New Model. Original Parts. Career Resurrection?
Director: Justin Lin
Notable Cast: Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Michelle Rodriguez, Jordana Brewster, John Ortiz, Laz Alonso
The revving of engines, the smell of exhaust, and scantily clad women gyrating along the hoods of souped-up Japanese imports. Yep, it must be another installment of The Fast and the Furious franchise. If movies like Saw have “torture porn” as its albatross, well this series should be maligned as “car porn.” It may only be PG-13, but viewers get their jollies watching hot chicks kissing each other, muscle cars, hot chicks dancing and the CGI-enhanced driving stunts. Did I mention the hot chicks?
In 2006 the filmmakers made a movie without any of the original stars. It failed, and now the “original parts,” as the tagline implies, are back. Eight years have passed since we last saw Vin Diesel and Paul Walker onscreen together. However, Walker did reprise his role in 2 Fast 2 Furious, and Diesel’s character had a small cameo in Tokyo Drift. Besides the male leads, Jordana Brewster and Michelle Rodriguez return as well. To make sure this F&F ties in with the third one, the character of Han (Sung Kang) makes an appearance. And like its predecessor Justin Lin returns as director.
I did have a soft spot for 2 Fast 2 Furious, I must admit. (I told everyone that the male camaraderie on display rivaled the volleyball scene in Top Gun.) It’s brainless – they all are – but by now you’d wish the filmmakers fuel-inject the series with a better story.
There are some things to like about this installment. It gets off to a promising start with Diesel and his crew trying to steal tankers of fuel in the Dominican Republic. Though, judging by the widths of the road and the steep incline, a fuel truck should not be on that stretch of road. But the action that is generated because of this oversight is forgivable. The racing stunts are well choreographed and don’t give you a whiplash effect like Quantum of Solace did. But when the driving stops, the movie slips into neutral. Racing is when the interesting stuff happens, the in between scenes are merely space fillers.
Another issue is the lack of continuity. In the original F&F Brian O’Conner (Walker) was an undercover cop infiltrating a gang led by Dominic Toretto (Diesel). Five years after letting Diesel get away their paths cross after a surprising death. Diesel wants revenge. Walker, now an FBI agent, is building a case to bring down a powerful drug kingpin. Now I’m confused. When did the FBI start hiring cops who let criminals get away?
It’s disappointing that Diesel has misspent the fortune that was handed to him after the success of The Fast and the Furious and xXx. He was projected as the musclehead that would bring back the days of the big action hero. That didn’t pan out. To this date his most versatile performance is from the little seen Find Me Guilty by director Sidney Lumet. Walker and the rest of the support staff don’t elevate the material either. Even the bad guys, John Ortiz and Laz Alonso, are standard variety hoods.
If you enjoyed the three previous movies in the series, the chances are good that this review won’t dissuade you from seeing this one. The first film explored the influx of import speedsters and the nuts and bolts of the underground racing culture. It was hip and interesting. Now each new movie seems to regurgitate the same story (fast cars and criminal activity). While it can be entertaining at times, it’s all very basic and repetitive. But if you crave brainless action, Fast & Furious is your momentary fix before the summer movie season begins.
FINAL RATING (ON A SCALE OF 1-5 BUCKETS):
Tags: Fast & Furious, Jordana Brewster, Michelle Rodriguez, Paul Walker, Vin Diesel