The Fast and the Furious (2001)

"So check it out, it's like this: if I lose, winner takes my car clean and clear. But if I win, I take the cash, and I take the respect!""So check it out, it's like this: if I lose, winner takes my car clean and clear. But if I win, I take the cash, and I take the respect!"

“So check it out, it’s like this: if I lose, winner takes my car clean and clear. But if I win, I take the cash, and I take the respect!”

You don’t go see a movie like The Fast and the Furious and expect Academy Award worthy performances, screenwriting or directing. What you do go see a movie like this for is the pure entertainment and enjoyment. There’s not much to write home about regarding the plot, since, well there isn’t one, and if there is its stretched way too thin to even see it while squinting. What makes The Fast and the Furious something to go see and keep coming back to revisit over and over is the characters, their relationships, the high octane drag racing and the underground culture and atmosphere that surrounds this type of community.

As far as the characters, there is little to no development from the main cast, Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) being the only one showing any signs of that. And that’s not say much at all, for 3 quarters of the film, he’s a mystery, along with Brian O’Conner (Paul Walker) who has got to be the worst written cop in film history. From what we are given, Brian is an undercover cop tasked to infiltrate a crew of hijackers of 18-wheeler trucks. It’s pretty obvious its Dominic and his crew, too. Otherwise, why make them a central part of the film. 

Rounding out Dom’s crew is his girlfriend Letty (Michelle Rodriguez), Jesse (Chad Lindberg), Leon (Johnny Strong), & Vince (Matt Schulze). Right away most of these characters don’t add any substance to the story – Letty punches someone and that’s it – she’s instantly forgettable. Leon has no purpose other than to tame Vince who is just used as a pawn in Brian and Mia’s (Jordana Brewster) love story. Jesse is the only other character that holds any merit and is given a pretty decent arch that gives some type of resolution to a character.  

“I watched my father burn to death. I can still remember him screaming. The people who were there said my father died long before the tanks blew. They said it was me that was screaming.”

Where The Fast and the Furious excels is solely in the stunt coordination and action sequences. These scenes are vital to get right since they play the most important part in a film about a criminal underground culture. Of course, civil liberties may be taken but director Rob Cohen captures the essence of being in one of these supped up cars as if you’re actually behind the wheel. Each race is a full-on adrenaline rush that builds the steady anticipation from the moment the race starts to the Nos injected finish. 

Racing is as much a sport as it is an art form, the care is put where it’s supposed to be – under the hood. Beyond that The Fast and the Furious is made for the summertime block buster. Sit back, get a large bucket of popcorn and live in the moment. Or as Dom puts it – live your life at a quarter mile at a time. Maybe he should you know, keep his eyes on the road after narrowly beating an oncoming train. 

Even with the lack of character development, forming a connection to these characters is fairly easy. They’re all pretty likeable enough to get invested in their lives. The sense of family and inclusion resonates from Dominic but that’s also his weakness. Dom trusts way too easily – even Vince could smell the aroma of bacon on Brian and Vince is just the leashed Pitbull. Brian doesn’t make it that difficult to cover up either, he’s not that good at his job – he doesn’t even know where his headquarters are. Has he never been there before infiltrating Dom’s inner circle? He even dresses like a cop, all he needed was a little bit of leather. Being a drag racer, leather must be a requirement, obviously. Look at how much leather Johnny Tran (Rick Yune) and his cousin Lance (Reggie Lee) have on. 

“Spirit. Thank you. Thank you for providing us with the direct-port nitrous… uh… injection, four-core intercoolers, an’ ball-bearing turbos, and… um… titanium valve springs. Thank you.”

The Fast and the Furious starts off with an energy rush and retains it throughout the entirety of its run time. Steady doses of Nos are injected into this script’s veins written by Gary Scott Thompson, Erik Bergquist, and David Ayer. The pacing is on par with the level with of energy – high speed for majority of the film but slowing down at the right time to catch our breath. It makes moments like Brian and Mia’s date worth that extra speed.

The Fast and the Furious is by no means a great movie, but that doesn’t mean it’s not fun as hell to watch. Most of the acting and dialogue is tough to digest, I mean was Dom really that shocked to discover Brian was a cop at the end? His facial expression in that moment is truly priceless. The movie thrives in the culture that inspired it and portrays it in an authentic enough manner.

So, tell me, have you seen The Fast and the Furious and if so, what do you think about it? Do you agree or disagree with me? Comment below or send me an email and let me know what you think. 

The Fast and the Furious is written by Gary Scott Thompson, Erik Bergquist, and David Ayer & directed by Rob Cohen is Rated PG-13 and has a 53% on Rotten Tomatoes. The Fast and the Furious was released on June 22, 2001 in the United States and has a runtime of 1 hour and 47 minutes. The Fast and the Furious can be bought by online retailers like iTunes, Amazon and Google. 2.5 out of 5. 

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