Fast & Furious Review7.04.09 # Review # 9 Comments
Vin Diesel. Was there ever an actor crying out to be in a Michael Bay movie more than Vin Diesel? Even his name is pure Brainless Bayhem! But alas, the promising all action hero of Saving Private Ryan, Pitch Black and The Iron Giant fame made some really bad career choices and instead of appearing in summer blockbusters like Transformers, Diesel-stand-in Tyrese Gibson gets to instead. So, to redress the balance somewhat, here we are, back where it all (sort of) began: The Fast and the Furious, or, this time around, Fast & Furious.
First off, yes, it’s a lazy title. They clearly want to play down the inferior follow-ups to what was a popular, if critically dismissed, car movie, so they couldn’t have called it The Fast and the Furious 4. What it should rightly be called, although it would be very confusing, is The Fast and the Furious 2. Make no mistake – this is the first and only sequel to The Fast and the Furious, the other two movies were spin-offs.
Fast & Furious opens with Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) behind the wheel during an impressive heist/car chase combo similar to those in the first film, a chase in which the life of Toretto’s girlfriend Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) is seriously endangered. Following this Toretto decides to abandon Letty for her own protection, and so that she no longer has to live life as a fugitive, only for Letty to be fatally attacked in his absence, which makes him furious. Thus, having lived as a fugitive for five years in the Dominican Republic, Toretto returns to the United States hell-bent on revenge.
Toretto is soon reunited with Brian O’Conner (Paul Walker), the FBI agent that facilitated his escape at the end of the first film, who just so happens to be on the trail of the drug trafficker Toretto is after – a drug trafficker hiring illegal street racers. Those contrivances should tell you everything you need to know about the plot – it’s an excuse to get them into their cars! That said, the plot provides motivation for the characters, which elevates the chases beyond senseless action, and the ambivalent relationship that the leads have is maintained. There’s some cringe-worthy dialogue, and some of the character moments feel forced, but you only endure/enjoy those for maybe fifteen minutes at a time, and when they return to the chases, nothing else matters…
The first film was a hit (inspiring videogames and rip-off movies) for a reason, it was about girls and cars and violence and cars – it was cool. Fast & Furious is no different. More of the same? Yeah, absolutely, that’s kind of the point, see title. As it stands it’s the second best movie in the series, and it should be the last. Wait, what? Oh…