Need for Speed

  • Review Date: March 14, 2014
  • Rated: PG-13
  • Genre: Action/Adventure
  • Release Year: 2014
  • Running Time: 130 minutes

Common Sense Media says

Fast-paced stunts, dangerous driving will thrill teens.
  • Review Date: March 14, 2014
  • Rated: PG-13
  • Genre: Action/Adventure
  • Release Year: 2014
  • Running Time: 130 minutes





What parents need to know

Positive messages

The main thrust of the story is revenge, and the main characters destroy countless amounts of property with no consequences.

Positive role models

Aside from wreaking untold destruction and going out for revenge, the main character is a good team player, and has a sense of right and wrong. In two cases, he stops during a race to check on fellow racers after crashes, even though he risks his lead. (The bad guy does not show this same tendency.) Some female characters are treated as sex objects in skimpy outfits.


The movie includes many car chases and crashes, and filmed without the aid of CG effects, the impact of these stunt sequences is quite strong. Characters die in car crashes. We see some guns and shooting, and some punching, but only a little blood is shown (mostly injuries after crashes).


A male character quits his office job by stripping down to nothing. It's a long sequence as he walks through the building and outside, interacting with his friends, though only his naked bottom is shown. The main character and the lead female character share an almost-kiss.


Language is not very frequent but does include "s--t," "bitch," "ass," and "douchebag."



A female character mentions her prized "Gucci boots." The brand names of cars are mentioned, such as "Ford Mustang."


Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Characters occasionally drink in restaurants or in a background way.


Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Need for Speed is an action movie, based on a video game, and centers around car racing (and car crashing). Teens will be attracted to the movie thanks to its star Aaron Paul in his first lead role after the hit TV series Breaking Bad. Expect plenty of car chases, stunts, and crashes, and characters die, though only a little blood is shown. Infrequent language includes a few uses of "s--t" and "bitch." In some scenes, women are shown as sexual objects, a man strips naked (only his bottom is shown), and the main character and the leading lady fall in love and nearly kiss. Parents of driving-age teens should be aware that the very fast stunt driving in the movie was done by both stuntmen and actors after intensive training, and they might want to remind them that this kind of driving in real life is extremely dangerous.

Parents say

Kids say

What's the story?

Tobey Marshall (Aaron Paul) could have been a champion racer, but instead he remained behind in his small community of Mt. Kisco, working on cars with his faithful crew. An old rival, the successful Dino Brewster (Dominic Cooper), returns to town with a lucrative offer to restore a classic Ford Mustang. An argument over the sale of the car leads to a race between the enemies, followed by an accident that lands the innocent Tobey in jail. Two years later, he plots to enter the dangerous "De Leon" race, run by the mysterious Monarch (Michael Keaton), but to do so, he must make a speedy cross-country run to San Francisco, with the daughter of the car's owner, Julia (Imogen Poots), in tow. Can Tobey beat Dino and restore his good name?

Is it any good?


With NEED FOR SPEED, former stunt man Scott Waugh pays homage to the classic action/car chase movies of the 1960s and 1970s by choosing to use all live stunts, with no computer-generated effects. He also casts an actual actor (Aaron Paul), rather than an action hero, to play the lead, resulting in more meaningful, human moments. So, even though the movie is a fairly routine popcorn entertainment with typical twists, romances, heroes and villains, it feels old-fashioned, organic, and exciting. It's based on a video game, but you'd never know it.

The stunts, especially one involving an Apache helicopter rescuing the escaping Mustang from the edge of a cliff, is tremendous, with far more powerful impact than CG effects could accomplish. It helps that Paul and his co-star, English actor Imogen Poots, are so good and sympathetic together, showing fear and doubt as well as exhilaration. And even though it runs past two hours, the movie is briskly paced; it's a terrific ride.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the movie's violence and car racing. What would be the cost of all this violence and wild driving in real life? Does the movie reflect the true consequences of the way the characters drive their cars?

  • Could you tell that the movie is shot without computer-generated effects and used all real stunts? What is the difference?

  • What positive qualities does the main character have? Is he a good role model? What would make him a better role model?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:March 14, 2014
DVD release date:August 5, 2014
Cast:Aaron Paul, Dominic Cooper, Imogen Poots
Director:Scott Waugh
Studio:Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
Topics:Cars and trucks
Run time:130 minutes
MPAA rating:PG-13
MPAA explanation:sequences of reckless street racing, disturbing crash scenes, nudity and crude language

This review of Need for Speed was written by

About our rating system

  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

Find out more


Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

Find out more

Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

Find out more

About our buy links

When you use our links to make a purchase, Common Sense Media earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes. As a nonprofit organization, these funds help us continue providing independent, ad-free services for educators, families, and kids while the price you pay remains the same. Thank you for your support.
Read more

See more about how we rate and review.

What parents and kids say

See all user reviews

Share your thoughts with other parents and kids Write a user review

A safe community is important to us. Please observe our guidelines

Adult Written byJInsinna13 April 25, 2015

Aaron Paul took me on a wild ride

I watched this movie because of Aaron Paul. Car movies are generally not my thing, but I ended up liking this movie. The storyline was good, and the car crashes were authentic. This movie was suspenseful, especially during the car chase scenes. I was on edge the whole time because I felt like I was actually in the car with Aaron during his wild ride. This movie has some violence, and the characters sometimes swear. People who don't like violence or swearing should not watch this movie. Need For Speed is a must for Aaron Paul fans. If you watch this movie, be prepared to be in for a wild ride.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much swearing
Teen, 15 years old Written byMavrah333 April 24, 2015

Poor acting and idiotic plot ruin a film with few redeeming qualities.

I do not exaggerate when I say that Michael Bay is a better director than the guy who made this. The acting is abysmal, the less said about the races the better, and its difficult not to swear when describing the lack of imagination involving the plot. This un-funny, not thrilling racing movie is laughably predictable, and arguably one of the worst movies of 2014. Final Score: 1/10: Horrible
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much swearing
Kid, 12 years old November 22, 2014

There is absolutely no CGI. (Except for title sequences and transitions.) Nearly 13 years old, and please read on --- there is a gratuitous and moronic scene involving a man stripping in a PUBLIC OFFICE. Slow at times, but entertaining for a light watch. Again, there is absolutely ZERO CGI used for the stnts.

Hi, Epicboy21, yet again. EDIT: In a mid-credits scene, a prisoner tells the other prisoners how to twerk and they are seen twerking. A good 30 seconds, this lasts. EDIT OVER. First, let me tell you that this film is fine for your teens. Second of all, please note that that "Touchstone" company you see the logo for after DreamWorks at the beginning of the movie is simply Disney's adult-oriented division, so technically, this, Pretty Woman, Dead Poets' Society, Good Morning Vietnam, Sister Act are all Disney movies under the Touchstone banner. PARENTS' POINT OF VIEW?: What's the story? If there is one? MY POINT OF VIEW?: Tobey Marshall, played by the Breaking Bad star Aaron Paul, playing Walt's partner in crime, is convicted of manslaughter after a car catches on fire and completely kills a driver in a reckless manslaughter incident, which we only see the fire of, not the body. PARENTS' POINT OF VIEW: Is it any good? MY POINT OF VIEW: Mediocre at best. Too slow and boring sometimes, but usually entertaining, if not overlong, and having NOT seen the hit show Breaking Bad, Aaron Paul is completely flat. PARENTS' POINT OF VIEW: OMG the commercials were horrific and I had to walk out of the cinema until the movie started --- and the brands of cars are mentioned very clearly and glamourised in crash-fests. MY POINT OF VIEW: The consumerism here is plenty of cars, and, in one scene, some other DreamWorks/Touchstone/Disney DVDs. For goodness' sake, it's all about cars. And, consumerism doesn't matter. Remember that. And at the end of the day, it's just some movie. It honestly COULD have been better. It's about average. The crashes are pretty memorable. Besides, I only saw it when it hit Blu-ray, and it was pirated on my cousin's computer --- my 42" TV scanned it at approximately the middle of the screen. PARENTS' POINT OF VIEW: There is a lot of language here --- too much for my kids. MY POINT OF VIEW: Yes, someone's called a "d--chebag",there's the name "sh--sack" thrown about once, the word "sh-t" is used about 10 or so times at least, there's some other swearing, like "son-of-a-b*tch" and "cr*p" and stuff. Nothing your teen hasn't heard before, and the language is in several scenes though. Just probably not for anyone under 13. No strong language, but certainly crude in some places. PARENTS' POINT OF VIEW: There is glamorisation of crime. MY POINT OF VIEW: And, parents who don't care for this sort of thing, I won't spoil it anyway, unless I put in a spoiler warning, which I will later. You'll thank me, if you're never gonna watch it, The following is not spoilers. There is some racing that you root for them for, and Tobey, who is the main character, gets arrested once at the beginning of the movie, but 2 years later, he's released, this is at the beginning of the film and he wants revenge for the manslaughter of a fellow racer, which, this crash is the most intense and fiery. This is what the basic plot's about, so that's not spoilers. Now, I'm about to tell you, skip over this paragraph about here if you don't want spoilers. SPOILER ALERT! The main character also gets arrested at the end of the movie, then gets released. PARENTS' POINT OF VIEW: Is this film going to be violent? MY POINT OF VIEW: The film centres on a manslaughter (an accidental murder for those who really doesn't know about it) and you see the car with the driver inside it catch on fire, but you never see the driver, however. You can see a distressed Tobey, whom of which is witnessing this event, during a big, busy daytime race, to hip-hop music, the screen literally goes silent, except for slight sound effects and music, and we see the burning car in front of him, implying that the driver inside the car is killed. He is visibly upset. Most of the other car crashes don't involve blood, but one does. A scar of blood on someone's forehead after they're retrieved from a burning car, a car that's crashed, and two people are punched throughout the movie. There's also a police officer going undercover at a 7-Eleven, who chases a central character through a building, and she manages to jump, despite being afraid of heights. At one point, she's in the hospital. So, yeah, sort of violent. It's about a heavy PG, but a very light PG-13 at most. For Australia, this is easily a PG equivalent in violence --- it's rated America's PG-13 equivalent for "mature themes", and it depends, sometimes Australia's more relaxed, sometimes they're strict --- your PG may be G to them, or your PG may be PG-13 to them, your PG-13 equivalent may be an R to them, your R may be their PG-13, et cetera. Equivalent very light PG-13. Your child can survive if they've watched Fast and Furious, which I haven't seen any of the seven or so instalments. PARENTS' POINT OF VIEW: What about that 'gratuitous nude scene' you talked about? MY POINT OF VIEW: Yes, this lasts approximately 30 seconds at the tops, so when Dino, the rival racer, is in the office, skip this scene if you don't want your child seeing rear nudity --- he takes off his shirt, and his chest is easily visible, as he takes off his pants and shoes, just in his underwear, and, believe it or not, it focuses on his rear side when he even pulls down his underwear --- he's naked in an elevator, comments it's cold, and then goes and jumps on someone else completely naked --- I can understand why an office worker murmured "What the h-ll?" So, yeah, that's how it goes, in broad daylight. Completely gratuitous, and if you're really observant, his penis might be visible for about a split-second. Anyway... I agree with you with this. Apart from this, there's some comments that can be viewed as sexist. There's some kisses, and Tobey's girlfriend wears cleavage-laden dresses. PARENTS' POINT OF VIEW: Smoking? Drinking? Drugs? No drug use of any kind, maybe some smoking, maybe some social drinking, no one gets drunk. At least, that I remember. PARENTS' POINT OF VIEW: Women objectified? Not exactly. Imogen Poots gets to shine and stands for what's right, and is not simply a sex object --- she never shows off in bras or implied nude scenes --- NEVER. PARENTS' OVERALL POINT OF VIEW: This is good, like a Q&A --- I'm glad I found this review. Thank you for noticing for me about the mild violence, the gratuitous male rear nudity, the language and the consumerism just so I know. MY OVERALL POINT OF VIEW: You're welcome. I used to do a shorter and less satisfying format, but I'll try consider this in the future. Also read my review of Saving Mr. Banks, Men in Black, Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, Flight of the Navigator, Short Circuit, Life of Pi, Pitch Perfect, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, plenty of things. My reviews quite often disappear into the site itself, but they're nice and helpful. Useful to know. Overall, NEED FOR SPEED is rated PG-13 for "Sequences of reckless street racing (which there is plenty), disturbing crash scenes (which the only one that can possibly be disturbing is the one at the start), nudity (which I'm really ticked off by) and crude language (which there is also plenty of)." Anyway, thank you for reading. And below, are in-depth biographies of somethings. PARENTS' POINT OF VIEW?: Can you please describe how Touchstone went to be with Disney? MY POINT OF VIEW?: Yes, sure. Touchstone Pictures is the more mature, sophisticated banner created by then-Disney associate guy Ron W. Miller, whom, in 1984, created that Tom Hanks/Daryl Hannah movie, Splash. Now, knowing a LOT about movies and studios and stuff, I'm pretty much the guy to ask. Also, my interests are technology, videogaming, and, TV shows, I generally like pop, rock, hip-hop, electronic, music, the slower music, however, isn't too much quite my taste. However, anyway, however, this Touchstone banner was also implemented for more adult movies under the Disney banner, with notable PG films The Black Hole, Tron, under the Disney banner, Tex, under the Disney banner, Never Cry Wolf, under the Disney banner, but, however, Never Cry Wolf featured full-frontal male nudity, and Tex the use of teenagers using marijuana. So, both inspired Touchstone. Weird Science, Dangerous People, Adventures in Babysitting, Sister Act, Good Morning Vietnam, Sister Act: 2: Back in the Habit, Dead Poets' Society, Unbreakable, Wild Hogs, Deja Vu, Armageddon, Pearl Harbor, Who Framed Roger Rabbit?, Pretty Woman, are plenty of the movies, available, into the Touchstone years. They had plenty of hits like that, and that was just listing from their inception in 1984 until at least 2007 or so. They had a television division, named TOUCHSTONE TELEVISION, and their early logo is known as the white background and the blue ball which is panned out from, showing TOUCHSTONE FILMS. The second logo, was known as the "SNAKE" logo, which contained a black background, this time, lasting until 2,000, with the long, blue circular rectangle going across the screen, then, forming into a circle, with the words in some old font, TOUCHSTONE PICTURES, appearing next to it, the light putting the prick onto the thing, and, then, in 2000, most films after 2000, apart from CALENDAR GIRLS, didn't contain the somewhat eerie fanfare and the ding at the end, except for the opening of TOUCHSTONE DVDs and BD BLU-RAYs like Gnomeo and Juliet, Pearl Harbor, Armageddon, the movies I'm mentioning before, and this 2000 version was a glowing orangey-yellow ball, which became blue, with a small reflection of the writing, and, the prick, already there, with the text zooming out, to show, in a 3D, similar font to the last one, TOUCHSTONE PICTURES. This logo is seen on THE AMAZING RACE (CBS TV SERIES), DEJA VU, FRIGHT NIGHT, GNOMEO AND JULIET, THE HELP, THE HUNDRED-FOOT JOURNEY, I AM NUMBER FOUR, MONK (TV SERIES), NEED FOR SPEED, REAL STEEL, UNBREAKABLE, WILD HOGS, the biographical drama, LINCOLN, and, any other TOUCHSTONE TITLE. One notable exception: PEARL HARBOR, the film, completely skips this logo, except, before the menu. The Blu-ray doesn't even have a menu. Just some pop-up thing that when you end the movie, it replays it, immediately afterwards. In 2011, they have signed a 30-picture, long term, 5 year motion-picture deal with DREAMWORKS SKG, NOT the animation division, the live-action division, since 2004, they have been separate companies. This contained the films including after I AM NUMBER FOUR, including I AM NUMBER FOUR, REAL STEEL, THE HELP, FRIGHT NIGHT, LINCOLN, NEED FOR SPEED, THE HUNDRED-FOOT JOURNEY. And is set to appear on the 2015 LUCASFILM ANIMATION FILM --- NOT STAR WARS --- CALLED "STRANGE MAGIC". HOPEFULLY MORE FAMILY-FRIENDLY THAN THE NEED FOR SPEED REVIEW BELOW. Just capitalising on good news. Disney bought both MARVEL and LUCASFILM, and that means if TOUCHSTONE is DISNEY, then they can distribute too. This also means that, however, in 2007, their other adult division, HOLLYWOOD PICTURES, whom which produced THE SIXTH SENSE, STAY ALIVE, SUPER MARIO BROS. THE MOVIE, PLENTY OF OTHER THINGS, THE FIRST FILM ARACHNOPHOBIA, they went folded into TOUCHSTONE PICTURES, including the film CRIMSON TIDE. Anyway, that's the end of this history biography, and onto the review. One of the films in the TOUCHSTONE (DISNEY)---DREAMWORKS (DISNEY) deal, since, DREAMWORKS split from PARAMOUNT, in 2008. DREAMWORKS first film was THE PEACEMAKER. Anyway, really, thankyou for reading. The end of this review. Next review: SAVING MR. BANKS.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much consumerism
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking


Did our review help you make an informed decision about this product?

Essential Apps Guide