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18th November 2013

Contrary Corner: There’s no need for speed

According to Suraj Vara, cars should stay on the road and out of the cinema

I recently watched a trailer for the new Need for Speed film to be released early next year, and in short the film was simply a compilation of supercars being totalled. The new film stars Aaron Paul, known to many as ‘Breaking Bad’ meth cook Jesse Pinkman, who, fresh from jail, seeks revenge on the man who put him there; how original!

The thing is, I’ve realised that Need for Speed isn’t going to be rubbish because it’s a film based on a video game, which are often shitty (save Mortal Kombat which is so bad, it’s rather good), it’s because it’s a car film. There’s no denying that car films in the recent past have been just about the cars.

I understand the stupidity of what I’m saying: “Why watch a car film if you don’t like cars?” Yes I do like cars but I also like films, and what’s the point of a film about cars if there isn’t much film lurking under the bonnet?

Long gone are the days of Gone in 60 Seconds where the thrill of the heist was just as exciting as the ‘67 Ford Mustang Shelby GT 500 named Eleanor; the Pontiac Firebird Trans Am we lovingly knew as KITT; or the iconic Minis from The Italian Job. These cars were icons because of what they gave to the narrative. Today, car films have just become a primitive, destruction derby of pimped up supercars where, essentially, directors all drop their pants and compare who’s got the biggest- budget.

Let’s take the Fast and Furious series. It started out pretty well with a good-ish storyline using cars as tools to aid a detective story. Comparing that to now where the film is about a bunch of tools using cars to do something ridiculous, like tow a two tonne safe around the streets of Rio and, somehow, pull the ol’ switcharoo under a bridge!

What’s even worse is the fact that Vin Diesel and Paul Walker, the original cop-criminal double team, are now joined by steroid-pumped Dwayne “the Rock” Johnson as a CIA elite to try and make things more interesting; nuts to anyone who thinks a man that dedicated to his law enforcement job would capture the bad guy and then let him go so they can become best mates in the next film!

If that wasn’t enough, Fast and Furious 6 closes with a cut scene into one of the crew’s future/past in Tokyo, where Jason Statham enters to set up “Fast meets Transporter” to create… Every other film Jason Statham has ever made.

And it doesn’t stop there! The Knight Rider series was recently rebooted with KITT as a polymorph Shelby GT 500 which can transform into an SUV with guns and extra power; notably it was quickly cancelled again. Logically speaking, I wouldn’t want my crime fighting car to have to transform into something else just to get the extra horses out of the engine when I’m in a pinch!

So what are car films today? Well after sacrificing the clever finesse of the classics (cars and films that is), it seems they’re running on empty.

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