Movie: Fast & Furious

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Reinstated cop Brian O’Connor reunites with his old frenemy Dom Toretto when a tragedy befalls a friend and they find a common enemy.

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Justin Lin, 2009

The film starts with a bang – literally – when Dom (Vin Diesel), girlfriend Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) and their crew rip off a fuel tanker south of the US border. Shortly thereafter Letty is killed, causing Dom to spiral and go on a mission of revenge against everyong involved in her murder. Meanwhile, Brian (Paul Walker) is back in with the feds, and is sent undercover with the same group that Dom is seeking revenge against, putting the two on the same path for the first time since the first film in the series. Old passions are rekindled and sparks fly as the old group collides, including some fights, hook-ups, and of course lots and lots of car races and chases.

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This film is predictable, but it’s probably the best film in the series so far. Director Justin Lin, attached to the franchise from the third film through to the most recent installment, instills a sleek chrome-plated look to the series, but it’s the revenge-driven plot that holds this film together the most. It’s saying something when the highlight of your series is hey, at least there’s a coherent plot and no Tyrese. Shifting the focus from bland blond Paul Walker to broody brawler Vin Diesel was a smart move, as was bringing back the bromance that made the first film work. The car scenes in this film are a lot more consistently good in this film, too, from the opening heist (and man, do I love a heist) to a chase through tunnels and a race that sees Brian jumping bridges (with a horribly misogynistic GPS, a first as far as I know). Vin Diesel puts in a dark, muscular performance and ably handles the lead, leaving Paul Walker to play second fiddle, which is where he’s better off anyway. Liza Lapira also puts in an appearance as his co-worker at the FBI, which is great, because I love Liza Lapira.

Have no fear, car fans. The cars are still a major focus of the film despite there being an actual plot and some character growth this time around. The camera still makes love to them as often as possible, and gives them more opportunity to show off than ever; there are some amusing lines that showcase Brian’s particular love of cars (particularly when a co-worker says they’ll catch Dom Toretto and he mumbles “not in your car, you won’t”). The FBI (an upgrade from the cops) still contain jerks, but are painted as less of an evil organisation than before, which puts the responsibility for Brian’s moral dilemma more squarely on Brian’s own shoulders. There are some cheesy lines about whether he’s a good guy pretending to be a bad guy or the other way around, but the battle of his allegiances is made more fun when both sides have something to offer. The girls still get relegated to fridges and the background despite being on all the promotional material, which isn’t a surprise with a series this misogynistic. Michelle Reodriguez, still the most interesting person in the series, gets all of five minutes of screentime before getting fridged, while Jordana Brewster plays house for most of the film, still the love interest of one male lead and the sister of the other. Both girls get to drive cars in this film, though less than Devon Sawa does in the second film – it’d be nice to see them actually be as cool as the guys. The sexism is becoming more and more irritating as the series progresses – women mostly serve as sexual objects or someone to do bad things to in order to move the men’s storylines forwards. I’m not interested in the excuse that it’s just a fun summer blockbuster, there’s no reason to fridge women ever.

Fast & Furious on IMDb

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