I’ve always been something of a casual observer to the …
Aaron Paul stars as Tobey Marshall, a street racer framed for murder by Dino Brewster, Dominic Cooper’s rich racer villain. Rather than prove his innocence or reveal Brewster’s villainy, Tobey’s plan is to beat Brewster in an underground street race hosted by Michael Keaton’s Monarch, a retired racer who sadly does not live in a giant flying cocoon staffed by comical henchmen. With the police and Brewster’s bounty hunters in pursuit, Tobey must race across the country to the starting line.
The new film Need for Speed does not deserve its lead actor, as he proves in a number of the dramatic moments. Even those audience members not familiar with Aaron Paul’s outstanding work on the AMC drama Breaking Bad would likely notice the straining-at-the-seams emotional style he brings to his character here, which is somewhat unexpected in a movie that essentially wants to kickstart its own The Fast and the Furious-esque franchise. Those movies, like Need for Speed, boast plenty of pedal-to-the-metal street racing, outrageous stunts, beautiful women, more racing, more stunts, and so on. Need for Speed, however, tries too hard to be a real, grounded story of revenge and hate, too often tippling over into melodrama.
Breaking Bad is not a series generally noted for its lightness of tone, but Vince Gilligan and his collaborators have always managed to wring humor and quirk out of what would seem to be a hopelessly grim set of story beats. That’s what makes “Granite State,” the series’ super-sized penultimate episode, so hard to watch. Save for a few passing moments of sewer-downhill-from-the-gallows “humour,” “Granite State” is a relentlessly bleak hour of TV, wherein even the glimpses of “hope” are really just (in all likelihood) presaging more carnage.