“The woman was clever and beautiful, but the man was surly and mean” (1 Samuel 25: 3).
Back when King David was an outlaw, you may recall, he met a beautiful woman named Abigail, who was married to Nabal. The Bible tells us Nabal was not only very rich, but surly and mean – and not only that, Nabal’s name means “Fool” in Hebrew. Nabal and David were contentious rivals, but Abigail helped David, and there was an obvious attraction between the two of them.
In the movie “Need For Speed,” Tobey Marshall (Aaron Paul) is the outlaw attracted to Anita (Dakota Johnson), who’s now married to the rich, surly and mean Dino Brewster (Dominic Cooper), the bitter rival of Tobey. Dino is a successful race car driver, but he’s also unscrupulous. Tobey is talented, but is on the fringes of the race car circuit – he and his buddies have a little mechanic’s shop where they customize dragsters after hours. They’re under-the-radar, but a close fellowship, and – like David and his band of bandits – very loyal to each other.
Tobey is a “natural,” but he’s a bit of a rebel, preferring private drag races on country roads. When one of those turns into a disaster resulting in a fatality, Tobey gets blamed, though it’s really Dino who’s at fault, but he isn’t admitting it, and Tobey is the one who winds up hunted by the law (just as David was hunted by Saul).
Anita, realizing how surly, mean and unscrupulous her husband really is, winds up helping Tobey (just as Abigail helped David), realizing full well that doing so meant the end of her comfortable life as a rich man’s wife. In the Bible , David and Abigail wind up together and Nabal meets a discredited end. Of course, we also know that David had other women in his life besides Abigail. In this movie, we’re not quite sure if Anita and Tobey wind up together, but we do know that another woman is in Tobey’s life, Julia (Imogen Poots), who helps him make the cross-country trek to the famous clandestine race with the big cash prize. The whole road cross-country road trip they’re chased by both the police and the toughs sent by Dino to slow them down.
So we have lots of car chase scenes. Lots of footage of driving fast, almost like a video game (yes, the movie is apparently based on a video game). The relationship between Tobey and Julia develops into a prickly partnership, especially since she can also drive a little, but it doesn’t really seem to be a big romance. We’re far too busy driving fast cars to worry much about relationships, anyway.
Oh, and Tobey needs to prove that he’s the king, despite the fact that someone else happens to occupy the throne and the palace right now – kind of like David, before he actually became the king. Of course, even then he tended to get bored by inactivity and get himself into trouble, as Tobey does.
This one is for all the adrenalin junkies out there who prefer movies that feel like testosterone injections. Not what you’d call a “chick flick,” but just rooting for the good ol’ bad boy to come out on top at the end. Just like David the giant-slayer did.
Ronald P. Salfen is the minister at St. Stephen’s Presbyterian Church in Irving, Texas.