The Fast and the Furious

Directed by Rob Cohen
Starring: Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Michelle Rodriguez, Jordana Brewster, Rick Yune, Ted Levine.
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for violence, sexual content and language.

Review by Evelyn Gildrie-Voyles <evy@filmhead.com>
Juen 26, 2001

OH YEAH. Car chases; explosions; gunfire; loud music; ripped, tattooed, badass men; sexy, tough women; sexier, tougher cars; and some snappy dialogue, but not too much; low on brains, big on balls (Yes it's a PG-13 movie that didn't castrate itself to get that rating): THIS is my type of movie.

The story was based on a magazine article by Kin Li and scripted by Gary Scott Thompson and Erick Berquist. The plot they created is simple and highly familiar: undercover cop infiltrates an illegal street racing gang to solve a string of highway robberies. During the infiltration the cop's loyalties become twisted. Does he betray his job or his new "family?" Basically it's Point Break with cars. But Point Break sucked and The Fast and the Furious KICKS ASS. Why?

First of all, the plot is highly secondary. The movie is really about speed. Rob Cohen does an excellent job of giving the entire movie an accelerated feel. The racing sequences and the crime/chase scenes are almost sickening in their intensity. The rest of the movie clips along at a snappy pace and avoids the pitfalls of Gone in 60 Seconds and Driven, films supposedly about speed that were unbearably slow.

Secondly, the script is relatively well-written. The relationships between the characters are interesting and could have provided a much better plot than the one ultimately chosen. While presenting gangs as alternate families is not new; it has rarely been done as well. The power struggles between rival gangs and inside the main gang were rich enough to sustain the film without the undercover cop plot. The dialogue is strong and only occasionally hackneyed; when that happens the acting comes to the rescue.

Thirdly, the acting is SOOOOO MUCH BETTER. Point Break had Keanu Reeves and Patrick Swayze. The Fast and the Furious has Paul Walker as the undercover cop, Brian, and Vin Diesel as street racer Dominic Toretto. Walker is serviceable and pretty. Much is made in the script about his looks. "He's so beautiful. I love his hair cut," croon two racers when they first see him. Walker also does a pretty could job expressing Brian's inner conflict and absolute lust for Mia Toretto (Jordana Brewster), sister of the man he is investigating. Diesel is physically remarkable. He is hulking and steely eyed. He is also a wonderful iconographic actor able to broadcast menace, strength, and control without speaking. When he does speak his voice sounds as tough as he looks. He was after all the voice of the Iron Giant. I can't wait to see this man in more movies.

Michelle Rodriguez, who plays Dom's girlfriend, is probably the only young actress who could hold her own against Diesel's aggressive screen presence. She doesn't have much to do in this film because all the women are secondary, but boy does she do it well. Every move and speech radiates power. Her racing sequence is one of my favorites. She is also the only woman who manages to look as sexy as the cars without becoming trashy. The audience gasped with pleasure and lust when ever a hood was opened, or detailing panned over. The only other time they made such noises was on Rodriguez's first entrance.

I've been waiting for this film since February and I was not even a little disappointed. Clearly this is not for all tastes; although it is tearing up the box office by bringing in the 15- to 25-year-old males in droves. If you thought the previews looked good, you'll love this movie. It does all the previews promise and little else. It is just glorious garbage. BUT WHO CARES? For those of us who like this sort of thing, this is the sort of thing we like. VROOOOOOOOOOOM!!!!!!!!!


For more information, go to the Internet Movie Database:
The Fast and the Furious (2001)

Here's some merchandise for sale at Amazon.com
The Fast and the Furious (2001) -- VHS
The Fast and the Furious (2001) -- DVD
The Fast and the Furious: Soundtrack (explicit lyrics) -- Compact Disc
The Fast and the Furious: Soundtrack (edited) -- Compact Disc


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