The Fast And The Furious

Cast:
Paul Walker (I) .... Brian O'Conner
Vin Diesel .... Dominic Toretto
Michelle Rodriguez .... Letty
Jordana Brewster .... Mia Toretto
Rick Yune .... Johnny Tran
Chad Lindberg .... Jesse
Johnny Strong (II) .... Leon
Matt Schulze .... Vince
Ted Levine .... Sgt. Tanner
Ja Rule .... Edwin
Vyto Ruginis .... Harry
Thom Barry .... Agent Bilkins
Stanton Rutledge .... Muse
Noel Gugliemi .... Hector (as Noel Guglielmi)
R.J. de Vera .... Danny Yamato

A gang of drivers are pulling off high speed hijacks of trucks and stealing their cargo. Undercover cop Brian O'Conner is sent in to infiltrate one of the numerous street racing crews who are suspected of the crime. He wins over Dominic Toretto, the head of one such crew and begins his investigation. However the closer he gets to the crew and the more he gets into the culture, the harder it is to do his job.

One weekend I was considering going to see 2 Fast 2 Furious but decided to go and rent the first movie before I see the sequel or else how would I be able to follow the plot and characters (oh – how optimistic I was!). So I rented this film knowing that it had received better reviews than the sequel. I expected stylish thrills and exciting high speed action with a weak plot – I was half right. The plot was pretty weak and full of clichés – from the `going native undercover cop' to the `urban' lingo that everyone tries to speak in.

It doesn't really make much sense and it is a pretty fragile house of cards that comes crashing down logic-wise if you ask too many questions. However, to focus on the plot here is wasting my time and yours, as it matters little – this is an action movie, not a drama. I expected the action to be slick and breathless given the speeds involved however I was really disappointed. Aside from a few directorial flourishes that make it all appear much more exciting than it is, the car action is actually quite normal. Even the climatic hijacking is done with no feeling of `edge of seat thrills' although it looks impressive. I'm sure many will be taken in by the sheer slickness of the thing, but I found the action to be soulless and lacking in any real excitement.

The cast are a line of urban clichés who sound like every suburban teenager in the Western world tries to sound. Walker is bland and manages to make Vin Diesel look like he's acting hard. In fairness Diesel was responsible for the only scene I found dramatic (where Toretto finds out who O'Conner is) by doing good work with his face – but for the rest he was simply a tough guy lacking in the charisma needed to do a likeable bad guy. Rodriguez looks good but is better than this. Brewster is surprisingly plain given the amount of eye candy on display and the rest of the support cast simply mug (Ja Rule included). More often I found myself watching the crowds who were populated with beautiful girls who were cynically edited in at every chance to try and get the teenage boys coming back for more. I'm not complaining, but it is hard not to feel a little exploited when the film has a lingering shot of two gorgeous girls snogging for no reason other than visual titillation.

Overall, like the cars themselves this is a very slick vehicle but I found it to be ultimately empty and soulless. The plot is meaningless and the script one cliché after another. The action scenes are ordinary and it is a major failing of the film that it doesn't manage to translate the thrill of 140 mph races etc onto the screen. If you want to see a road race done better I suggest an exciting scene in the Jackie Chan 1995 film `Pi li ho' – that I found exciting, this I just found to be hollow and noisy.