Saturday, February 11, 2012

Review: The Fast and The Furious (2001)


“Ask any racer, any real racer. It doesn't matter if you win by an inch or a mile; winning's winning.”

Director: Rob Cohen
Starring: Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Michelle Rodriguez and Jordana Brewster
Written: Gary Scott Thompson, Erik Bergquist and David Ayer

Never in a million years did I think I would ever like the Fast and Furious Franchise but low and behold I’ve been a fan. I can’t say I’m a car person but there was something about this movie that connected with the action junky in me. Last year I reviewed the fifth in the series. Well this month I’ve decided to go back and review the other four. So hold on tight, because this is going to be a bumpy ride.

First off I think the main reason this movie worked is in the casting of Vin Diesel. He definitely has an alpha male quality that works for Dominic Toretto, a charisma that works for this particular cheesy film. It’s the same type of swagger Stallone and Schwarzenegger had. Paul Walker as Brian O’Conner is the weakest actor in this movie, with him being akin to a walking piece of wood. He only ever feels animated when he starts acting like a Bro, but then it verges on the annoying. Michelle Rodriguez (Letty) plays the tough female character, she doesn’t get much play in the movie but at least has enough time to make a character. Jordana Brewster as Mia Toretto, is the love interest of Mr Walker and when in his presence acts circles around him.

Action wise this movie makes sure that the camera gets all the details of the racing, and really does glorify it. Other than racing there are a few scuffles but the fights are down and dirty. Nothing as over the top as The Rock vs Vin Diesel in the fifth movie. Really at this point the movie franchise was concentrating on the cars rather than just putting together a good action movie. In my honest opinion there seems to not be as much action as you would expect as there is the main focus on the Bromance of Dominic and Brian. Visually the movie is pretty plain, it manages to catch what action it can solidly, but there just seems to be a lack of style. During the racing get togethers there is a bit of life, as the party atmosphere is brought to the fore front. Still from what it would become, this is visually one of the weaker movies in the franchise.

Scripting is also a problem with the plot not really moving on at a great pace. In fact this movie is pretty padded with no real sense of direction. The main problem comes from the fact that the main villain isn’t actually given the focus so there is no sense of danger. Only at the end is the main villain crammed in at the end, and shows any sort of threat. Add to that the dialogue that hurts to listen to. Very macho, very cheesy and coming from the mouth of Paul Walker it does make me want to smack my head against a wall.

Overall I’m not sure how a franchise was made from this movie. The action is decent, and Vin Diesel does make his presence known, but it’s a movie that really lacks direction. As much as people criticise the sequel (which I probably will), it at least had climax worth rushing to. Maybe it was the focus on cars that drew people in, maybe that was the reason it was successful, but whatever the case the movies eventually morphed into something better.

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