The Fast and the Furious

It's fast, it's furious, and it's trash. But The Fast and the Furious is good trash. Full of wildly exicting races and absurd situations, this movie never rises above a level of general idiocy, but that's exactly what it wanted. Director Rob Cohen (The Skulls, Daylight) wanted to make a movie with lots of souped up cars going really fast, and in those terms, he succeeded. There is a plot, but it is unimportant. It is only a placeholder between the large amount of races. Races at night, races during the day, races in the city, the desert, and abandoned business districts in Los Angeles. Vin Diesel also lends his charismatic presence (and amazingly deep voice) to all the proceedings.

Among the actors, Diesel (Boiler Room, Pitch Black) easily dominates every scene he is in. His voice rolls out of the speakers like thunder (listen to him say "let's go for a little ride...") and his physique is easily the largest and bulkiest within the movie. Diesel is Dominic Toretto, the best racer in the world of illegal racing in Los Angeles. By day, he works in a garage with is crew. Brian Spindler (Paul Walker, The Skulls, Brokedown Palace), a transplant from Arizona is looking to break into the racing world. In actuality, he is an undercover police officer. He is investigating a series of truck robberies, committed by racers in Honda Civics. The robberies are highly orchestrated and always occur quickly at night. There are four major groups of racers, conveniently split along racial lines. Toretto, the Asians, the Hispanics, and the Blacks. Spindler believes that Toretto is not committing the crimes, but knows who is. His superiors are wary of Spindler's increasing affection for Mia (Jordana Brewster, The Invisible Circus, The Faculty), Toretto's young (and attractive) sister.

Compared to Diesel, nobody else in the film is interesting. Walker plays up the milquetoast element of his character, almost sounding at times as if he is reading his lines. Brewster is equally dull. The largest disappointment is Michelle Rodriguez, who plays Letty, Dominic's girlfriend. She plays the same angry, about-to-explode persona she did in Girlfight. However, in Girlfight, there was genuine rage behind her acting. Here, she looks like she is trying to look mad all the time. She has little to do, except throw a punch near the end. Granted, not many people are going to be watching The Fast and the Furious for its nuanced acting and storyline.

It's all about fast cars. Cohen and writers Gary Scott Thompson (Hollow Man), Erik Bergquist, and David Ayer (U-571) wisely throw in all sorts of inherently ridiculous but visually pleasing races. Some last for quite a long time, and they manage to hold the attention of the viewer for the duration of each race. The races and chases are more exciting than the ones last seen in Driven and Gone in 60 Seconds, and fare well against the ones in Ronin (and does anybody remember anything else from that movie?). Eclipses, Jettas, Civics, Maximas, and all other sorts of tricked out import cars fly across the screen. Cohen gets a little cheesy when he uses computer animation to have the camera look like it's physically going through the cars, but it fits in line with the level of the rest of the movie.

Haro Rates It: Not That Good.
1 hour, 47 minutes, Rated PG-13 for violence, sexual content, and language.

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