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The Fast and the Furious (2001) – Movie Review

The Fast and the Furious (2001) movie poster art

Written by: David Ayer, Erik Bergquist & Gary Scott Thompson, based on a story by Gary Scott Thompson, which was in turn based on a magazine article by Ken Li
Directed by: Rob Cohen
Starring: Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Jordana Brewster, Michelle Rodriguez, Ted Levine

My Advice: Wait for Cable.

Brian Spindler (Walker) is a newcomer to an underground world of illegal street racing, a place where people put more torque and power into automobiles than would be required to shoot those selfsame autos somewhere into geosynchronous orbit. The king of street racing is one Dom Toretto (Diesel), who also happens to have a sister (Brewster) that catches Brian’s eye. As Brian learns to be a player in this strange new existence, it appears that Dom might be leading a secret double life–because Brian sure as hell is.

[ad#longpost]Make no mistake what this is. This is an excuse to put a bunch of amped cars on the screen, with a little bit of feminine wiles and a crapload of loud music. It’s a formula that appears to have worked, since the thing raked in over $40 million at the box office its opening weekend and has a sequel already in development. This is a shame, because this film is truly fetid. Which leads me to ask the question: when is somebody going to make a decent movie about cars? Between this and Gone in 60 Seconds, it’s enough to give out tremendous nosebleeds to most of the populace.

Before we start to vivisect this thing, let me exonerate some people. Diesel, and even Walker (who really needs to pick better material, this is starting to be a trend), are not to blame. They’re doing their best with a really bad script. It’s not Michelle Rodriguez’ fault either, considering she’s given pretty much nothing to do during the course of the film. And it’s definitely not the fault of Ted Levine, who’s actually the standout of the cast, playing…hell, a normal guy. Who knew he had it in him?

But regardless…it’s amazing: why in a film with such cars that are souped up as these are, that appear to be pretty stylish (hell I know, I know about as much about cars as I do about the cardiovascular system of your average kangaroo)…why are the car chases so, well, boring? Subplots about vendettas between street racing gangs do little to help the thing, either. For the most part it’s stupefying silly, with tons of bad dialogue and very little in the way of character development. An example. When Dom’s team genius, Jesse (Chad Lindberg), spills why he’s working for Dom instead of off somewhere designing a better mousetrap…it might have worked in the context of another film, but here it seems out of place. Oh, NOW we get some idea of what’s going on? At least it almost made sense–Vin Diesel’s character exposition-that-thinks-it’s-development is so funny, you’ll be laughing out loud.

If you love cars, I mean seriously love them, then this is a great film for you. But for pity’s sake just rent it. Everyone else would be well advised to steer clear.

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