"Need For Speed" Is a New Star-Studded Basic Cable Classic


Need for Speed was released on March 14, 2014. Why randomly mention it in July 2017? Because at some point you’re going to randomly stumble across this movie on basic cable, watch it and love it for its ridiculousness.

Coming off the end of Breaking Bad, Need for Speed was supposed to be Aaron Paul’s Fast & Furious-esque franchise. Instead, critics destroyed it and it bombed domestically. It was a 39 on Metacric and a very rotten 23% on Rotten Tomatoes. With a reported budget of $66 million budget, the film flopped with a $17.8 million opening weekend, losing to modern classics Mr. Peabody & Sherman and 300: Rise of an Empire – both in their second weeks. It totaled just $43.5 million in the US. The dream of the franchise was dead. However…

Need for Speed made over $200 million worldwide thanks to brand recognition. It was so successful that multiple companies actually agreed to help finance a sequel in 2015. Regrettably, that never happened. Which sucks because Need for Speed is actually a kickass car chase movie with an awesome cast. That probably comes as a surprise for the many, many, MANY people who have never seen it. Here, take a peek.

The first 30 seconds of the trailer look super dark. The second 30 seconds of the trailer contain a yo momma joke. The third 30 seconds feature Michael Keaton and Muse. This movie has everything! Well, everything but Muse. There is no Muse in Need for Speed.

I first stumbled on Need For Speed on Showtime back in 2015. I proceeded to stumble on it approximately a thousand times on Showtime through 2016 and then again when it hit basic cable on USA. Now it’s on Syfy because any movie that features a Kid Cudi in a military prison watching a top secret car race on an iPad being held by a guard obviously takes place in some sort of alternate universe.

Yes, Kid Cudi, a.ka., Scot Mescudi, made his feature film debut in NFS. As you can see, he was pretty awesome.

(Check out the full Need for Speed infographic from 2014 by Hevan Chan on SI.com.)

As for the rest of the cast Imogen Poots is the fish-out-of-water in the secret street race world who also has the power to purchase million dollar cars for whatever her job is. At one point Paul makes fun of her for not being a “right seater,” but then never explains what riding in the passenger seat of a street race entails besides wearing a seat belt.

NFS also features Dakota Johnson in the same year that 50 Shade of Grey came out and Michael Keaton the same year that Birdman hit theaters. Keaton plays a character that might have a name, but I’ve never caught it in 500 viewings. He is a recluse who hosts a satellite radio show from the top of a light house and puts on an underground street race called “De Leon.” It’s unclear how he decides who gets to enter this race, but having an expensive car helps. Also, if you have a rivalry with another driver because he killed your brother, that also helps.

In addition to Paul, Keaton and Johnson, the movie features Rami Malek before Mr. Robot and Dominic Cooper before Preacher. (Are you watching Preacher? Go watch Preacher after you watch Need for Speed.) Here’s the scene where Malek quits his office job. It’s so dumb it’s amazing. It’s also one of the more grounded scenes.

How about that soundtrack, huh? There is no Muse, but that’s Aloe Blacc covering “Back in the Saddle.”  That’s something that needed to happen! They should have stuck for Muse.The film is full of songs that make you think, “Why?” There’s Steve Miller, Linkin Park, and covers of “All Along the Watchtower” and “Fortunate Son.”

If any movie deserves a second life on cable, it’s this one. Partly because of the cast. Partly because it’s incredibly rewatchable.