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A slow and ponderous way to drive a plot

BY KELLY DIGGINS | APRIL 06, 2009 7:30 AM

Film Review: Fast & Furious
** out of *****

Fast & Furious fails to excite the viewers, despite trying with all the old parts.

Since the 2001 opening of *The Fast and the Furious*, there have been two more installments of the franchise, both missing major characters. Now, with the original cast intact, the producers are giving it one more try to see if they can reach the same popularity of the original.

Fast & Furious — yes, it has the exact same title as the first — begins with Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) and his crew, including girlfriend Letty (Michelle Rodriguez), stealing fuel tanks off a semi in the Dominican Republic. With the success of the hijacking, Dominic receives more attention from authorities and decides to break away from Letty and his crew by relocating to Panama. Shortly after Dominic departs, he finds out his beloved Letty has been murdered, obviously giving Dominic no choice but to return to Los Angeles and avenge her death.

Meanwhile, police Officer Brian O’Conner (Paul Walker), despite his illegal activity in the first and second movies, has worked his way up to become an FBI agent. Really. While Brian investigates drug lord Antonio Braga, Dominic realizes a driver working for Braga is responsible for Letty’s death. Of course, the only way for Brian to bring down Braga and for Dominic to satisfy his need for revenge is to enter into a street race and win a spot as one of Braga’s drivers. Because there’s only one slot, Brian and Dominic are forced to compete.

Don’t expect to be blown away by the film’s car races or special effects. It’s nothing we haven’t seen before, and when we did, it was done a lot better.

Actually, don’t expect to be blown away by anything in Fast & Furious. The movie subscribes to the “Who cares if they can act, as long as they’re hot?” strategy we see in films of significantly low substance. Fast & Furious excels at this approach beautifully, with the exception of double threat Vin Diesel: not hot and can’t act.

From the moment the audience first sees Paul Walker in a black suit and using such phrases as, “We catch Park, we bust the bad guys,” he’s completely not believable as an FBI agent.

As Dominic, Vin Diesel is a consistent one note. His voice monotonously drones through the whole film and other than squinting his eyes a few times, he fails to show any kind of facial expression. This is surprising for a guy who is supposed to be grieving while on a journey of murderous revenge for his dead girlfriend.

Jordana Brewster returns as Mia, Dominic’s sister and Brian’s old flame, but is in the film so briefly — what with her character being of no importance and all — it’s a wonder why she came back. One can only hope it wasn’t just for the pathetic five-second love scene, lacking any kind of purpose or chemistry between her and Brian.

If you really want some driving excitement get some friends and take a drive around Iowa City. It’ll be just as exhilarating as Fast & Furious , if not more so.


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