The Fast and the Furious (2001) / Action-Thriller
MPAA Rated: PG-13 for violence, sexual content and language
Running Time: 87 min.
Cast: Paul Walker, Vin Diesel, Michelle Rodriguez, Jordana Brewster, Rick Yune, Chad Lindberg, Johnny Strong, Matt Schulze, Ted Levine, Ja Rule, Rob Cohen (cameo)
Director: Rob Cohen
Screenplay: Gary Scott Thompson, Eric Bergquist, David Ayer (based on the "Vibe" magazine article entitled, "Racer X", by Ken Li)
If fast cars and nifty stunt work are the only things you're expecting going into this movie, The Fast and the Furious probably won't disappoint. However, anyone looking for a good story, plot, or quality acting are going to find themselves a little hungrier by the time of the closing credits than when they started. Sometimes with movies of this sort, it really will all come down to expectations and how well it delivers. My only recommendation is to keep all expectations low, and perhaps you will find yourself in the mood for the kind of mindless entertainment that The Fast and the Furious delivers with adequate skill.
Vin Diesel (Pitch Black, Boiler Room) plays Dominic Toretto, the leader of a gang of street racers who also have an undercover armed robbery operation in their spare time. Paul Walker (Joy Ride, Timeline) is the cop sent in undercover to investigate, but finds that the deep cover assignment is a bit pricklier than he would like.
Outside of some very good CGI stunts and some kick-ass cars, The Fast and the Furious is fairly anemic fare much of the way. It's similar to a lot of other films of different ilk, and many may find some striking similarities with Point Break in particular, and that's dipping pretty deep in the bad action movie barrel for inspiration. Rob Cohen, who previously directed marginally entertaining action films like Daylight and Dragonheart, seems more at ease with the non-dialogue heavy moments involving the racing than with the scees directly dealing with characters themselves. Vin Diesel turns in a typically characteristic bad-ass turn, while Paul Walker gives the bland, smiling performance that will please only the young girls who just want to see him smile blandly.
In the end, I can't really say I liked The Fast and the Furious, but would recommend it as worth renting if you like dumb, popcorn entertainment with loads of eye and ear candy and little taxation on your mind. Like popcorn itself, it may look like you're eating a lot of food but once it's over you still have that unsatisfying emptiness of feeling.
-- Followed by 2 Fast 2 Furious (2003), The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift (2006), Fast & Furious (2009), Fast Five (2011) and Fast & Furious 6 (2013).
©2002 Vince Leo