Posted on 11/28/09 09:38 AM
Fast cars, hot girls, and pure exploitation B-movie fun. That pretty much sums up why I enjoyed Rob Cohen?s 2001 hit ?The Fast and the Furious.? The latter made stars like Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, and Michelle Rodriquez household names and the chance at stardom. The sequel, titled ?2 Fast 2 Furious? is pure garbage entertainment. The flat one-liners that are suppose to be funny, the ridiculous chase sequences in substitution for simple drag racing, and the absence of basically every major component to the first movie, with the exception of Walker, hurt the second installment considerably. ?Tokyo Drift? was the first film to take the street racing world out of the country. Does it work? Not really. But it is a step up from its predecessor and features a fun little cameo from Diesel at the end. Justin Lin is now back to direct the franchise?s fourth installment titled, ?Fast & Furious.? As a fan of the original, and with the cast returning, you can say that I was more pumped for this entry than the regular movie-goer would be. Perhaps nostalgia has a lot to do with my love for ?The Fast and the Furious,? because ?Fast & Furious? is just as boring as its lame title suggests.
It?s been five years since Officer Brian O?Connor (Walker) rolled with the Torretto?s (Diesal) street racing gang. The opening sequence is similar to what unfolded in the original. Dom, with the help of some friends (Han from ?Tokyo Drift? for starters) and the supposed love of his life Letty, are seen hijacking fuel tanks in the Dominican Republic. After the heist goes terribly wrong, Dom feels compelled to leave after Han informs him of his departure to Tokyo. He fleas to Panama. His sister Mia (Brewster) suddenly calls her brother Dom and tells him that Letty has been killed. Trying to pull off his best Punisher impression, Dom goes to the states, as a wanted man, in search for Letty?s murderer. Meanwhile, Officer O?Connor (Walker) has been reinstated in law enforcement and now works for the FBI. He is assigned to track down Arturo Braga, the same drug lord whose responsible for Letty?s death. Receiving the same information in tracking down David Park, Dom and Brian finally meet for the first time in five years. They eventually form a shaky alliance to go undercover and capture the wanted Braga.
The story presented plays a lot like ?2 Fast 2 Furious,? but instead of embracing a ?buddy cop? mentality, Lin instead focuses on the wittered relationship between Dom and Brian. Of course there is a lot to be desired in terms of character and plot, but lets move on to what people really want out of these things; the action and entertainment. The opening sequence is the best of the bunch?well it is the only good action set-piece in the entire film. You can tell Lin put a lot into this scene, filling the atmosphere with fiery kinetic energy while showcasing a fun and action packed finale to end the hiest. The first and only race between Dom and Brian is mediocre, and probably way too complex for its own good. In the first film, director Cohen embraced simplicity and was better for it. Something about four cars simply racing in a straight line, while expertly shot intrigues me more so than a twisty, chaotic, ridiculous race. It would eventually come down to a quarter mile race, but the excitement that I was looking for was completely absent.
I think most of the blame relies on the poorly written script from Chris Morgan. It lacks the light fun that David Ayer was able to install in the first entry. Call me crazy, but the subplots involving Dom?s friends was part of the fun I had in 2001. In addition, ?The Fast and the Furious? focused on the cars and the drag racing that followed. You had a couple of scenes showing a variety of flashy car parts, an amusing street race, the desert filled ?Race Wars,? a fun race with a Ferrari, and an ending race that featured a pretty well-shot crash at the end. ?Fast & Furious? doesn?t really show much in terms of actual racing. It actually becomes quite boring. It seems to take itself way too seriously as a revenge picture. The climax, revolving around a chase sequence in a cave, is mediocre and underwhelming. It is nothing we haven?t seen before.
In terms of the franchise, I think this is on par with ?Tokyo Drift,? but there is more disappointment after watching this installment. With the exception of Walker, this cast is much more talented than what they have to work with here. Diesel exhibited this in ?Find Me Guilty,? Rodriguez in ?Girlfight,? and Brewster is probably better than everybody when she has a chance to be on screen. At the end of ?Fast & Furious? I questioned myself; ?Why did they have to make this?? I mean sure money is a good motivator, but studios and the assortment of people behind the film should have spread the excitement throughout the film, instead of selfishly blowing their load on the first 10 minutes. If you enjoyed the first three movie you?ll probably like this project just as much as you did the others. As for me, who only enjoyed the introduction film, this is a misfire. Since this entry has made more money than any of the other entries, a sequel is no doubt in the works. After the poor effort shown here, and striking out three times in a row, I think I?m finally ready to join the club and say this franchise is sadly out of gas.