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Fast & Furious (2009)

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Score: 5/10

Genre: Action Running Time: 1 hr. 47 min.

Release Date: April 3rd, 2009 MPAA Rating: PG-13

Director: Justin Lin Actors: Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Jordana Brewster, Michelle Rodriguez, John Ortiz, Gal Gadot

W

hile most car racing video games can boast a plot more complex, “Fast & Furious” provides an ample amount of entertainment for those who find supercharged cars, scantily-clad women, and illegal street-racing action enjoyable. Though there isn’t much competition in this racing subgenre, the fourth installment in the franchise does successfully blend insane stunts with unlawful revenge, some dark humor, and a handful of clever references for audiences familiar with previous entries. Paul Walker tries hard to be cool and Vin Diesel utilizes his best badass impression – and, for the most part, they pull it off. Now if only those CG cars were a little more convincing…

Taking place between “2 Fast 2 Furious” and “Tokyo Drift,” “Fast & Furious” finds Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) and his crew of drivers currently hijacking oil trucks in the Dominican Republic. Fearing the repercussions for his friends, and his lover Letty (Michelle Rodriguez), upon his inevitable capture by the police, Dom leaves for Panama. But when tragedy strikes, the driver finds himself back in Los Angeles where he must team up with former rival Brian O’Conner (Paul Walker) to take down the operation of elusive drug lord Arturo Braga. Though one is on a mission of revenge and the other seeks redemption, both men will learn the value of loyalty, the price of vengeance, and the necessity for a code of honor that goes beyond the limits of the law.

The terribly christened “Fast & Furious” lives up to its name during the opening moments – even before the title flashes onscreen. Every character is introduced with a chase scene, and the first five minutes of footage delivers multiple gratuitous cleavage shots. This is all followed by drastically unrealistic action, supersonic cars, and PG-13 girl-on-girl lip-locking. In its attempt to fulfill the stereotypical macho man’s every fantasy, “Fast & Furious” forgets to tell a story – and ironically doesn’t have enough car chases. Obviously, when it comes to this type of extreme escapism, the story doesn’t really matter; but the gross disregard of physics, momentum, and gravity occasionally insults the intelligence of the audience, regardless of how many of these films they’ve seen. Incidentally, with so many movies to the franchise, street racing is practically its own genre – of which this is sadly the best.

While “Fast & Furious” is the fourth part in the series, it might as well have been a direct sequel to the first film, bringing back more returning characters than the second film could assemble. It’s stunning to see the lengths the filmmakers will go to make speed and ferocity cool – from the unnatural dialogue to the horribly contrived stunts. As the plot merely serves to connect one action sequence to the next (street race, scheme to catch villain, another street race), Dom’s uncanny mental crime scene re-creation and other assorted CSI skills, Mia’s unlikely handiwork with a bullet wound, and the races themselves that make “Death Race” and Podracing appear plausible are frequently too much to let slide. By the end of it all, two things are dangerously apparent: breaking the law is the only way to have fun, and heroin smuggling always leads to street racing. Who knew drugs could lead to reckless driving?

– The Massie Twins

 



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