Motel as the new “must see TV.”

Mr. Robot premieres properly June 24 on USA network but can be seen now on the Internet. This is one new show to be excited about, it certainly got my pulse racing and made me fall in love with American television all over again.

Aaron Paul on Crack Video Goes Viral

Aaron Paul on Crack Video Goes Viral

Aaron Paul has been very busy promoting his new film Need for Speed and one of the things that has come from his many interviews is his appearance pre-Jessie Pinkman on The Price is Right where, as Paul says, he looks as though he is on crack; a video of Aaron’s short time on the show has gone viral. This week has been one of revelations from the 34 year-old actor and star of the iconoclastic television showBreaking Bad.