Fast and the Furious

Running on Diesel

         
 

01 September 2009| No Comments     by Sean Chavel

 

Crapola but it doesn’t taste that bad. We’re at installment 4 and Vin Diesel and Paul Walker are back in Fast & Furious which has a number of upgrades that might mean more to B-movie lovers than to car lovers. The dialogue has a Schwarzenegger braindead pulp, the action has Michael Bay aerodynamics but suffused with tactical choreography, the cinematography has a smoky-noir Tony Scott touch and there are some tacky-but-nifty video game graphics that work as an interface GPS navigation device inside the vehicles. Trashy watchability, sure, but it evaporates faster than carbon dioxide. Probably because none of these characters have ever been that as awesome as their tricked-out rides.

Giddily, the opening pits Dom (Diesel) and his crew in a hi-jacking attempt of a big rig vehicle on the treacherous mountain roads of the Dominican Republican. The super-charged but rhythmic cutting gets an immediate grip on your action cravings, with an outrageously preposterous shot of Dom zipping his vehicle underneath a flipping tanker on fire that depends on flawless split-second timing.

The plot is a potboiler of convenient and obvious elements designed to bring everybody back. This time, Dom returns to L.A. to avenge a drug kingpin who is responsible for his girlfriend’s death. F.B.I. agent O’Connor (Walker) is also on the trail of the same man, a mysterious nemesis named Braga. Dom and O’Connor will cooperate with each other while law enforcement superiors try to make O’Connor look incompetent and Dom look like a worse guy than he really is. See, the higher ranks of the F.B.I. think the worst of Dom (they should) and O’Connor (huh?).

Another reprise is Dom’s 1970 Dodge Charger which suffered major demolishment in Part I but has been restored to full glory. Dom’s and O’Connor’s autos make an obligatory entry into a a corkscrewr street drag race, the best of the series. The racing culture features flocks of scantily clad babes parading around in stilettos (Hey, just what I really wanted). Hardcore house and reggae music blasts the soundtrack. As you can see, you can count on the familiar elements.

The acting is just, ehh. Diesel is fueled up on avenging rage, Walker looks more like a chiseled grown-up rather than a teen idol magazine cover, and Brewster acts less like a waif than as a sultry Demi Moore prototype with tomboy instincts. The dialogue goes for a more splintering badass attitude but is sometimes just limp. Yet, of course, there is a wider selection of muscle and import cars than ever before (the Porsche Cayman 2007 is best!) Professional surface polish.

In my review of the previous installment “Tokyo Drift” I wrote, “The races are shapeless montages of flash and color with no evidenced strategy that compliment the art of drag racing.” I was surprised to learn that “Drift” director Justin Lin returned to helm this sequel. Lin’s kinetic but clarified visual styling has changed unexpectedly and for the better. On a braindead night, this is entertainment that zips along. It’s just hardly needed. What the director, and the franchise, needed to work with are better written dialogue and spikier repartee. Because hours later for the viewer, you can’t remember any sounds from it. You just remember the stoicism of the poster.

107 Minutes. Rated PG-13.

ACTION & ADVENTURE / GUILTY PLEASURES / SATURDAY NIGHT BONEHEAD MOVIE

Film Cousins: “Gone in 60 Seconds” (2000); “The Fast and the Furious” (2001); 2 Fast 2 Furious” (2003); “The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift” (2006).


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Sean Chavel

About The Author / Sean Chavel

Sean Chavel is a Hollywood based author and movie reviewer. He is the Executive Director of flickminute.com, a new website that has adapted the movie review site genre by introducing moodbased and movie experience based reviews.

 

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