Vin Diesel made a splash in 2000 with two good sleepers. In Boiler Room, he played a fast and furious, not-quite-legal stockbroker. He was tough, a little dumb, but sympathetic. In Pitch Black, he led half a dozen crash survivors on a distant planet. His character was as evil as they come, and yet he had redeeming qualities. In any case, his tough-guy persona played very well on the big screen, guaranteeing him a lucrative (if not artistically successful) career ahead.
In The Fast and The Furious he reprises his role from Pitch Black, a bad guy with a troubled past, but who is not beyond redemption. The setting is not a faraway planet, but the streets of L.A. Instead of a sci-fi action movie, The Fast and The Furious is a car chase movie.
The Cast and The Curious
PG-13 for violence, language
2 Fast 2 Furious, the inevitable sequel.
Did You Notice?
Brian (Paul Walker) is new in town. He loves his sports car, tricked out, souped up, and glowing green. He finds the street race crowd, and on his first night he bets his car on a race. He loses to the local veteran Dom (Vin Diesel), but is accepted into the clique, which is really all he was hoping for.
The L.A. street racing crowd is enjoyably diverse. There’s Michelle Rodriguez (who amazed critics with her debut in Girlfight) as the tough, fast-driving girl in the gang. Mia (Jordana Brewster), Dom’s sister, is more feminine and the object of Brian’s affection. Vince (Matt Schulze) is written as the evil foil to Brian’s surfer-blond hero. He’s almost out of place because he’s such a neanderthal, but he’s the number two man in Dom’s gang.
Adding the comic relief is Chad Lingbergh, playing Jessie, an engine-savant with Attention whaddyacallit disorder. He’s the character we non-aggressive types can identify with.
Nitrous Oxide in its Blood
The plot eventually meanders toward a band of truck-jackers who use three black Hondas (customized with street-racing accessories) to bring down their prey. Brian leads us in to the depths of the car culture as he tries to find out who the jackers are.
But this film is not about the plot.
I often complain than an action movie has “too much plot, not enough action.” Well The Fast and The Furious is a movie that does not have too much plot, and that does have enough action.
The action takes the form of super-fast car races that take place on the streets and back lots of L.A. Interspersed are impressive scenes of Honda cars harrying tractor-trailers out on the open highways. Before the movie can bog down in exposition or conflict, director Rob Cohen cuts to another chase.
Gas Tank for a Brain
Driving back from the theater with two afficionados, I discovered that The Fast and The Furious does not hold up to scrutiny. The whole truck-jacking story seemed out of place with the rest of the film, as though it were a piece from the wrong puzzle, pounded into place by a stubborn child.
And even though the film goes into detail about the subculture of modified street cars, my knowledgeable friends felt there were some missed opportunities. They wanted to see cameos by legends in the (admittedly obscure) field. They wanted to see loving shots of the camera moving across the car as though it were a landscape. They wanted more authenticity and more rewards for those in the know.
But all in all, The Fast and The Furious is good fun. It has a loud rock soundtrack, good looking cars, and adrenaline-pumping chases. And if that’s all you expect, you won’t be disappointed.