I like The Fast and the Furious. I don’t know why exactly. I hate the director. I hate the writer. One of the principle stars can’t act. The plot is Texas dumb and drags its ass around in places. But I like the movie. Right up front, let me explain that I am biased. There is no way I can objectively review The Fast and the Furious. Firstly, I love fast, modified Japanese cars. A lot. It is not the paint jobs that get me, or the stupid aftermarket ground effects. What does it for me is the fact that my little black station wagon can beat a mullet-head and his Mustang off the line. With ease. These kinds of cars represent a democratization of speed. My own car, the awesome Subaru WRX, rivals most Porsches in terms of performance. It costs about as much as a Jeep.
My bias continues further. Most of the scenes in The Fast and the Furious were filmed within walking distance of my house. Not only that, but I love Vin Diesel! He is such an anti-star. He doesn’t quite look right. He is bald, sort of ugly and has a boxer’s nose. But there is a certain carmel to his voice, a certain burnt sweetness. So that even when he has to say things like, “You were granny-shifting, not double clutching like you were supposed to” and “I live my life a quarter-mile at a time” you can’t help but smile and nod. Diesel absolutely steals the show. He is going to go on and become one of Hollywood’s biggest stars. The rest of the cast is going to bug their respective agents about doing The Faster and the Furiouser. Diesel, however, is bonafide.
Contrast Vin’s performance in The Fast and the Furious to that of Paul Walker’s. Mr. Walker is either the absolute worst actor on the planet, or one of the most sublime. I’m leaning towards terrible. See, Walker is playing Officer Brian O’Conner who for various reasons has to infiltrate Diesel’s world of fast cars and super-smoking hot women. The thing is, Walker never fits in. He reeks like a fish out of water that has been baking in the dessert for the entire movie. Never, not for a single second, do you believe that anyone in Diesel’s car gang would have anything to do with Walker’s character. He is just a big, dumb, blond moron whenever the camera is on him. Plus, he’s from the valley. The only reason I am not totally disgusted by him, is that maybe it was intentional. Maybe Walker decided that he would play O’Conner in a manner that is probably pretty close to how actual narcs operate. OK, so I’m reaching here, but I told you I was biased. I can’t figure it out either, but for some reason, Walker just doesn’t bother me all that much. It is like he is constant comic relief.
Then there is Jordana Brewster. She plays Mia Toretto, Vin’s sister. Gentleman, she is so hot it is painful. She sort of reminds me of a Central American Gabrielle Anwar. I mean she is really, truly beautiful. I can’t even think dirty thoughts about her. Rather, I see me and her under a waterfall, lying on white sheets cuddling or some such ridiculous romantic fantasy. She’s Panamanian. I’ve known four Panamanian women. They are all pretty much as hot as Jordana. I think I’m going to move to Panama. Contrast Ms. Brewster with Michelle Rodriguez who plays Diesel’s love interest. Rodriguez I would tie up and beat with a car antenna just to get her in the mood. Like I said, compare the two and you’ll see just how sultry and delectable Jordana is. Can she act? I think so. It wasn’t the most challenging role ever. Plus, she went from fiery Latina in the movie’s opening sequences to typical boring ass white supporting actress by the film’s end. But I’m going to blame the writer Gary Thompson for that. I can’t blame Jordana for anything. Except for making out with Walker, who might be even prettier than she is.
The only character that bothered me was Jesse, played by Chad Lindberg. I think the casting director said something like this, “What do you mean Giovanni Ribisi doesn’t want the part? It was written for him. $5,000,000? For a supporting role? Listen, can you get me a non-union, slightly retarded Ribisi rip-off? Lindberg? Is he cute? Great.” Actually, I am sure Lindberg isn’t retarded. He just acts that way every second he is on screen. And again, not just retarded, but like a retarded Giovanni Ribisi. His character was just crap to the point that my roommate commented, “I bet he dies, huh?” Lindberg goes to my gym, so I guess I could ask him what was up with Jesse. And no, I’m not worried about calling him retarded since I could do curls with his skinny ass.
The plot is really thin, yet murky. Similar to pork gravy. Somebody with fast cars (Diesel and his cronies) is hijacking big rigs with a grappling hook. Why they don’t wait until the trucks are parked is beyond the realm of askable questions. Walker is sent in to infiltrate the gang and arrest whoever is doing it. All by himself. One stupid thing is that the LAPD and the FBI know it is a crew in LA (Somehow) that is doing the hijacking, but they just aren’t sure of the ethnicity.
See, all the different races have their own little car gangs who no matter what cannot beat Toretto, (Diesel) which makes sense since Vin looks like he has the blood of at least four continents flowing through his mighty veins. Walker of course falls in love with Toretto’s sister. Trouble is she is sort of dating the fiery yet really stupid Vince (Played by Matt Schultz who looks like Mark Wahlberg would if Wahlberg had a serious steroid dependency). Him and Walker get into a fight that produces the worst dialogue ever recorded on film. To further complicate things, Walker’s superiors want results NOW. Walker’s superiors look and act like they were stolen from the set of the fourth Dirty Harry movie, frozen, and then thawed out for The Fast and the Furious. The scenes with them and Walker where they are yelling about truckers rioting are really bad, really slow and could have just been left out of the movie. Oh, of course, Toretto is an ex-con who viciously beat a man within an inch of his life and is “never going back” to prison. Hi-jinks ensue! In the end, who cares? Because Diesel and Walker square off and race a 900 horsepower Plymouth against a super-duper Toyota and a freight train.
Director Rob Cohen (The same Rob Cohen who brought you the awful and massively over-rated Dragon Heart) does an admirable job with a fairly tricky script. Tricky in the sense that it required him to completely rip-off David Fincher and David O. Russell. Remember in Fight Club the scene where Ed Norton is explaining what happens when the building blows up? Remember how the camera did that crazy zoom from the top of the building all the way down into the basement. Also, remember in Three Kings when Clooney is explaining to Ice Cube and Mark Wahlberg how a bullet poisons the body and the camera actually follows a bullet inside of a persons body and we see it tear up the guts? Well, Mr. Cohen does the same shit every time a piece of one of the highly modified engines fucks up. We are treated to this cool high-speed zoom into the engine’s inner workings. I also really liked how Cohen handled the actual races themselves. The cars in this movie run the quarter mile in ten seconds or less. Rather than go for Driven style racing realism, Cohen says fuck it and drags the races out to like three minutes. Not believable in the slightest, but very cool and very entertaining. Just like the rest of The Fast and the Furious.
There is one real cool part where they show how the train really isn’t about to kill Walker and Diesel, er, Walker and Diesel’s stunt drivers.
- Overall: 6
- Acting: Wide degree of variance. I would say 7 to 1. Diesel being a 7 and Walker being a 1. All the other characters are 3s.
- Direction: 6
- Story: 3
- Fun!: 8
Ruthless Special Ratings
- Number of times you thought about buying a performance muffler for your car: 9
- Number of times you realized how refreshing it is to have no blond women in a movie geared towards teenage boys: 4
- Number of times you caught yourself admiring Vin Diesel’s incredibly well-chiseled physique: 5
- Number of times you told yourself that you were just admiring Diesel from an “I go to the gym, too” perspective: 3
- Number of times you realized you were gay: 2
- Number of times you realized that Jordana Brewster is more stunningly beautiful than almost all actresses in Hollywood: 19
- Number of times you realized that Jordana Brewster has appeared on both As The World Turns and All My Children: 2
- Number of times you got really upset because they destroyed that bad ass black Plymouth: 4
- Number of times a friend has chastised you for liking The Fast and the Furious: 6 so far.