Need for Speed

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Not recommended under 13, PG to 15 (Violence, Sexual references and intense, reckless car racing scenes).

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for Need for Speed
  • a review of Need for Speed completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 20 March 2014.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 13 Not suitable
Children 13-15 Parental Guidance recommended

About the movie

This section contains details about the movie, including its classification by the Australian Government Classification Board and the associated consumer advice lines. Other classification advice (OC) is provided where the Australian film classification is not available.

Name of movie: Need for Speed
Classification: M
Consumer advice lines: Contains sequences of reckless street racing, disturbing crash scenes, nudity and crude language
Length: 130 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

The film Need For Speed opens with a prologue/monologue given by DJ Monarch (Michael Keaton), who hosts a car racing internet-radio show and runs the annual infamous and highly illegal  “De Leon “ street race. It appears that the film’s lead character Toby Marshal (Aaron Paul), a local of the town of Mt. Kisco, was a promising race car driver until he quit racing in preference of building high performance cars. In contrast, Toby’s old rival on the racetrack, Dino Brewster (Dominic Cooper), made it to the big-time racing Indy cars and owning his own elite car dealership. Unfortunately Toby is facing hard times and is in fear of losing the garage he inherited from his father to the bank. When Dino turns up out of the blue and offers Toby a deal to finish building a Ford Mustang, partially built by the legendary Carroll Shelby before he died, Toby is unable to refuse his offer - 25% of what Dino sells the Mustang for.

Toby and his friends build the car and the car is bought by Julia (Imagen Poots) an English racing car enthusiast. With old rivalry still festering between Toby and Dino, Dino presents Toby with a challenge: a race where the winner walks away with 100% of the sale price of Shelby’s Mustang. Tragedy strikes however, when the race leads to a crash (caused by Dino) that takes the life of Toby’s young workmate Pete (Harrison Gilberson). Toby is falsely blamed for Pete’s death and sentenced to two years imprisonment.
Two year later Toby is released from prison and immediately seeks revenge by planning to race against Dino in DJ Monarch’s De Leon street race. Toby manages to borrow Shelby’s Mustang and with Julia as his co-driver, the pair makes a high-speed, two day jaunt across country to San Francisco while being chased by the police and villains.
Eventually Toby makes it to the start line and the race is on between him, Dino and four other competitors.  


Children and adolescents may react adversely at different ages to themes of crime, suicide, drug and alcohol dependence, death, serious illness, family breakdown, death or separation from a parent, animal distress or cruelty to animals, children as victims, natural disasters and racism. Occasionally reviews may also signal themes that some parents may simply wish to know about.

Illegal street racing: competitive car racing; false imprisonment; justice, and revenge

Use of violenceinfo

Research shows that children are at risk of learning that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution when violence is glamourised, performed by an attractive hero, successful, has few real life consequences, is set in a comic context and / or is mostly perpetrated by male characters with female victims, or by one race against another.

Repeated exposure to violent content can reinforce the message that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution. Repeated exposure also increases the risks that children will become desensitised to the use of violence in real life or develop an exaggerated view about the prevalence and likelihood of violence in their own world.

The film Need for Speed contains intense sequences of life endangering, reckless street racing resulting in destruction of property and the death of a character, some action violence and occasional low-level blood and gore. Examples include:During a night race cars race against each other through city streets causing havoc and mayhem. The speeding cars narrowly miss being hit by a train, hitting pedestrians and almost collide head-on with cars, a mobile home and a street sweeper truck.

  • One of the speeding cars misses hitting a homeless man by millimetres but collides with the shopping trolley he was pushing destroying the trolley; the occupants of the car laugh at the destruction they caused.
  • One scene depicts three men racing high performance street/race cars (capable of reaching speed of 270 mph) in an urban area, along a two lane road, swerving around cars, driving down the centre of the road while forcing other vehicles off of the road.
  • A car forced off the road clips a second car casing a collision with glass shattering.
  • One of the speeding cars deliberately crashes into the rear end of a second speeding car propelling the car up into the air with the car flipping over before crashing to the ground, rolling over several times and then crashing through a bridge railing with the car plummeting to the ground below where it lands upside down on rocks and catches on fire; this segment is depicted in slow motion.
  • The burning car explodes in flames and a man is seen silently screaming in anguish before he dies.
  • A number of police cars are wrecked when they are forced off the road and one is wrecked as a result of vandalism.
  • A speeding car is pursued by two large army style jeeps and a Hummer with men in the jeeps and Hummer firing shotguns and machineguns at the speeding car.
  • One of the jeeps rear-ends the speeding car while the speeding car causes the Hummer to crash into a cliff face, flip over and catch fire.
  • The remaining two jeeps chase the speeding car and attempt to force the car off a cliff, but a helicopter arrives in the nick of time and winches the driver to safety as the speeding car flies off of the cliff face.
  • A truck deliberately crashes into the side of a car shattering glass windows and flipping the car over several times before landing on its roof with its two occupants, a man and a woman, left hanging upside down. The man and the woman have some bloody cuts on their faces and the woman is unconscious.
  • A man slams another man against a wall, punches him in the stomach and then grabs him by his shirt front. The two men verbally threaten each other.
  • In the main race a driver is pulled from a burning car by another driver, who then punches the diver of the crashed car in the face.    

Material that may scare or disturb children

Under fiveinfo

Children under five are most likely to be frightened by scary visual images, such as monsters, physical transformations.

In addition to the above-mentioned violent scenes, there are some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children under the age of five, including the following:

  •  Younger children may find  the race and crash scenes intense and disturbing.

Aged five to eightinfo

Children aged five to eight will also be frightened by scary visual images and will also be disturbed by depictions of the death of a parent, a child abandoned or separated from parents, children or animals being hurt or threatened and / or natural disasters.

In addition to the above-mentioned violent scenes and scary visual images, there are some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children aged five to eight, including the following:

  • Children in this age group may also find the race and crash scenes intense and disturbing.

Aged eight to thirteeninfo

Children aged eight to thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic threats and dangers, violence or threat of violence and / or stories in which children are hurt or threatened.

In addition to the above mentioned violent scenes, there are some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children aged eight to thirteen, including the following:

  • A funeral is held for the driver who was killed in an accident and people attending are very distressed and crying.       

Thirteen and overinfo

Children over the age of thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic physical harm or threats, molestation or sexual assault and / or threats from aliens or the occult.

No additional scenes or material.

Product placement

The following products are displayed or used in this movie:

  • High performance street cars are mentioned and depicted: Mercedes SLS, Ford Mustang, and Koenigsegg Agera.
  • A reference is made to Gucci boots.

Sexual references

There are some sexual references in this movie, including:

  • A man makes a comment to a woman “We’re mechanics, we’re not afraid of getting our hands dirty, know what I mean”. The comment having definite sexual connotations.
  • In a glass elevator a man is standing next to a woman; he has a naked upper chest and shoulders and it is implied that he is naked. She looks down at the man’s groin and the man say’s “It’s cold I hear”. 
  • A naked man (seen from behind) chases another man and in conversation the second man calls the naked man “Skinny boy” to which the naked man responds “Oh you were checking me out”.
  • In reference to some men driving muscle cars a woman says, “It makes up for an inferiority complex” and she hold up her little finger and wiggles it implying small penis.

Nudity and sexual activity

There is some nudity and sexual activity in this movie, including:

  • Some scenes contain images of women wearing low-cut tops that reveal some cleavage, tops that reveal mid-drift and short shorts that reveal thighs and buttocks.   
  • A man strips off in an office until he is completely naked (seen from behind). When he is half undressed he grabs a female office worker and kisses her on the mouth and says “I always wanted to do that”.
  • A woman swaps seats with a man driving a car with the woman sitting on the man’s lap for a brief period of time - some sensuality is implied.
  • A man and woman kiss passionately on the lips.  

Use of substances

There is some use of substances in this movie, including:

  • At a restaurant and at a party, people are seen drinking wine, champagne and whiskey; no intoxication is depicted. 
  • In a garage empty bottles of beer are seen on a table and one man is drinking from a bottle of beer: no intoxication is depicted.

Coarse language

The film Need for Speed contains some medium level crude and coarse language. Examples include:

  • Shit, hell, arsehole, arse, miserable bastard, bitch, O my god. 

There is also a lot of name calling throughout the movie such as:

  • Cretins, red neck, stupid, shut up, balls of titanium, Marshal’s balls have just been located and there’re very big, nut sack, insane, Jesus are you are crazy, douche bag, god are you ignorant, crazy little tart.

In a nutshell

Need for Speed, based on the video game of the same name, is a fast action film that will have high appeal to both younger and older adolescent males. The film is made in a similar vein to action/car stunt films of the 1970’s with all of the stunts in the film done live rather than using CGI, giving the stunts and car crashes a greater impact, more realism and more appeal to the target audience. While the film’s lead actor Aaron Paul (Breaking Bad) will attract lots of audience attention, parents will need to keep in mind the impact that the fast cars and stunts depicted in this film will have on teens.   

   The main messages from this movie are
•    As the main themes in the film are based upon revenge and illegal street racing involving the destruction of property and injury without any real-life consequences, the film contains no worthwhile messages. 
Values in this movie that parents may wish to reinforce with their children include:

  • Friendship: throughout the film friendship is promoted as one of the most important values in life with the film’s lead character constantly relying on his close friends for support.
  • Teamwork: throughout the film the lead character relies on his friends to function and work together as a team.   

This movie could also give parents the opportunity to discuss with their children attitudes and behaviours, and their real-life consequences, such as.

  • Parents may wish to discuss with their children the real life consequences (physical, legal, emotional, financial) associated with accidents caused by illegal street car racing.
  • Parents may wish to discuss the manner in which the film objectifies women as sexual objects and the manner in which the film is dominated by male characters. What impact does this have on the film’s target audience?