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Dreamworks to Attempt a Need for Speed Movie

And this is the part where I put my foot down and demand that they include Razor Callahan.

If Dreamworks hasn't gotten this guy on the phone yet, they're going about this all wrong.
If Dreamworks hasn't gotten this guy on the phone yet, they're going about this all wrong.

When Criterion's Need for Speed: Most Wanted was finally confirmed just prior to E3, a cry went out for the inclusion of the "old" Most Wanted's main bad guy, Razor Callahan. Sure, that cry was primarily coming from me, but it was a cry nonetheless! Given the way that Criterion isn't really the sort of studio to put a story into its racing games, I... didn't actually expect that the new Most Wanted would contain America's Favorite Racing Bad Guy.

That's why it's so wonderful that we all have a second chance, because Dreamworks has picked up the Need for Speed name for use in a movie. And they've got some actual humans attached to it in writing and directing capacities. Some of their credits include the screenplay for Real Steel and directing Act of Valor, which sounds about right for a movie based on a driving video game that typically doesn't have any story whatsoever. In fact, the press release EA put out this morning goes so far as to state this amazing fact:

The screenplay is based on the Need for Speed series, but is not based on an individual game.

So I suppose that tosses my hopes of a cinematic retelling of a young racer's rise up the blacklist against an evil, car-thieving dirtbag like Razor Callahan out the window, but here's my little bit of advice to the people producing the movie. Include some shitty little throwaway reference to Callahan. Either cast the actor (Derek Hamilton) in a supporting role or include the character's name on a rap sheet or something. Then you can rest easy, knowing that your car movie has remained faithful to the one tiny bit of decent narrative that EA's driving series has contained since its debut in 1994.

Actually, wait. Alongside a Callahan cameo, maybe you could track down this guy from the 3DO game.

(You'll need to skip to around the 1:20 mark to see what I'm talking about, but the whole video is kind of great.)

Back up a minute. what the heck does basing a movie on the Need for Speed series even mean? I mean, it's not a story-based game. Do you think they had to sit down and generate some kind of list of "core competencies" or something? If so, I'm guessing it looked sort of like this...

  • Cars.
  • Fast cars.
  • Oh, they're real cars, too.
  • They go fast? Yes, that's for sure. The cars are fast. Oh, and they cost a lot, so...
  • The cars are often expensive.
  • And sometimes there are cops.

Sounds like box office gold to me, man. But it feels like it's a little late for some movie folks to get together and say "hey, that Fast and the Furious series is hot, let's do that," doesn't it? Besides, the last time someone said that, they made Torque, which is a masterpiece in its own special, bike-fighting way. But there's... actually, wait. Sorry, I need to watch the bike fight scene from Torque now.

Hmm. Kinda thirsty after watching that, but I can't quite put my finger on why. Anyway, as I was saying, there's nothing wrong with a good car movie, and the release goes on to say that Need for Speed will be "rooted in the tradition of the great car culture films of the 70s." I suppose there ain't nothing wrong with attempting that, either. And with relatively attainable aspirations like that, this sort of sounds like a video game movie that might actually get made.

Production is currently targeted to start in early 2013 for a 2014 release. Hell, I don't know. It couldn't be any worse of an idea than Battleship was, right? Hopefully it leads to some sort of ridiculous Need for Speed: The Movie: The Game tie-in product.

[UPDATE]: GameSpot's Brendan Sinclair informs me that the director of this Need for Speed movie did stunts on Torque. So we're effectively looking at the car movie singularity right here, people.

Jeff Gerstmann on Google+