Genre: Action and Crime Drama Running Time: 1 hr. 46 min.
Release Date: June 22nd, 2001 MPAA Rating: PG-13
Director: Rob Cohen Actors: Paul Walker, Vin Diesel, Michelle Rodriguez, Jordana Brewster, Ted Levine, Rick Yune, Chad Lindberg, Ja Rule, Thom Barry
truck full of Panasonic electronics is arranged (though not arranged sensibly inside the truck) to be hijacked by a gang of rather hi-tech robbers who use grappling-hook guns, instant-knock-out chemicals, and speedy Hondas to take control of the semi and its precious cargo in the dead of night. It’s the latest in a string of million-dollar thefts that have baffled the authorities, including a joint operation with the FBI – one that will need an undercover agent to get into the street racing world to garner some insight into which group is behind the heists. “We’re in the political crosshairs now.”
Meanwhile, mechanic Brian Earl Spilner (Paul Walker) frequents a cafe run by Mia Toretto (Jordana Brewster), whose brother Dominic (Vin Diesel) is the most revered driver in the area. Whatever modifications he does to his vehicles, the entire neighborhood wants to copy them. Brian can’t seem to get into the street racing crowd, failing to be taken seriously by his peers, which he so desperately wants; but when he butts into a scheduled competition, waging his own souped-up ride against Dominic and several other experienced racers, he’s destined to earn a little respect – or, at least, a little recognition among the Hollywood car community. In the mix is Dominic’s girlfriend Letty (Michelle Rodriguez), territorial Asian gangsters led by Johnny Tran (Rick Yune), and plenty of police intent on shutting down all the illegal activities.
The setup is lot like the “Scream” or “I Know What You Did Last Summer” movies, full of attractive young stars, a hip soundtrack, and adolescent subjects – from street fights to testosterone-fueled rivalry (and flirtations, both containing over-the-top tough talk) to slender and sinewy figures seducing and groping one another (girls offer themselves up to winners or kiss at a party just for extra PG-13-levels of eroticism) to police chases to turf wars. There are no slasher elements, but many of the character interactions are about the same as in those aforementioned films, introducing enough personas that a level of mystery exists concerning who might be the culprits. “You a cop?”
However, even as the plot begins to almost identically resemble “Point Break,” it’s evident that the real purpose of this production is fast-car porn. Filling in details with generic backstories about heroic fathers meeting untimely demises, or tough choices between loyalty to newfound friends and adherence to a law-abiding profession, or a flimsy romance, are largely unimportant fillers to transition between car races. Sadly, intermittent CG additives augment these sequences, intending to amplify the excitement but only cheapening any sense of realism, which is a shame when other moments boast genuine action photography. Although there’s a build to the final reveals and revelations, they’re ultimately trivial in the face of ultra-swift driving and a handful of amusing vehicle-based stunts (and crashes). The camaraderie just isn’t as potent as the brief adrenaline, which is obvious with the extremely uninspired nature of the scripting and character development, along with the coincidental and unresolved ludicrousness of the finale. This is an incredibly insincere look at dramatized cops and robbers. “Can we go for a drive?”
– Mike Massie
The Fast & Furious Franchise