The Fast and the Furious

| July 7, 2001

So there I was, sitting in the theater with bated breath. Hoping beyond hope that what I’d been waiting for was not going to disappoint me. I was half right.
The Fast and the Furious stars tasty teen heartthrob Paul Walker, and rough-and-tumble Vin Diesel, who incidentally, I would not want to meet in a dark alley. This film is the second part of my Summer Car Movie Extravaganza.
The film starts off with a bang. The opening sequence got my motor revving and ensured I was strapped in for the duration. Thankfully The Fast and the Furious’ runtime is under two hours, otherwise I would have had to hit the brakes.
I hate to give away the plot. Clearly it took about 30 seconds of a cocaine-induced stupor to come up with it. However, if you’ve seen Point Break, then you’ve seen The Fast and the Furious, but without all that pesky acting. I was actually amazed at how closely the two films mirror one another. Though, it is tough to determine who is the better actor between Keanu Reeves (“whoa!”) and Paul Walker (“yo!”).
Vin Diesel plays Dominic Toretto, further confounding us as to his true ethnicity. Vin has a commanding screen presence, mostly because he is intimidating as hell (and an asshole in real life, or so I’m told). He doesn’t quite measure up to the bad boy Patrick Swayze gave us in Point Break, but in Vin’s defense, he didn’t have as much to work with.
The Fast and the Furious is not as stylized as Driven, which hurts the end product. If there were more of a cohesive story, which is a lot to ask for in Hollywood these days, I wouldn’t have as big of a problem with the film. Without a distraction, like all the computer-generated effects in Driven, this film suffers.
My favorite character, and the one who pretty much sums up the film, is Jesse, played by quasi-cutie Chad Lindberg. Jesse is the torqued-out Doogie Howser of cars. 20 minutes into the film, the scene opens with Jesse’s kick-ass computer modeling of a car he and his buddies are going to help Brian (Paul Walker’s character) build. Brian choicely observes, “Dude, you should be at M.I.T. or something.” Jesse comes back with some tragic story of how he could never get through high school (yet for some reason he can program a computer like Bill Gates), then offers, “But I have attention deficiency–something.” “A.D.D.,” Walker astutely observes. I imagine Jesse is director Rob Cohen’s alter ego, as A.D.D. would certainly help when viewing this film.
Cohen must be one of those guys who needs the big, 128 color Crayola box. He tires of one crayon so quickly that he needs lots standing by. Unfortunately, he runs out of Burnt Sienna in this film. Like his treatment of The Skulls, Cohen can turn the drama up, but has no clue how to make it boil. If he ever found that setting on his directorial stove, he’d then need to take a remedial course, “When To End Your Film: 101.” I was ready for the credits to roll almost half a dozen times until they finally did.
There are redeeming qualities of The Fast and the Furious. One is the amazing soundtrack, seemingly a staple of any Gen Y flick these days. BT, who also did the music for Go, Driven and Gone in 60 Seconds, dispenses the Ritalin with his club-inspired beats, and mastery of the car flick genre (hell, he’s had enough practice). Also the clash between cultures is entertaining, especially when you live amongst them. I’m glad I’m not the only person who thinks that all Asian girls teeter about on 10-foot high platform sandals. At one point in the film, I thought I saw a vague Star Wars parallel, but that’d be an insult to Star Wars. The only serious parallel to Star Wars is how closely some of the cars in this film resemble the Millenium Falcon. There’s more plastic on those cars than in all of Beverly Hills’ housewives.
The Fast and the Furious (along with being a *really* long title to keep typing) is not the elegant crap that Driven was. It is, however, a fun blend of Gone in 60 Seconds, Point Break and Romeo Must Die (trust me on that last one). Gearheads: floor it to your nearest megaplex. Everyone else: wait for a matinee.

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