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Review: Fast & Furious

Fast & Furious
Apr. 3, 2009by:
5 10

PLOT: When Dom Toretto is released from prison, he teams up with FBI agent Brian OíConnor. While OíConnor is looking to bust open a heroin importer, Dom has a whole different set of reasons to be working with the cop who betrayed him. But donít worry, cars go really fast and things blow up in this fourth installment in Universalís Fast and the Furious franchise.

REVIEW: A few weeks ago my transmission gave out on my car. At first, the mechanic mentioned that itíd be really expensive to fix it, so he wanted to know if it was really worth it. After a little finagling, I was able to get him to bring down the price and he had someone dig down and put that baby back together. So maybe that is what Universal was thinking when it came to the latest installment in the Fast and the Furious franchise. Go back and put it all together with some of the original parts, and make it look shiny and new. Well, FAST AND FURIOUS certainly looks shiny and new. And just like my car, it drives pretty well when it comes to the frenetic action and explosions. But my car happens to have more substance than this big and loud sequel, but that is not necessarily a terrible thing. Well, sometimes it isnít.

The thing about F&F, I happen to like the fact that they brought back Vin Diesel, Michelle Rodriguez, Paul Walker and Jordana Brewster. It was a good idea and frankly, this latest model is entertaining enough to warrant a watch if you are a fan of the franchise. It feels more like a sequel than the last two, and it sports a couple really great action set pieces. One sequence finds Paul Walkerís undercover FBI agent, Brian OíConnor chasing some sleazy criminal in a very memorable bit of running and jumping. And there is also the finale, and while I wonít give anything away, it was a smashing good time and had a few folks in the audience cheering when I saw the film. Hell, the opening sequence is so much fun you almost forget how clichťd the script will be when it comes to character development and intelligence. The fourth time around, director Justin Lin (who also took on Tokyo Drift) creates some visually arresting surprises along the way. Just donít expect much depth aside from 'car go fast'.

Now Iím sure this isnít all that surprising, but aside from the main four, the other characters here are so flat and uninteresting that I donít really remember the point of the film. Yeah, there is a bad guy and he pissed both OíConnor and Vin Dieselís Dom Toretto off, so the two end up side by side again. But one is a cop see, and the other is like a criminal, see. There is a whole lot of nonsense spread throughout as to the who and the what and the where of it, when frankly, I didnít care one iota about what was going on. The bad guys are sort of dull stereotypes, although I had some fun with Laz Alonso who has some of the lamest tattoos ever. He just feels like a caricature of a bad ass that mightíve appeared in a Bugs Bunny cartoon. I donít necessarily think that Mr. Alonso is to blame, and I kind of had fun watching him wanna kill someone all the time, but damn, what a silly character. The weakest link here is Gal Godot. Nothing her character does is even slightly believable. She is simply used to move the plot forward and that is all. Her delivery is wooden and she makes for a very uninteresting hottie that is way too convenient for the plots sake.

But in the end, I think I had a better time with this louder and more obnoxious sequel than the earlier films. As for the original parts, I had fun seeing both Jordana Brewster and Michelle Rodriguez sort of grow up a little as Mia Toretto and Letty. But both are criminally underused, especially Ms. Rodriguez. That was a wasted opportunity with Letty and I really wonder what the hell they were thinking. She added a lot of charm in her scenes with the Vin. Speaking of Vin, how about the fellas? Well both Mr. Diesel and Paul Walker are pretty comfortable in their roles, so comfortable in fact that they are neither good nor bad, they are just there. Although I did kind of appreciate when Paul gets all pissed off this time around. Luckily he does it a few times and he did his best work beating some sorry sap down. But the bland nature of the drama didnít help either of them. Seriously, the fact that the girls looked as good as they did for the serious moments is truly impressive.

While F&F is faster and more furious than the past few films, it is still pretty empty inside. But you really canít expect too much at this point from the franchise other than what you get here. If you are a fan, I think there is absolutely some good fun to be had. Donít expect to care too much about the plot or anything else for that matter. But if you just want to see some thrilling action sequences and a ridiculously implausible finale that will make about half of the audience mildly cheer, then you could certainly do worse. My rating 5.5/10 -- JimmyO



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