Fast and Furious exists in a world where the future of a multi-billion dollar drug smuggling industry rests entirely on whether or not they can find guys to drive fast. Were I a drug kingpin, I’d probably smuggle my Meth across the border in small baggies carried by legions of unsuspecting college kids crammed into dirty Ford Pintos and old Chevy vans. Or maybe you just walk it across. That seems to work for millions of illegal immigrants. But in this world, it makes more sense to put all your drugs into the flashiest, fastest, street racer imaginable and then send it through a ridiculous underground tunnel at an unreasonably high-rate of speed. If you can accept that, then maybe you’ll have a good time with Fast and Furious. I didn’t.
Fast and Furious isn’t big on logic, and neither were any of the previous entries in this surprisingly long-lived racing franchise. I just didn’t remember the others being quite this stupid. What it does have going for it is original parts. Vin Diesel returns to the franchise in a starring role for the first time since the original film, The Fast and the Furious. If you’ve seen it then you know, he carried that movie. Unfortunately he doesn’t carry this one. He’s in it but his character, Dominic Toretto, lacks most of the complexity which made him so compelling the first time around.
While we’ve been away watching two other Fast-Furious movies, Dominic has been off in the Mexican desert robbing fuel trucks with Letty (Michelle Rodriguez). The movie opens with a big action sequence in which they rip off a truck. It’s supposed to be exciting, and it is for a few minutes, until the script reverts to its natural state: clinically brain dead. Eventually something goes wrong and Dominic gets really pissed. He’s out for vengeance and so he returns to the United States to exact it. It’s not long before he’s reunited with FBI agent Brian O’Connor (Paul Walker), and with the help of coincidence they team up to do what needs done. It’s probably not a spoiler to tell you that what needs done is a lot of driving around.
And a lot of driving around could be really fun. Even with a script this dumb, a few well done race sequences could easily have saved it from the Wal-Mart bargain bin. Fast and Furious attempts them, and then for the most part botches them. There’s only really one street racing scene in the entire film and it’s composed almost entirely of extreme close-ups which make it impossible to tell what’s going on, until they zoom out for an aerial shot. Except apparently they ran out of fuel for the helicopter because instead of actually showing us the cars from the air director Justin Lin cuts to a lame, lame, cartoony, computer generated sequence; a half-assed representation of what the drivers are supposed to be seeing on their GPS. Come on dude, let us see the race! We didn’t buy tickets for an artist’s recreation.
The film’s other driving sequences are somewhat better staged, unfortunately they all seem to happen in dust storms or inside crowded tunnels where again, you can’t really see what’s going on. Sure we get close ups of Vin Diesel gritting his teeth and squinting, or a side shot of Paul Walker grinning stupidly (the only thing he’s capable of), but what about the fucking cars man! Great I saw a fender! Oh man that fender just got hit by something! Holy shit a rock! Oh a car flipped! Whose was it? I don’t know.
Fast and Furious lacks the sense of humor of 2 Fast 2 Furious and it’s missing the slick, shiny newness that made The Fast and the Furious such a touchstone for the world’s gearheads. But worst of all, even for a racing movie this one’s terminally dumb. You can only watch a bunch of uniformed cops park in front of a perp’s house and wonder why he doesn’t come home so many times. Gee detective, I don’t know. You think maybe he doesn’t want to be arrested? Arrest me instead. I’d rather spend a night in the slammer than sit through this again.