How Will the ‘Need For Speed’ Video Game Franchise Influence the Movie?

By on April 19, 2013

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The venerable racing game franchise “Need for Speed” has kept up its high-octane momentum for the better part of two decades, and it’s now racing to the silver screen. Beginning with “Need for Speed” in 1994 to the recent “Need for Speed: Most Wanted” in 2012, the franchise has accrued a legion of fans over the years, a fact that no doubt contributed to the movie’s creation. Let’s take a look at how the video game franchise may have inspired the movie, which is set to open spring 2014.

Plot

The “Need for Speed” franchise has never been heavy on story. Cars are the stars of the show. The lack of plot means that screenwriter John Gatins, according to NeedForSpeed.com, isn’t confined to reproducing a ready-made plot for the movie adaptation. However, there is one exception to the paper-thin stories usually present in “Need for Speed” games, one that the movie may be inspired by—that exception is, “Need for Speed: The Run,” arguably the most story-driven game in the franchise. The protagonist, Jack, is in debt to the worst kinds of people, spurring cops and criminals to relentlessly give chase. Jack’s answer to his money woes lies in winning a $25 million grand prize in an underground race, aptly named the Run, across the country.

The plot for the movie version of “Need for Speed” hits similar notes. Newly released from prison, street racer Tobey Marshal (Aaron Paul) joins a cross-country race to take revenge on the wealthy businessman who put him behind bars. Once his ex-partner discovers the plan, he places a bounty on Marshal’s head, according to an IMDB synopsis. Michael Keaton, Imogen Poots, Dominic Cooper and Kid Cudi also star.

Photo by Flickr user yellowblade67

Vehicles & Customization

As the release date of Need for Speed approaches, expect to see a slurry of auto advertisements, using the film as a promotion. Just like “The Fast and the Furious” and “Transformers” franchises before it, the film will likely be packed with the newest cars. “Need for Speed: Most Wanted” allowed players to drive 41 vehicles from a Lancia Delta to the revered Aston Martin V12 Vantage, according to IGN.com. It’s probable gamers and moviegoers will see some of the same cars from the video game make appearances in the film.

On “Need for Speed: Most Wanted,” some fans created mods introducing motorcycles to the otherwise all four-wheeled vehicle roster. Continuing the NFS tradition, gamers could also customize motorcycle parts such as rims and bike colors. It would be refreshing to see the filmmakers add motorcycles to the movie adaptation, and perhaps other less expected modes of transport. It also remains to be seen if the filmmakers will incorporate NFS’ penchant for customization into the film’s story—or even as one of the character’s hobbies.

Locales

Throughout its long and continual run, the various NFS games have taken players to a plethora of real and fictional cities across the world. The earlier titles took place in real-world settings such as Chicago and the Australian Outback, and gradually moved into fictional metropolises like Olympic City and Fairhaven. If the movie version does indeed include a cross-country race, the filmmakers have the entire continental U.S. at their disposal. According to IMDB, there will indeed be eclectic locations: Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah, Atlanta, San Francisco, Detroit and Manhattan are confirmed as filming locations.

Guest post written by Linda Banks

Although Linda writes about many subjects, her greatest passion is film. She has seen over 200 films this year alone.

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