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Fast Forward: Fast & Furious uses old model and broken parts to predictable results 

Apparently the way to make the fourth sequel is to take out "The" from the title and cast all the main actors from the 2001

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Apparently the way to make the fourth sequel is to take out "The" from the title and cast all the main actors from the 2001 original. But this movie is such a predictable hunk o' cheese that I can only hope that the video game is more fun. Neither the plot nor the dialogue graduates beyond the 8th grade. The opening sequence is impressive with its over-the-top oil truck hijacking. But after that initial wallop, the movie fizzles out.

The story again teams up Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) with Brian O'Connor (Paul Walker) to bust a heroin dealer and seek revenge for the killing of Letty (Michelle Rodriguez). After that it's very simply good guys vs. bad guys... period. The plot holes open faster than pop up windows on a porn site. Around three quarters of the way through the film, F&F actually stops making any sense at all. The dialogue is so clichéd that it was down right laughable. There are some exchanges reminiscent of Tonto talking to the Lone Ranger. "This bad." "Go here." "Why for?" "Take tunnel." I half expected Vin to say, "Crash site tell heap big story." After O'Connor demolishes around 15 cars, a police chief actually utters this tired old line, "You had better have one good goddamned explanation for this." And a henchman warns, "When GPS calls you follow." Vroom!

Everyone reprises their roles and looks tired doing it. Vin wears bad shirts and plods through scenes like a stoic, mumbling behemoth. Forget Stallone, Diesel unintelligibly slurs his way through every channel of communication. I barely understood half of his lines. But thanks to the by-the-numbers script, I could lip read and get the gist. Walker's messy acting goes in too may directions as he attempts to convey five personas at once: smarmy, cool, sensitive, tough and vulnerable. Jordana Brewster as Mia (Toretto's sister and O'Connor's love interest) looks like she was stamped out of a Barbie machine. And I'm pretty sure you can get a Barbie to act better. Losing her etched-in scowl, Rodriguez shows potential and has finally learned to smile, but her character lasts only a few minutes. Jon Ortiz has fun playing the evil drug lord, but the role is a retread. It's like his character Guajiro in Carlito's Way survived and grew up.

Fast & Furious has enough telegraphed twists to straighten a pretzel. The only surprising factor was that there weren't more car chases, muscle cars, and cleavage. F&F is more of a (yeesh) male bonding buddy movie. Where are Tango and Cash when you need them? This flick actually resembled a car-jacking/race-driving TV episode of Mission Impossible. I half expected Vin to take off his mask and there'd be Martin Landau grunting and wheezing.

Director Justin Lin (responsible for F&F Tokyo Drift) has the concept down, but the meandering pace, editing, drawn out yak fests, and high-octane rev-ups need extensive work. The driving sequences are just fair - at best. They drive through a hole in a mountain spending a lot of car chase time in a cave, which isn't conducive to great camera angles or believability.

All in all I figure F&F will please the viewing masses (it topped this weekend's box office) that thrive on burning rubber, loud cars, high octane car wrecks, punching people, losing tempers, and over-used one liners. Only problem is that the point gets across in the first five minutes. From there it's all tedium. Let's face it; you can't salvage this old heap. Box office be damned, this franchise has run its course.

Fast and Furious ★✩✩✩✩

Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Michelle Rodriguez, Jordana Brewster

Directed by Justin Lin

Rated PG-13


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