Fast & Furious
2-Disc Special Edition
Directed by Justin Lin
Starring Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Jordana Brewster, Michelle Rodriguez
Release Date: July 28, 2009
Fast & Furious is part of a tricky four-movie franchise. Most movie fans see a movie like this coming out, and immediately write it off. In other words, being objective toward these movies is not an easy task. Even for someone like myself, who thought the first movie was a ton of fun, really had no interest in seeing its sequel 2 Fast 2 Furious, and the threequel, The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift. One of the reasons I was so against these movies was their breaking of a cardinal rule: if you’re giving me a sequel, give me the original cast. So when I first saw the trailer for this fourth installment, and that the core cast from the original was finally brought back together, I was curious as to if it could be as fun as the first.
The movie opens up with lovey-dovey criminal couple Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) and Letty Ortiz (Michelle Rodriguez) in another country and on another high-speed heist of tankers carrying profitable fuel. When Dom finds out the cops are hot on his trail, he parts ways with Letty to keep her out of jail. After hiding for a while, he finds out that someone close to him has been murdered, and he decides to sneak back into America and find out who’s responsible so he can take them down. This mission finds him bumping into old friend Brian O’Conner (Paul Walker), who now works for the FBI and is also working to try and take down the same guy, whose name is Braga. After a rocky reunion, Brian and Dom go to the old house where Mia Toretto (Jordana Brewster) still lives, and decide to put their differences aside and work to find Braga and end his reign in the crime world.
As far as comparing this movie to the first, I unfortunately can’t say that it was nearly as fun. The original had all the good stuff a summer movie should have — a fairly mindless movie with a ton of intense action sequences and just a hint of “drama” and the emotional stuff to solidify some kind of story around these characters that you like just enough to watch. That’s all that’s needed to throw down a good summer movie, taken right from the book of Michael Bay himself — which reminds me, this movie definitely had a Bay protege feel to it. What Fast and Furious did wrong here, was to try and add way too much of said drama and emotion into this movie. Due to this, these mediocre actors were being juiced for some kind of actual performance to show up on screen, and this does not translate well at all. The emotion we saw at the end of the original was about the maximum for a movie like that, and even then they at least reacted to the situations in a somewhat believable fashion.
On the bright side, this tiny over-flow of drama doesn’t mean that Fast & Furious is unwatchable at all. I was pleasantly surprised to find plenty of that mindless action and fun I was looking for in the movie, and that it’s definitely well-worth at least one peek. Straying from that rap video world of illegal street racing to using those skills as a drug runner was certainly a welcomed change, though there was still plenty of those silly pimped out cars and rather scary scantily clad lady-folk, for those of you kids who are into that sort of thing.
The acting is pretty rough from the main cast. As mentioned, there is a good amount of emotional range required from the script, and they do not do a good job at all in making it work. This is why I feel these movies are best with as little drama as is needed. The script may have contributed to this, or maybe even director Justin Lin, but in any case, it just didn’t work out well. That said, for some strange reason I can’t pinpoint, I still enjoy watching these actors together. I have to imagine this is due to some more recent form of nostalgia I have from seeing the first movie with friends when I was much younger, but I do enjoy watching them together. Even stranger is that I’m not even much of a fan of their other works, side from a select few Vin Diesel movies I rather enjoy.
As you might imagine, there’s a lot of flaws to this movie. As soon as it starts (unless I missed something), they’re chasing a massive truck hauling multiple tanks of fuel on a very quiet strip of road. Out of nowhere, this secluded road becomes a complete dead end, with no other route in sight, and looking like it’s been there forever. This of course causes an intense moment in the movie, but instead of enjoying that, I was wondering why if this one road is dead, would this truck driver be on it in the first place? Things like that can kill a movie immediately for me because of how little sense they make.
Even with all of these little nitpicky blemishes that I’ve noted, if you enjoy these movies, or if you only just enjoyed the first one like myself, you should most-definitely check it out, if only once. The reason I mention these things is simply to recognize them and fill people in on what I saw. As a mindless action flick, Fast & Furious has no need to be a perfect film, just entertaining enough to keep my attention, and it does indeed do that to an acceptable level. Hopefully, when they inevitably make the next movie, they can improve upon some of these things and re-discover the roots of their success.
The 2-disc DVD has plenty of special features to check out, but nothing too world-changing. One disc one, there’s the commentary and a little gag reel.
Below is a list of the special features on disc 2.
Los Bandoleros — A short movie directed by Vin Diesel that ties into the movie.
Under the Hood: Muscle Cars & Under the Hood: Imports — A peek at all of the cars used in the movie.
Getting the Gang Back Together — A special feature that talks about bringing the majority of the original movie’s cast back for the fourth installment.
High Octane Action: The Stunts — As presented, a feature on some of the stunts featured in the movie.
Driving School with Vin Diesel — Vinny D. talks about his driving work.
Shooting the Big Rig Heist — Shows the making of the opening scene.
Races and Chases — Another feature showcasing some of the action sequences that were filmed for the movie.
South of the Border: Filming in Mexico — A brief look at filming down in Mexico.
Music Video — “Blanco” by Pitbull featuring Pharrell.