‘Need for Speed’ vs. ‘The Fast and the Furious’ – Which is the Better Car Movie?

Published 5 months ago by

Fast and Furious Need For Speed Movie Need for Speed vs. The Fast and the Furious   Which is the Better Car Movie?

Need for Speed
is the latest attempt at adapting a video game for feature film audiences, a feat that has been attempted many times before to mostly disappointing results. Beyond that, though, Need for Speed is a rare entry in the car movie genre, which has been dominated for the last decade by The Fast and the Furious franchise.

We wouldn’t say the two are direct competitors, as both deploy different approaches, but there is no question Need for Speed is going after a similar audience. Considering that, we thought it would be interesting to compare the two freshman efforts of each franchise based on a few key categories. Keep reading to find out which film ultimately wins.


1. The Cars

Need for Speed McLaren P11 Need for Speed vs. The Fast and the Furious   Which is the Better Car Movie?

Admittedly, The Fast and the Furious and Need for Speed deploy two strikingly different approaches when it comes to their car selections. F&F, for example, was focused on the import tuner scene, where Japanese models like Mitsubishi’s Eclipse and Honda’s Civic are transformed into high performance machines. Sure, each car had its own personality (flashy colors, light kits, body modifications), but they were more like extensions of their racer’s personality. That being said, very few of the cars on display in The Fast and the Furious left us drooling.

Need for Speed, on the other hand, goes for broke with some of the most exotic cars on the planet, from Bugatti to McLaren to Koenigsegg. These are cars that are worth more than some of the Need for Speed actor’s salaries, and we’re not joking. More importantly, though, they are fast all by themselves (see: our Complete Need for Speed Car Guide). In terms of each film’s car “cast,” the competition isn’t even close.

The Winner: Need for Speed


2. The Cast

The Fast and the Furious Cast Need for Speed vs. The Fast and the Furious   Which is the Better Car Movie?

If we’re talking most celebrated cast, then Need for Speed edges out F&F by a wide margin due in large (whole) part to Golden Globe and Emmy winner Aaron Paul. Unfortunately, the rest of the Need for Speed cast is populated by lesser known faces and one big name star in Michael Keaton. What’s worse, a lot of the supporting cast is relegated to the role of comedic relief in some form or another. Keaton, Paul, and Imogen Poots are honestly the only noteworthy members of the cast both as actors and as characters.

The Fast and the Furious didn’t boast much in the way of top name talent when it first debuted, but at the very least it tried to fill out its cast with a wide variety of personalities. Leading man Paul Walker admittedly wasn’t as well known as Aaron Paul at the time, but the folks behind F&F surrounded him with a cast that didn’t feel like a bunch of one-note clichés. It says a lot when, five movies later, audiences turn out in droves to see the original cast reunite.

The Winner: The Fast and the Furious


3. The Love Interest

Imogen Poots Need for Speed Julia Need for Speed vs. The Fast and the Furious   Which is the Better Car Movie?

The Fast and the Furious doubles down with two love interests, but unfortunately it relegates both Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) and Mia (Jordana Brewster) to the periphery. They are the gear head girlfriends or potential girlfriends who have some knowledge about cars, but get little screen time. Rodriguez does get a few actual action moments, but her brief late-film stunts are greatly overshadowed.

Then there is Imogen Poots, who is alongside Aaron Paul for almost the entire film, even hopping behind the wheel for one of the film’s better action sequences. She’s a Brit with an attitude, and the perfect counterbalance to Paul’s character. To be fair, Poots has her share of damsel in distress moments, but her screen time and strength of character help put her above your typical love interest role.

The Winner: Need for Speed


4. The Villain

Vin Diesel in The Fast and the Furious Need for Speed vs. The Fast and the Furious   Which is the Better Car Movie?

Dominic Cooper‘s role as Dino Brewster, the villain in Need for Speed, is appropriately slimy, but it doesn’t resonate on a level that one could call memorable. Sure, he does the horrific deed, he further backs that up with more underhanded moves, and he never learns his lesson, but the characterization of Brewster is merely that of a passable villain. While Aaron Paul delivers a decent hero, he far outclasses Cooper’s villain.

We’ll admit that this category is a little unfair since Vin Diesel is as much the protagonist as the villain, but his role as Dom Toretto still stands heads and shoulders above Cooper’s. Even if he isn’t one in real life, Diesel’s personality and physique scream gear head, and he’s plenty menacing to boot. The Fast and the Furious has a solid history of taking its villains or anti-heroes and making them bona fide leads – just look at The Rock – and it all started with Diesel. He wins in a landslide.

The Winner: The Fast and the Furious


5. The Stunts

The Fast and the Furious Final Stunt Need for Speed vs. The Fast and the Furious   Which is the Better Car Movie?

Video game branding and Aaron Paul aside, Need for Speed‘s major selling point is its use of practical stunt work throughout. Director Scott Waugh boasts an impressive career as a stunt man, so it felt only right that his first big budget film aspire to truly recreating the action seen on screen. And what Need for Speed does deliver is impressive in terms of believability. Unfortunately, practical stunts that consist mostly of car flips, jumps, and explosions only work for so long before they start to lose their appeal.

While Need for Speed does pack more stunts into its 2-hour+ run time, it could easily be argued that The Fast and the Furious‘ stunt work is more memorable. Who could forget that awesome Christmas Vacation-esque moment when the Honda Civic zips underneath the semi truck? Or that final race between muscle car, tuner car, and train? Need for Speed impresses with practicality, but The Fast and the Furious has “cooler” stunts and that’s all that really matters.

The Winner: The Fast and the Furious


6. The Races

Need for Speed Mustang Need for Speed vs. The Fast and the Furious   Which is the Better Car Movie?

Here’s a case where picking a winner ultimately comes down to the viewer’s definition of a race. In Need for Speed, the marquee race of the film is the De Leon, a single lap road course that features forest and coastal scenery. It’s the type of race that Need for Speed video game players would expect to see, complete with tailing cop cars and traps, and is a major highlight of the film.

The Fast and the Furious, on the other hand, focuses on the drag race – the 10-second dash between start and finish line. While the film does an admirable job of trying to introduce tension into what should be a split second event, there is very little focus placed on the actual racing in F&F. Walker and Diesel have their initial confrontation and climactic showdown, but the racing takes a back seat to the drama. The idea of Race Wars sounded cool, though.

The Winner: Need for Speed


The Final Verdict: Entertainment Factor

The Fast and Furious Need for Speed Comparison Need for Speed vs. The Fast and the Furious   Which is the Better Car Movie?

While the singular elements highlighted above might help one film distinguish itself from the other, the ultimate determinant of a film’s success (on its own or comparatively) is its entertainment value. As a result, The Fast and the Furious breaks the tie for being the more enjoyable film to watch overall. Need for Speed does have its strengths and its moments (read our review), but it’s hard to see the film jumpstarting a billion dollar franchise like The Fast and the Furious did.

Still, Need for Speed‘s use of practical stunts and the presence of Aaron Paul offer enough potential that it would be interesting to see where Electronic Arts and DreamWorks go in a sequel. For first films, however, the title goes to The Fast and the Furious.


Which film did you enjoy more – The Fast and the Furious or Need for Speed? What do you think are each film’s individual strengths?

Need for Speed is in theaters now.

Follow Anthony on Twitter @ANTaormina

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TAGS: need for speed, The Fast and the Furious


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  1. F&F sh*ts on this lol. Even the worst one Tokyo Drift.

    • I still can’t believe they cast Aaron Paul as the lead in this movie. When I first read the casting announcement I asumed they where hiring him, to use his forehead as a set piece, for some of the longer chase scenes.

  2. I’m old school. So when it comes to car stunts, I always refer to Smokey & the Bandit 2 also Blues Brothers 2000. Especially the 50 car pile-up scene. No stunt driver were injured. It was a miracle by today’s standard.

  3. So Biased!

    I’m not saying that Screenrant or Anthony Taormina have particular favoritisms for FF, but they are two COMPLETELY different movies.

    FF – DRAMA


    So to answer the question: ‘Need for Speed’ vs. ‘The Fast and the Furious’ – Which is the Better Car Movie?

    Need For Speed. It’s a car movie. The Fast and the Furious series is not. It can be argued that the original FF is, then you have to base it solely on those two movies. At which point your #2 point for The Cast would go to NFS anyway, and FF loses.


    • The Fast and Furious movies are dramas? Whaaat.

    • …………………………………………………………….


      What the..

  4. Need For Speed vs Fast & Furious?

    My money’s on Death Race 2000 from 1975 for both action and drama.

  5. I really like the pic of Aaron Paul Walker.
    See what I did there? Punny, huh? ;)

    • I laughed at ‘Punny’ but not at your joke

  6. ive always preferd fast and the furious

  7. Transformers 4 seems to blatantly rip off man of steel…

  8. I honestly find both movies to be rather mediocre. I’ll agree on F&F having a better cast, but only because the two leads got to play actual characters, whereas Paul and Cooper got stuck with incredibly flat roles in NFS.

  9. Need for speed is terrible in every way and I am a car guy…should have never been made….just terrible.

  10. I haven’t seen Need for Speed yet, but I have to say next to Tokyo Drift, the first F&F is probably the worst movie in the series. IMO the series really picked up with 4/5/6. Which is just why it feels weird to be comparing it to the first movie, to me.

  11. While this might be my personal opinion, i have to disagree on no.1, while NFS tends to have high end sports and luxury cars, not too many car fans would love that, we want something that we can relate to, in a sense that that average person can acquire it in his/her lifetime, not too luxurious and not too over the top super fancy. they would only say “If i can have that..” for NFS cars, drool but no more, coz seeing super high end cars racing on streets is just rare and unaccounted for the masses.

  12. Need For Speed Vs. Fast And Furious?

    i’m a fan of both but my vote has go to NFS. sure FF has a well-known cast now but back in the first movie they were relatively new. FF was what made them and NFS would do the same for its cast (not including paul, cooper, poots and keaton whom are already established stars). Aaron Paul is fantastic actor, better than all of the cast of FF combined.
    and to the guy that said NFS was action and FF was drama, i think you got it mixed up. NFS had more drama and depth than FF. FF tried to present drama and depth in its movie but it was just not strong enough, if not weak.
    both of them are car movies. but if wanted to watch fun and over the top action, i’d go to FF. if wanted to watch a car movie with a better story and depth, NFS is what i’d watched.

  13. nfs is waaaaaaaay better than F&F because it was REAL.


  15. From what I have read all (or at least 90%) of the scenes in NFS are real no computer trickery so that has to be a BIG PLUS for it.
    Not saying that FF series isn’t fun but lets be honest it is apples vs pears.

    As somebody posted above Smokey and the Bandit had some cool scenes in it for sure but my fav to date still has to be from Bullit with Steve McQueen.

  16. Johnny Tran was the Villain.

  17. They need to bring in more people who are exciting to watch. Aaron Paul was great in it, but in such a forgetful cast when he’s the ONLY guy worth watching, he’s going to look amazing no matter what. It just wasn’t THAT entertaining, it had some good moments.

    It’s pretty obvious Dreamworks wants their own “Fast Furious”-esqe franchise. They need to have more interesting people play more interesting characters. If this was 10 years ago Jason Statham would have been in this movie.

  18. I enjoyed NFS much more than F&F, and I’ve seen both within the last month.

  19. As much as i loved the first F&F, I gotta give NFS the edge. I loved NFS, I thought it was great, as a car/racing film its better than F&F and as pure entertaiment(at least to me). But dont get me wrong, I aslo love F&F. I really hope NFS gets a sequel.

  20. Fast and Furious has chemistry, great storyline, action, characters…love love love it. NFS you will only see once. FF you will want to see again and again.
    NFS: pretty and boring
    FF: gritty and real

  21. señores NFS es el futuro y Fast and furious el pasado , admitanlo , NFS es mas realista , yo cuando vi Fast Five y veo que en Rio janeiro se llevan la caja del banco con lo coches ya ahi se pasaron , NFS va ser el futuro de este tipo de peliculas , good bye fast and furious

  22. Hearing about nfs I thought it was going to be a terrible attempt of copying fast and furious.. After seeing the movie by far the best car movie I have ever seen. Way more realistic than f&f and no super unrealistic nos in nfs! And like 90% of the movie was in a car automatically making it a better car movie and the car are better

  23. NFS is cool. And yeah “the police exist”…too bad the whole jail time thing is cut so short you forget anyone was ever caught.

    Also…some stunts were cool. But let’s face it. They’re both movies. MEANT TO ENTERTAIN. Not being real is part of what it should be! So yeah, Fast and the Furious were way unrealistic if you really want to look at it.

    But if you want the goosebumps thing and go “Wow..!” More than just once during a movie…F&F was Soooooooo much better. And the girls…well at least both movies made it believable by not hiring super models for the roles.

    And I personally like seeing ONE or TWO luxurious, overly exspensive cars between civics and Eclipses. Not only does it make the Lambo’s and McClarens look BETTER…but it’s also a lot more legit and REAL if you wanted real. There’s variety in F&F. NFS? Yeah…no.

    And F&F’s storyline was SO much more enjoyable and exciting and also mysterious
    In my opinion the two movies can’t be compared. Fast and Furious would kick NFS’s behind over and over again. The POV, graphics, lighting. Everything’s just better. Unless you want to compare an amateur “let’s see what happens” movie to something just plain awesome, well thought out and people who really let the money fly to do what they did. With success.

    Maybe NFS would get better and would be able to compete later…but F&F just beats it up like hell. And the begiining of NFS sucked. Their way of starting it was stupid.

  24. Dude. You can’t compare them! F&F will kick NFS’s @ss all over the ring.

    Sure, you wanna watch a s***** and cliche storyline and cars speeding, flying and a girl who climbs out a speeding car’s window to help get gas but won’t jump off a small building coz “she’s afraid of heights” then NFS all the way!

    If you want a little bit of everything, big surprises and just plain “Oh god that’s awesome” then F&F baby! And they offer soooo much more than NFS…

    Nawh. Let’s compare NFS to Selena gomez and ethan hawke’s Getaway: Getaway still wins. And THEY have a full-blood Shelby baby.

    NFS was a major dissapointment. Seriously. That kiddies movie Cars?…the first one? I was more thrilled with THAT than this stuff…

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  26. Fast and Furious <3 Soooooooooooooo better. #END

  27. nfs is better f & f is the same boring long history, fighting traffickers, get rich and buy what they want, the police are useless and always escape, everything is predictable, nfs has better story, the hero in the end is trapped, has I work hard to defeat his opponent, I hope you NFS2

  28. I love them both, they both get me going, I really hope NFS gets a sequal but not a cheezy one one that it deserves.its def not ff and I like that not that anythings wrong with ff its just nice to have options ya know?

  29. in my opinion in general fast and furious franchise was better by far!
    the producer seems more to capitalise on the name of the video game franchise. I mean the story doesn’t make any sense first (street racing going to jail get out race again to prove that you were innocent… WTF) the interaction between the character is inexistant I felt it like they just met and started to read the script and they were filming at the same time. the main character doesn’t look like a gear head or a racer but more like a poser.
    fast and furious the main thing that we will always laugh about is the mistakes about technicallities of the cars concept of racing or the modification on cars such as using nos (trademark from holley the real term is nitrous oxide) to go faster despite the fact that the gear ratio remain the the same wich doesn’t change a thing except you’re going throught the gears faster but the top speed remain the same. the 10 seconds car wich is impossible with those cars even the charger wasn’t able to reach the 10 sec (less than 10 of course) racing against cars that is obvious you will lose a asian guy in the civic saying that toretto was fast of course he was he’s driving a rx7 wich is a lot faster than a civic from the beggining and both modified the civic needs more modification to be able to fight with it! in general those who wrote those movies in the franchise doesn’t have a clue about cars and tuning and see more the movie as a general public that no tuner or car enthusiast would like to see. but we still like to watch the movie anyway! some of us became tuners after that! I personally became more interested in car tuning after that movie
    on both side they suffer of the hollywood stereotype wich getting more annoying that interesting wich makes the movies too much predictable we know who will die ( the youngest and lovable character) when the cops will arrive ( they are everywhere!) who is the vilain etc.
    in the case of need for speed the big problem is a movie based on a game that doesn’t have a story and made a movie with acors that doesn’t have charisma on screen they feel empty. the hero is supposed to be friend with the guys who work with him since years but looks like they just met
    the girl looks more like the chick they put there to feel up an empty space she’s more useless to me than a woman that knows about cars if I compare her to leti from fast and furious she can’t make the difference between a civic and a ferrari! in another hand leti is the stereotype of women who like cars but is tomboy
    well to me fast and furious remain a better franchise by far than need for speed wich all its hype was made on the name and big investment on publicity that is the opposite of fast and furious that caught us by surprise
    fast and furious : cheesy but we don’t take it seriously and entertaining
    need for speed: not cheesy as fast and furious but empty and annoying

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