No Need for ‘Need to Speed’ ; ‘Enemy’ Explores Subconscious


need for speed



Movie Info

Based on the most successful racing video game franchise ever with over 140 million copies sold, DreamWorks Pictures’ “Need for Speed” captures the thrills of the game in a real-world setting. An exciting return to the great car-culture films of the 1960s and ’70s, when authenticity brought a new level of intensity to the action, “Need for Speed” taps into what makes the American myth of the open road so enticing. The story chronicles a near-impossible cross-country race against time-one that begins as a mission for revenge, but proves to be one of redemption. In a last attempt to save his struggling garage, blue-collar mechanic Tobey Marshall (Aaron Paul)-who with his team skillfully builds and races muscle cars on the side-reluctantly partners with wealthy, arrogant ex-NASCAR driver Dino Brewster (Dominic Cooper). Just as a major sale to car broker Julia Bonet (Imogen Poots) looks like it will save the business, a disastrous, unsanctioned race results in Dino framing Tobey for manslaughter.

PG-13, 2 hr. 10 min.

Action & Adventure

Directed By: Scott Waugh


Need For Speed2

Come on, give us a brake

By James Mottram

With 150 million units sold, Electronic Arts’ Need For Speed is the most successful racing videogame series of all time. But don’t bank on this tie-in movie gaining the same sort of longevity. While it would love to kick-start a franchise like The Fast & The Furious, it will take a miracle for that to happen.

On the surface, NFS has a lot going for it. Former stuntman Scott Waugh at the helm; a hot-to-trot cast, led by Breaking Bad’s effortlessly likeable Aaron Paul; and more cool cars than Jeremy Clarkson’s driveway. Unfortunately, it’s also got a clanging script from debutant George Gatins, bogged down by dreary dialogue, flawed logic and appalling characterisation.

Paul plays Tobey Marshall, a street racer who’s jailed after being falsely convicted of killing of his friend during an illegal race. The real culprit is old rival Dino Brewster (Dominic Cooper), who lured Tobey towards his fate after asking him to soup up a classic car for a profit share.

Emerging from prison, Tobey is desperate for revenge – which comes in the form of a cross-country race organised by a mystery benefactor (Michael Keaton). Joining Tobey is Julia (Imogen Poots), the British girl who brokered the sale of the car Tobey and Dino worked on. Ludicrously, Julia’s boss is foolhardy enough to let her enter the race with his priceless vehicle.

Need For Speed gets it right in one area: the stunts are pure adrenalin shots – from a wonderful cross-freeway leap that will leave your jaw hanging to a stunning helicopter car-lift. So where do the problems lie? Let’s start with the clichéd characters, from Cooper’s all-in-black villain to Poots’ posh totty who – surprise, surprise – knows more about engines than Jenson Button (“never judge a girl by her Gucci boots,” she says).

Then there’s the plot. For a film that rushes along at 100 mph, you can also see the twists a mile off. Lacking F&F’s urban credibility, this is a well-behaved younger brother; the end result is like a poor man’s Cannonball Run. Come back Burt Reynolds – all is forgiven.


The cars are hot, the action is decent, but the characters and plot need a serious tune-up.





Movie Info   Academy Award Nominee Jake Gyllenhaal reteams with his PRISONERS director, Academy Award Nominee Denis Villeneuve, in this sexy and hypnotically surreal psychological thriller that breathes new life into the doppleganger tradition. Adam Bell (Gyllenhaal) is a glum, disheveled history professor, who seems disinterested even in his beautiful girlfriend, Mary (Laurent). Watching a movie on the recommendation of a colleague, Adam spots his double, a bit-part actor named Anthony Clair, and decides to track him down. The identical men meet and their lives become bizarrely and irrevocably intertwined. Gyllenhaal is transfixing as both Adam and Anthony, provoking empathy as well as disapproval while embodying two distinct personas. With masterfully controlled attention to detail, Villeneuve takes us on an enigmatic and gripping journey through a world that is both familiar and strange – and hard to shake off long after its final, unnerving image. ENEMY, adapted from Nobel Prize-winning author José Saramago’s 2004 novel The Double, is about the power of the subconscious. In the end, only one man can survive.   R, 1 hr. 30 min.

Directed By: Denis Villeneuve

Mystery & Suspense

The two Jakes go head-to-head as Gyllenhaal plays a mild-mannered history prof shocked to discover his doppelganger

By Peter Debruge

Chief International Film Critic@AskDebruge

Denis Villeneuve convinces Jake Gyllenhaal to undertake a journey into the subconscious with “Enemy,” a simultaneously unsettling and exasperating work of speculative fiction different enough in subject, pacing and tone from everything else out there that it should succeed in finding an audience by virtue of sheer oddity alone.

Gyllenhaal plays a mild-mannered history prof shocked to discover his doppelganger —  that’s about the only thing that can be said with certainty about this loose adaptation of Jose Saramago’s “The Double,” which A24 scooped up in Toronto. To its advantage, “Enemy” is mysterious enough that many viewers will insist on seeing it twice.   For its double-duty leading man (who subsequently reteamed with Villeneuve on “Prisoners”), this murky mind-bender is the closest Gyllenhaal has come to tackling another “Donnie Darko,” only this time, not even the director seems to know what it all means.

Where others make cutty, hyper-kinetic features, Villeneuve ratchets up the tension at roughly the speed ice caps melt, using that extra time to force audiences’ attention into uneasy corners of the psyche.   With “Enemy,” he plunges inward, exploring a mix of inarticulable anxieties and unsettling dream imagery, opening with an elite, invite-only sex club where expressionless men in suits watch naked ladies do erotic things with live tarantulas onstage.

Meanwhile, a pregnant woman (Sarah Gadon) waits at home. Who is she? And who, for that matter, is Gyllenhaal in this equation? The next time we see him, the actor is leading a stuffy existence, lecturing on methods of control to a glazed-looking college class. So the man is Adam Bell, a dull moth of a college professor — or so audiences are led to believe, as the pic privileges this character.   One night, when he probably ought to be making love to his gorgeous and conspicuously un-pregnant g.f. (Melanie Laurent), Adam instead chooses to rent a video, spotting a bit player in the background who looks uncannily similar to himself (minus the beard). After a bit of snooping, he identifies the actor as Daniel Saint Claire (real name Anthony), a nobody with three tiny roles to his credit. With seemingly little else in his life to occupy him, Adam starts to investigate Anthony, using the fact that the two men look and sound exactly alike (right down to a distinguishing chest scar) to infiltrate the stranger’s private affairs.

But the power shifts when Daniel — as sexually aggressive as Adam is detached — demands a romantic weekend with his double’s mistress. Curiosity can be a dangerous thing, as Adam begins to uncover what appears to be another side of himself, or so a disconcerting visit to his mother (Isabella Rossellini) would suggest.

Though impressively choreographed and undoubtedly the most dramatic moments in this low-key mood study, the interactions between the two Jakes distract from what could be real in the stale, strangely antiseptic world of the film, as if Adam’s subconscious had assumed an identity of its own — or vice versa. If Adam is literal and logical, then his double is just the opposite: artistic, impulsive and, quite possibly, incorrigible.

The way Villeneuve has constructed this puzzle, audiences are drawn in by the rich, sinister vibe and led to expect a thriller. Though the director demonstrates an impressive mastery of tone as it pertains to both the sound design and visuals, the pace defies contempo comfort levels, unfolding like a slow-motion, spied-through-amber episode of “The Twilight Zone,” the shock ending all the more startling given the gradual build-up it receives.

In a daring move, Villeneuve radically departs from both the source material (which contains no trace of spiders, for example) and Javier Gullon’s script, complicating the issue of whose subconscious the film is exploring exactly by incorporating improvisatory breakthroughs with Gyllenhaal into the fabric of the film.   Ultimately, the enigmatic surface conflict — in which a man must contend with his own carbon copy as rival — proves to be the film’s own worst enemy, for its dark, David Lynchian allure proves almost too compelling, obscuring the material’s deeper themes. Delve further, and a fresh set of existential questions arises: How does a man reconcile two lovers in his own head? Can he really maintain two separate lives without losing track of reality? What happens when his pregnant wife begins to suspect? And what fresh crimes must he commit in order to come home?



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