Fast & Furious

Fast & Furious

**1/2

Reviewed by: Emma Slawinski

As we’re now on the fourth instalment of the gas-guzzling franchise, you’ll know what to expect. It’s about good and bad guys, only they’re hard to tell apart. They’re all big fibbers. They all enjoy a good rumble, whether bare-fisted with feet on the ground, or the kind that sees them blazing down the highway. They enjoy shooting things down and blowing stuff up.

Fast & Furious sees the main players from the first film reunited. Dom Toretto (Vin Diesel) has been in exile with girlfriend Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) in the Dominican Republic, while sister Mia (Jordana Brewster) keeps the home fires burning in LA, and hothead Brian O’Connor chases lowlifes around the city for the FBI. An unexpected death brings Torretto back to LA to grudgingly hook up with former back-stabbing accomplice O’Connor and track down the perpetrator.

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Diesel has every emotion covered with a multi-purpose furrowed brow look, and delivers all his lines in the same excruciatingly slow drawl. Walker isn’t much more convincing, and, in addition, O’Connor is a loathsome character. Slated as a conflicted hero, his behaviour screams bone-headed bully - at one point he cracks his FBI colleague’s head against a wall, which bit of gratuitous violence is somehow turned into a humorous aside. It’s funny because the agent’s unattractive, less toned than him, and doesn’t use a souped-up motor as a stand-in for his schlong - geddit?

If only Fast & Furious had a better sense of humour, it might just wash. It’s got the material, after all – there would have been plenty of scope for having a laugh with the glaring homoeroticism. Vin Diesel is always standing suggestively in front of oil pump-jacks, would it have killed the writers to throw us a few good lines too? Perhaps Vin’s mouth just doesn’t move fast enough for gags. We have to make do with mobster’s moll Gisele’s sarky gauntlet-throwing - “are you one of these boys who prefers cars to women?” Hardly guffaw-inducing but she seems to have hit the nail on the head.

Having given up on the characterisation, motives and dialogue, all that’s left are the stunts – they’re pulled off confidently and make the film surprisingly watchable. Opening with a vertiginous, hair-raising highway chase set in the Dominican Republican, Fast and Furious has certainly upped the stakes for the action sequences, with creative scenes that see the cars take to teeming LA streets and Mexican smuggling tunnels. They somehow manage to mitigate the clumsy manoeuvreing of the story and elevate it to something mildly entertaining.

That said, I won’t be queuing up for the next episode of high-octane inanity from this worn-out franchise. At least not until it stops taking itself so seriously.

Reviewed on: 08 Apr 2009
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Fast & Furious packshot
Pimped-out motors, pumped-up muscles and lots of burnt tarmac.
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Read more Fast & Furious reviews:

Stephen Carty ***

Director: Justin Lin

Writer: Chris Morgan, Gary Scott Thompson

Starring: Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Jordana Brewster, Michelle Rodriguez, John Ortiz, Laz Alonso, Gal Gadot, Jack Conley, Shea Whigham, Liza Lapira, Sung Kang

Year: 2009

Runtime: 107 minutes

BBFC: 12A - Adult Supervision

Country: US

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