You could see how a young actor might get notions about themselves after being a big part of the most acclaimed television series of all time. You know, figuring certain roles were beneath them, banging on about the mystical aspects of 'the work' or refusing to do anything but Chekhov plays. So, it's heartening to report that Aaron Paul's first post-Breaking Bad project is an unashamed popcorn movie. And a good one at that.

The history of video games becoming films is not a particularly happy one, but while Need for Speed borrows a title, a fanbase and muscle cars for its cinema debut, the makers have come up with an original story and hero. They can thank the casting gods for giving them the wisdom to put Paul behind the wheel.

He plays Tobey Marshall, a street racer and custom car builder who gets an offer he can't refuse, winds up somewhere he can't leave and then sets about evening the score by putting his foot to the floor. Dominic Purcell plays his black polo neck-wearing rival; Imogen Poots is the fun and snarky love interest and there's a supporting cast of sassy sidekicks who are more likeable than this type of thing usually permits. Of course, you get far-fetched and some clichés, but there are wow moments too, and the pacing is exactly as it needs to be.

Stuntman-turned-director Scott Waugh and writer brothers John (Flight, Real Steel) and George Gatins know their horsepower history: from settings to set-pieces Need for Speed pays tribute to great motor movies and even includes pit-stop pilgrimages to Detroit and Bonneville Salt Flats. Cinematographer Shane Hurlbut proves himself to be as adept at wide open spaces as tight angles, and from '69 Ford Gran Torinos to Koenigsegg Agera Rs, the petrolhead porn on offer will prove as satisfying for know-all as novice. Some of the latter might even be tempted to finally sit their test.

With this, leading man Paul now has a new set of customers on his hands - and they'll be just as anxious for the next hit as anyone down Albuquerque way.

Harry Guerin