Right off the bat, if you expect anything out of this movie other than awesome cars, hot girls, and several sporadically placed kick ass race and chase sequences; then you’ve just rented or bought the wrong DVD. The entire “Fast and Furious” franchise (try as they might) has never been based on intricate plots or well-defined characters, it’s kind of like watching porn, but instead of sex there’s car racing, most times you just want to fast forward and get to the “real action.” And when the action comes up in this film it delivers, with some really kick ass sequences, my favorite is a high-speed illegal street race through downtown LA. The characters are stiff and boring, but the cars are both fast and furious and that’s really all you should expect. But my review is after the jump:
The fourth installment to the franchise begins with Dominic (Diesel), Letty (Rodriguez), and their band of merry outlaws pulling a high speed and highly intense heist of gas tankers out in the middle of the desert. This is a fantastic sequence with cars doing complete 180’s and then hitting full speed in reverse and Michelle Rodriguez dangling from the semi at high speeds proving again she’s a bad ass. The scene is tightly paced and elaborately choreographed, ending with a humongous explosion. What better way to start the film? Then we get to the boring stuff, an actual story.
The film sets up that the cops are closing in on Dominic, so he disappears in the night leaving Letty behind to protect her. Then we jump to a foot chase sequence with Brian O’Connor (Walker) after a gang banger through an apartment building, with lots of acrobatic roof jumping and finally both of them landing on a car smashing the hell out of it. O’Connor is now in the FBI, which was a major WTF moment for me, I didn’t buy Paul Walker as an undercover police officer in the first two, let alone now this poor man’s Keanu Reeves is in the FBI, guess they take anyone who looks pretty these days.
Here comes the twist SPOILER WARNING…
Letty ends up getting killed, so already they kill off one of the four original characters, which I thought was pretty lame since Michelle Rodriguez is way more interesting to watch then either of these brooding hulkazoids. So now Dom is looking for her killer and O’Connor is trying to nab the main drug trafficking kingpin named Braga who runs illegal street racing in LA and guess what? Braga was involved in Letty’s death. So after a begrudging reunion Dom and O’Connor team up to take Braga down. What follows are some really lame plot building investigation scenes, but the film does deliver well in the realm of action. So when the cars are racing I love it, when the actors are “acting” I’m checking my email.
Like I mentioned earlier there is the awesome gas tanker heist in the beginning and probably the best scene in the movie is an incredibly dangerous looking all-terrain race through downtown LA, where several wrecked cars are piled up along the way. This sequence where our two main boys go head to head with a bevy of other douche drivers is exactly what the series is about. This race succeeds so well because it’s all-practical. That is one of my favorite things about this film; none of the car crashes are CGI. It’s real metal on metal action, the way action scenes should be. The ending is a little lackluster with a chase in underground tunnels, but soon it’s unleashed again with a great vengeance kill by Dom (won’t spoil it, it’s pretty bad ass).
The long and short of it is, this film is not a great movie by any means, but the action is exciting and it appeases the inner 13 year old that still exists in some of us. It’s an adolescent dream: cool cars, thunderous crashes, and hot babes. Not much below the surface here, but the demographic this film is aiming for wouldn’t want any more depth anyway. “Fast & Furious” achieves what it set out to do, but doesn’t bring anything entirely new to the table. I had fun watching this, but won’t remember anything but the action in months to come, plot is completely superfluous.
Feature Commentary with Director Justin Lin
Several well-done featurettes that are a gear-heads wet dream:
Under the Hood: Muscle Cars & Imports
High Octane Action: The Stunts
Shooting the Big Rig Heist- THIS IS AWESOME!! Really cool to see how the big opener was shot
Car Chases and Races- ANOTHER AWESOME ONE!! This shows each action scene and how they shot it and all the practical elements and stunt work that went into it
Driving School with Vin Diesel
Los Bandoleros – a short film directed by Vin Diesel that serves as a prequel to the opening of this film. NO CAR CHASES OR ACTION, this plays out more like an indie drama. Kind of boring to be honest, but if you’re invested in the characters then check it out.