The Fast and the Furious (2001) Review

“The Fast and the Furious” is a whirlwind of simplistic virtues. With the release of the seventh movie of the franchise I decided to undertake the task of watching the previous six movies. I am a longtime sufferer of sequel syndrome and refuse to watch a movie without having seen the previous, it’s an incurable affliction. So here I am, starting at first base and just now realising that this analogy will only apply to a quadrilogy, but I digress. As simple as it is, “The Fast and the Furious” is sufficiently stylish and vibrant enough that it becomes easy to appreciate how Rob Cohen brings these elements together. There is nothing new here of course, but these cars go really, really fast.

So we have the late Paul Walker who to his credit does a fine job as Brian O’Conner, who eludes us into thinking he’s a simple street racer for some time until he is handcuffed and brought to his FBI headquarters. Ah, he’s undercover, wonderful. I can see him already falling for his new found criminal friends that will ultimately make him decide between his friends and his career. It’s a tired plot that has very little resonance with actual twists and turns that make these things interesting.

The cars though, they are often going too fast for anything resembling a turn. A twist through the air in a few glorious collisions though sounds about right. These cars are colourful and extremely bright, they even have under lights that light up the road in glorious neon. The first race early on in the movie is between O’Conner and Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) who is one of the various suspects in a series of truck hijackings that have resulted in the theft of millions of dollars worth of electronics. One of these thefts serves to open the film as three Hondas role up and shoot a grappling hook onto the truck in order to climb in and tranquilise the driver. Absolutely ridiculous? yes. Unapologetic fun? You bet.

This initial race between Dom and Brian is stylised fantastically. The background blurs in wholly unrealistic ways and the camera darts between cars as we see each driver in what looks more like a cockpit than a dashboard. The cars colours are emphasised and the whole scene is akin to something I’d expect out of a movie based on a graphic novel, and I’m not complaining. Unfortunately this liberal use of artistic license isn’t really fully explored again in the other races, which rely less on style and more on pushing buttons to make cars turn into rockets. Besides some gun toting chase sequences later in the movie, this is how the movie mostly approaches the racing segments. It is still very fast and enjoyable, but there is certainly wasted potential.

Dom’s crew happens to include Brian’s love interest Letty Toretto (Jordana Brester — yes, Dom’s sister) and Michelle Rodriguez as Dom’s tough girlfriend. She pouts and frowns, so I guess that’s pretty tough. Brian immediately gets into a conflict with Vince (Matt Schulze) who plays a suitably detestable character who is there mainly to be in competition with Brian over Letty. Letty makes it clear though that it will never be a competition, so it feels pretty tacked on.

The focus isn’t really on these other characters though but more on the bromance relationship between Dom and Brian. It’s suitable and each character is relatively likable aside the corny dialogue, but its just there to provide a backdrop for the cars. It feels as though most of the dialogue in “The Fast and the Furious” is simply car jargon, with the word “Nos” being thrown around like a hot potato. It’s easy enough to shut your brain off in these sequences if you aren’t actually into cars, but its often quite grating, but at least most of this jargon is confined to the first half of the film.

You don’t need me to tell you what to expect from “The Fast and the Furious” really, you just need me to tell you if it is worth a bother. It is. You’re in for a predictable ride with intense action sequences and a plot that conveniently fits around the whirring engines. “The Fast and the Furious” encourages you to spend some long awaited time with the edge of your seat, relish it while it lasts.

7/10

Click here for my video review

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