The SmarK DVD Rant for Fast and Furious


Man, Van Diesel. After the first The Fast & The Furious movie, everyone thought he was poised to be a megastar, and then he kind of pissed it away with bizarre casting choices and turning down the sequel. Not that it made Paul Walker into any kind of international movie idol either, but he’s not hurting for work at least.

Now admittedly I’m not a gearhead or a huge fan of the franchise in general, but I did enjoy the first two movies. And, well, I saw the third movie, and we’ll leave it at that. Maybe you had to really like drift racing to get all the layers, I dunno. Really though, the title sounds like a generic ’80s buddy movie — "Paul Walker is Detective Arnold Fast, and Vin Diesel is Agent Sal Furious! Together they’re FAST AND FURIOUS!" Actually I’d totally watch that movie.

Anyway, now Vin is happily reunited with Paul Walker and all is right with the world again. And wouldn’t you know, the key to a major crime ring in LA can only be discovered by Walker going undercover into the world of illegal street racing. Again. Meanwhile, Vin (as Dom) returns to LA, tormented by the death of his woman, giving us lots of meaningful glares at the camera to show how much pain he’s in. It’s a little misleading, actually, because his woman is Michelle Rodriguez and she’s right there on the cover of the DVD. Pretty good payday for 15 minutes of work, I guess. Although really, putting her behind the wheel of a car for two hours would be a recipe for disaster anyway.

Really, all the nebulous plot points are just excuses to hang NOS-fuelled car chases on, and that’s mostly OK. In fact, I’d call this movie a very worthwhile educational experience. For instance, I learned the following fun facts:

1. Jumping through a plate glass window is relatively harmless and will leave you with no visible scars or blood loss. In fact, for making a dramatic entrance, it’s often preferable to using the door! Windshield glass is equally fragile and will break by running an elbow into it, also with no damage to the human body.

2. If you want your car to go faster, shift gears. Street racing cars are apparently specially outfitted with up to 120 different gears, each faster than the last, judging by how many shots of the actors dramatically up and down-shifting we get in any given race sequence.

3. Large-scale heroin dealers recruit new members by way of street races and don’t even conduct background checks.

4. Nitro-powered street racers can do their thing, in the middle of a busy highway in Los Angeles, without a single police car or news helicopter paying any attention whatsoever. So I recommend you do all your dangerous driving in LA.

The plot here is rather meandering, even by the thin standards of the franchise, although there’s a nice bit of conflict when we (and Dom) discover who his beloved dead girlfriend was REALLY working for. And hey, it leads to O’Connor using a triangle choke in a real fight, something you don’t often see. But really the movie is trying to be a lot more clever than it needs to be, and the long stretches of "acting" and "dialogue" in between the car chases just make you more antsy for the next car chase. Really, this one could have used some Michael Bay Bad Boys excess and punching up in the script, but it still made over $200 million worldwide, so what do I know? I guess it’s worth a rental.

Audio & Video

I think I’m getting spoiled by Blu-Ray, because standard DVDs are starting to look a bit fuzzy to me. Overall this is a nice looking disc, though, with bright colors of the street racing scenes popping off the screen and the cars looking acceptably cool and dangerous. Audio is only Dolby 5.1, and it’s a very aggressive mix, as you’d expect for a movie like this. Dialogue is mixed well, and the bass is BOOMING for the racing scenes and frequent action breaks. There’s also some good directional work in the races, with cars zooming from front to back of the sound field.

Bonus Features

Universal sent the single-disc edition, which is fine by me because this isn’t the type of movie I’m gonna watch more than once anyway. You get a director’s commentary here, and a gag reel.

The Pulse

Well, you get pretty much what you’d expect here. Paul Walker is fast and Vin Diesel is furious. Together they’re racing all the way to the bank and probably a fifth crappy movie in this series that won’t die as long as teenaged boys are into muscle cars and hot chicks.

Recommendation to avoid.

Tags: , , ,