The movie is described as "a fast-paced, high-octane film rooted in the tradition of the great car culture films of the 70s while being extremely faithful to the spirit of the video game franchise".
Having served a prison sentence after being falsely convicted, street racer and mechanic Tobey Marshall (portrayed by Aaron Paul) plans his revenge.
Upon his release, he enters a cross-country race to save his garage and serve up some much deserved payback to Dino Brewster (portrayed by Dominic Cooper), the ex-business associate who betrayed him. A cunning and wealthy player in the cut-throat world of underground racing, Brewster has eyes and ears everywhere. He receives a heads-up about the clandestine mission of vengeance, and a huge bounty is placed on his ex-partner's head. However, Tobey is determined not to let anything stop him on his quest to get even, no matter how badly the odds are stacked against him.
- The movie takes many elements from various games of the series:
- Tobey starts the movie driving a modified Ford Gran Torino, then switches to a custom Ford Mustang, and ending with a Koenigsegg Agera R, symbolizing the progression of the player towards more powerful cars by advancing through the career modes.
- Tobey starts in the last position at Mount Kisco and DeLeon, and in the games, the player commonly starts in last position.
- The race through the country in order to reach a determined location is comparable to Need for Speed: The Run.
- Tobey is helped in his quest by a crew of friends; building a crew is a central element of Need for Speed: Carbon.
- Dino Brewster is an affirmed professional driver who constantly mocks Tobey, something similar to Ryo Watanabe treatment of Ryan Cooper in Need for Speed: ProStreet.