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Need for Speed

Car-fu and wisecracking can't save this film adpated from a videogame

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Cars, speed, crashes — but first, I want to talk about Catwoman. Remember when Halle Berry won the Oscar for Best Actress, then wiped out in that craptastic film? That's pretty much how I feel about Aaron Paul, who has traded all the justly deserved accolades for his portrait of sad, doomed Jesse on Breaking Bad for the lead role in some fast-car porn adapted from a videogame by Scott Waugh.

The plot (as if it matters): Fresh from prison (after being framed), a street racer named Tobey Marshall drives from New York to San Francisco, where he'll run in the Super Duper Street Race, and avenge a wrong to boot. Obstacles along the way are overcome with horsepower and derring-do. Marshall has some wise-cracking sidekicks, a love interest (Imogen Poots) and cosmic guidance from the web-enabled race promoter (Michael Keaton), who also functions as a Greek chorus for all the automotive mayhem. (I hope this role is an homage to Cleavon Little's omniscient DJ in 1971's speeding-west classic Vanishing Point.)

It's in fender-busting 3-D, and Waugh does make good use of spectacular Utah desert and California coastline scenery. Also, Paul twice makes like Jesse Pinkman and cries, and these 3-D tears almost make you forgive him.

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