This movie was better than I thought it'd be. I'll admit, the introductory race didn't impress me at all - the race itself wasn't bad, but the acting; character expression was terrible. The black guy dead serious and then suddenly laughing soon after Toby's passed him? Doesn't make sense! The introductions seem planned but still aren't as satisfying as they could've been, and at the beginning you think it's clear that the movie will be as much about cars as about Toby and Anita getting back together... I guess not! What did Toby have against Dino anyway, until his brother gets killed? How did the feud start? Loose ends. In the first race, the cinematical movie music didn't feel suitable at all. There's a lot of joking going on, and I'm not sure I like how the whole story's turned into a spectator sport. Why can't there be a serious race without onlookers? Do we need to know that everyone knows exactly how it goes, at the moment it goes how it goes? Do we need their show of expression? That abundance of cheers and interference amidst the actual action: the race?
That said, the final race was awesome. Not just the filmography, the driving; the flawlessly staged crashes, but also the sceneries - it's like the classy NFS - Hot Pursuit 2 game come to life! The sceneries change rapidly. We're going through the forest, by the shore, over the rocks (the trip over the train tracks in the beginning is deja vu from a mixture of other NFS games - Underground and High Stakes the ones I recognize, though I'm sure they've fetched scenes from other games as well)... it's all just like how I remember it! What a kick of nostalgia! I wonder how long it took for them to find filming locations that could so perfectly convey that in-game atmosphere. And the cars aren't unlike, either.
It's not just one introductory and final race - there's a lot of eventful bonding and trouble of varied sorts until that point. With a girl. With the police. With bounty hunters. It skips past the trials and tribulations fast, though, and at times I feel like I'm missing out on the action, like the director chose to just flicker through these scenes so we would know what's going on, not so we would actually experience them. It's rushed. Too much, maybe? I think they could've skipped the bounty altogether: made it into something Dino arranged. With just one attempt, it feels like the bounty isn't taken seriously, that it maybe wasn't worth placing in the first place. The truck crashing into the picture was a nice one-time event though, a surprise and a crisis that turned the plot in the best (and worst) way possible.
The movie doesn't end perfectly, but it doesn't end badly either. There are inconsistencies, as if I fell asleep during parts of the voyage - much like the characters, but it was a fun ride and I'm glad I tagged along! Towards the end of the movie I'm pleasantly surprised to hear a Linkin Park track grow in the background, fade to jail, to credits... and to this review. It didn't always have the pace I'd expect from a movie with Speed in the title, but it was a good watch. Oh, the actors? They play their parts. I'm not sure Toby's the perfect fit, but he grows on you, and I'm glad Imogen Poots jumps in as a main character along the way. Good watch.
rated 3/5: not bad