Fast & Furious
Director: Justin Lin
Starring: Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Jordana Brewster, Michelle Rodriguez, John Ortiz, Jack Conley, Sung Kang
Still a buster
At its open, Fast & Furious takes a noticeable step up from his predecessors. There’s a lot of good intention here and what appears to be hard work. The film starts guns ablazing, but never manages to retain the promise of these opening moments. The rest of the adventure is somewhat watchable but really just skims the mediocrity set in the in the first film only done by a better, more imaginative craftsman.
The opening scene of this film is absolutely great. It’s the highlight of the ENTIRE oeuvre of Fast & Furious movies so far. This sequence brings back Han from Tokyo Drift to help out Toretto and Letty pull off a heist of gasoline from a tanker. This is a beefed up super version of the opening of the original film. Not only is it miles better and more exciting, I can get much more on board with them trying to steal gasoline as opposed to DVD players. The stunt work and the stakes are quite high and really impressive. This is as exhilarating a sequence as the best action pictures out there can offer. My only qualm is that the ending is a tad lackluster due to an obvious CG version of the tanker twirling out of control leaving Torreto to drive straight at it, hoping to slide under it.
If anything, this opening scene is telling of the entire film. The film starts out quite engaging and I was actually into it. When we’re reintroduced to Brian O’Conner, he’s not only involved in a fun foot chase, but he’s dressed not only like a cop, but an adult and he’s way less douche-y. This film had good stuff going for it up until the part where they had to shoehorn in the street racing. Don’t get me wrong, this street race is good, but it feels hokey, dumb and forced. From this point out, the film is a bit sloppy and mostly “eh” at best. The villain’s plot is kinda doesn’t make much sense and none of the action is very good (or is done with stupid circumstance – cigarette lighter popping with the NOS spraying comes to mind). In the end it becomes an unengaging underground, pretty much all CG’d, hard to follow chase. Its not impressive and not very fun. A great first act followed by a crappy movie.
Justin Lin does direct the hell out of these thing when he's allowed to. As opposed to the previous ones (maybe I give Tokyo Drift a pas on this), this one actually LOOKS like a movie. Its almost as if we went from 3 television episodes to a feature film. The look, shots, aesthetic is all of a higher class. The script isn’t deserving of it, but it makes this film much easier to take in, and keeps you more involved than all the others. It also helps that all the performers have had 8 more years acting experience to bring to the table. They’re all a lot better. There was a lot of excitement with their return. I don’t know whether it was the group wanting to get back for this or the “need to return to the well” type of deal. They had all really fizzled in popularity and aside from Rodriguez, not busy and not being offered high profile work. I must mention that in this time between, Jordana Brewster did the underrated horror film The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning (seriously folks, this thing is criminally underrated for the 834th time). The cast shows no signs of just taking a paycheck, they seem to really want to be involved. And the fact that they have returned for 2 more and are wanting to do a 7th, leaves me thinking the positive side of things happened.
All in all, the opening act of this movie may have been my most enjoyable watch of them all. Its the best thing to happen to the franchise at this point. This one looked like a movie and felt more like one. Make no mistake, after the opening sequence, it slides into mediocre to crappy, but its tolerable. The previous movie as a whole was a better film, but it was nice to have the original cast back and giving us a memorable sequence to open with. The best thing I took from this is I think they’re starting to figure things out and I’m really looking forward to the next one.
Next Up: Fast Five
The Rock Vs. Diesel. It took us 20+ years to get Stallone and Swazenegger in the same movie, these two are age-prime for this!