Fast & Furious 6 may conclude Vin Diesel and Paul Walker's run on the franchise, setting the stage for either a reboot or further re-invention of the car-racing series down the line (e.g. a semi-complete overhaul, a la Transformers 4). However, in the meantime, DreamWorks will attempt to fill the demand for illegal racing thrills and machismo drivers with the EA video game adaptation Need for Speed.
The project has Aaron Paul (Breaking Bad) and Dominic Cooper (Captain America, Dead Man Down) playing the leads, with the supporting players including Imogen Poots (Fright Night), Rami Malek (Breaking Dawn - Part 2) and actor/musician Kid Cudi. We can now confirm that old-timer fan-favorite Michael Keaton is joining that crew of young talent and up-and-comers.
Need for Speed arrives in 2014, marking the 20th anniversary of the original video game property (which now boasts over 18 installments). The games started out as track race competitions combined with open stages that include traffic and cops as obstacles, but the focus eventually shifted more onto illegal street racing elements - set in dangerous urban environments, where the police are 'the enemies' - that are equivalent to playable versions of the Fast and the Furious movies. Hence, comparisons between the two are near-impossible to avoid.
Here is a synopsis for the Need for Speed movie (via Heat Vision):
The story tells of a local street-racer (Paul) who partners with a rich and arrogant business associate (Cooper), only to find himself framed by his colleague and sent to prison. After his stint in the joint, he joins a New York-to-Los Angeles race to get revenge. But when the ex-partner learns of the scheme, he puts a massive bounty on the racer’s head, forcing him to run a cross-country gauntlet of illegal racers in all manner of supercharged vehicles.
Keaton is playing "the reclusive and eccentric host of an underground supercar race where he invites the best drivers from around the world." For those who are too young to remember: he's the star of Tim Burton's Batman movies and Beetlejuice, in addition to supporting player in famous '90s titles like Kenneth Branagh's Much Ado About Nothing and
Jack Frost Quentin Tarantino's Jackie Brown. The actor's kept busy voicing Ken in Toy Story shorts over the past year (and Jason Hudson in Call of Duty: Black Ops II), but will appear onscreen in both Need for Speed and the RoboCop reboot in 2014.
George Gatins is scripting Need for Speed, drawing from a story he conceived with his Oscar-nominated screenwriter brother John Gatins (Flight). Director Scott Waugh is a stunt coordinator with over two decades of experience; he transitioned into directing with last year's Navy SEAL action-thriller Act of Valor. Meanwhile, producing responsibilities are assigned to J. Gatins and Mark Sourian, working alongside executive producer John Brooks Klingenbeck (Lawless, Warm Bodies).
That's to say: there's solid talent working on both sides of the camera, boding well for the Need for Speed adaptation. Whether or not that translates into replicating the box office success of Fast and the Furious, is another matter.
Need for Speed races into theaters on February 7th, 2014.