Loosely based on the Need for Speed Video game franchise, Need for Speed stars Aaron Paul as Tobey Marshall, a mechanic who is hired by rival Dino Brewster (Dominic Cooper) to build a Ford Mustang, which will be sold for over $2,000,000. In a bid to sell the car Tobey takes the Ford Mustang for a test drive (against the wishes of Dino), Tobey is challenged to a race. If he loses, the money from the sale of Mustang will go Dino; if he wins Tobey gets the money. In the race, however, Tobey’s friend Little Pete (a James Dean lookalike Harrison Gilbertson) is involved in an accident deliberately caused by Dino. Dino’s involvement can’t be proved (don’t ask why, it doesn’t make sense), so Tobey is charged for Pete’s death. Two years later Tobey is released on parole and looking for revenge.
Need for Speed sticks very solidly to the formula that made the Fast and Furious franchise so financial successful by focusing on the car and the racing sequences and sacrificing plot, dialogue and character. The racing sequences are undoubtedly the film’s highlight, the editing is superbly done and the sound effects that accompany the racing sequences are electric, however without any real engagement results in these to be merely superficial qualities. The uninterested performances from the likes of Aaron Paul and Dominic Cooper don’t exactly help matters as the pair fail to make their stock characters interesting or engaging. However, those who find the sound of roaring engines electrifying will be excited throughout whilst all the talk of Veyrons and Koenigseggs may be alien to some.
Father James (Brendan Gleeson) is a kind, good natured priest in a isolated Irish village, in the confession booth he is threatened by a confessor who has suffered at the hands of the Catholic Church. Father James has to confront the various dark forces closing in around him.
John Michael McDonagh’s second feature film diverts slightly from his debut, The Guard, as Calvary strikes a far more sombre and serious tone than his debut feature. However, Calvary isn’t entirely different as it still contains McDonagh’s signature dark comedy which is very amusing. Calvary tackles mature themes of faith, forgiveness and the past crimes of Catholic Church with intelligence, sensitivity and a touch of humour. Brenden Gleeson leads a terrific cast (consisting of Chris O’Dowd, Kelly Reilly and Aidan Gillen), and it is his scenes with his daughter, Fiona, that are the most touching. Some may be slightly put off by the slow pacing, and the characters personalities are greatly exaggerated, particularly Orla O'Rourke’s Veronica, but perhaps these characters are intended to represent various punishable sins of the Catholic religion and highlight how of the morals of Catholic religion become less important as Catholism itself becomes less important in Irish society.
Seth Green and Rose Byrne (Mac and Kelly Rander) star as a young couple with a newborn baby, who are shocked to discover that a frat boy collage group (led by Zac Efron and Dave Franco) have moved in next door. Unsurprisingly the new neighbours’ nightly drunken parties become a massive distraction to the Rander’s life and, as a result, they decide to get rid of them.
Bad Neighbours is a bit like a party where you don’t know anyone, it starts with a slow start to the night because you are standing there awkwardly not engaging in too much conversation, until you consume a few beverages and then you end up singing along to What Makes You Beautiful and generally having a great night out. Bad Neighbours starts off slowly as it struggles to say anything amusing or interesting about the responsibilities of parenthood, but when the film’s main protagonists (Rose Byrne and Seth Rogan) start to have an out and out war with the frat boys living next door the pace quickens up considerably and laughs are more frequent. The performances are good, but the film’s most amusing moments have already been ruined by the trailer. Things do eventually improve and the laughs more frequent, but the slog to get there just isn’t fully worth it (unlike a good night out).