Movie Review: The Fast and the Furious

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An undercover cop Brian O’Connor infiltrates a street racing gang, but when he befriends the gang’s leader Dom Toretto and falls for Dom’s sister Mia, he has to decide where his loyalties really lie.

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Rob Cohen

The plot of this one is pretty thin. Brian (Paul Walker) cozies up to the street gang with his killer driving skills and has a serious bromance with Dom (Vin Diesel). He meets the gang, mostly a bunch of guys trying to prove their toughness and Michelle Rodriguez actually being tough despite just being Vin Diesel’s girlfriend without much more of a role in the movie. There are a lot of car scenes – chases, races, a train dodge – around what is essentially a less awesome Point Break with cars. These people’s whole lives apparently revolve around cars, including stealing things with cars in order to buy better cars. Brian’s job is to investigate a series of robberies that the cops think Dom’s organising, but that’s such a thin plot that it’s almost instantly forgettable.

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The movie moves along at a click, and they put some genuine effort into giving both Diesel and Walker a back story. Vin Diesel is doing his broody tough guy with a heart thing at its peak here (and he looks so young, too), while Paul Walker…um, has blue eyes and drives a lot. The car chases are shot with a lovingly detailed eye, giving the races genuine tension. The plot is so-so at best, relying on a lot of subplots – Brian’s rivalry with another driver who also likes his girl, an Asian criminal from a rich family whose bust provides Brian with something to prove, Chad Lindberg as an ADHD-suffering car genius who gets himself into trouble – in order to sustain the momentum when they’re not driving cars. The cops and the criminals are painted with broadly the same brush – they’re all jerks, so which side do you pick? It would almost be interesting if Brian weren’t such a dull white bread character.

It’d be easy enough to dismiss The Fast and the Furious as a forgettable summer blockbuster if not for its obvious legacy – the movies continue to perform at the box office, and aside from this year’s appalling Riddick, Vin Diesel seems to be tied up with them most of the time. They clearly tap into the macho obsession with cars, explosions, and sex – there are half-naked girls all through this film, almost entirely as sex objects (neither Michelle Rodriguez nor Jordana Brewster has her own storyline in this film). The characters seem almost incidental, and the cars are treated like people – the thought of losing one turns Lindberg’s character almost suicidal. There are some strange choices in the cinematography, particularly during the train dodge scene – I think they’re trying to make everything seem more tense, but making everything weirdly blurry doesn’t have the desired effect. It’s a proficiently made action film, but not a great one by any stretch of the imagination.

The Fast and the Furious on IMDb

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