The Fast And The Furious

The Fast And The Furious


Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

If proof was needed that the ethics of the two-minute commercial have taken over the visual media, this is it. Lager ads, car ads, jeans ads combine to make a testosterone addictive boys flick that will have the GQ crowd high on an image of the mechanic as the new sex god.

For a long time, manufacturers of industrial machinery have marketed their product with the help of busty semi-naked babes. The walls of any oil-grunged garage are covered in these pictures. Sex is steel, they are saying. Sex is stainless.

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To call The Fast And The Furious misogynistic is too easy. To call it gay is more subversive. The emphasis is on engines and the rush of speed. Guys are excited by what's under the bonnet, not under the sheets.

Rob Cohen photographs the male torso as seductively as he photographs the cars. Vin Diesel, in the Bruce Willis role of strong/silent leader of the pack, doesn't have to act. He has to wear short-sleeved tee shirts. "He's like gravity," one of the girls says. "Everything gets pulled to him." Isn't that a black hole?

Paul Walker, as the Troy Donahue of 21st century pulp, has a pretty face and streaked blond hair. He looks serious to avoid looking vacant. "Don't lose that cool of yours," Diesel says. "That's your meal ticket." No wonder he's so thin.

Centred around the LA street racing scene, the writers have stitched on a plot that makes as much sense as flat Pepsi. The only thing that matters here is travelling at Utah Flats speed and getting off on the cars. The noise is aural Armageddon.

Although essentially about "500 horses of Detroit muscle" and the men who control them, there is a half-hearted attempt at love interest. The two main contenders dress like guys, except their tank tops are shorter. The wonderful Michelle (Girlfight) Rodriguez strides through the haze of exhaust fumes, as if modelling leather pants for Marie Claire, and Yale student Jordana (The Invisible Circus) Brewster adds an inquisitive mind to a situation devoid of intelligence.

Walter Hill understood the power of street gang imagery when he made The Warriors in 1978 and Streets Of Fire in 1985. These films were just as artificial, but infinitely sexier. Cohen is closer to Tony Scott, except Days Of Thunder had Nicole Kidman, which puts it beyond reach.

Reviewed on: 13 Sep 2001
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LA street racers are infiltrated by undercover cop.
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Director: Rob Cohen

Writer: Gary Scott Thompson, Erik Bergquist, David Ayer

Starring: Paul Walker, Vin Diesel, Michelle Rodriguez, Jordana Brewster, Rick Yune, Chad Lindberg, Johnny Strong, Matt Schulze, Ja Rule, Ted Levine

Year: 2001

Runtime: 107 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: US


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