How do you revive an ailing franchise? How about bringing back the two stars who made it popular in the first place?
The Fast and The Furious was a turbo charged slice of street racing fun, but after losing Vin Diesel to the xXx films, and the slightly weird choice to make what feels like a straight to DVD spin-off in Tokyo Drift, the attempts to establish a franchise had seemingly had run out of gas. Then, this trailer came out…
I genuinely thought it was for a new Bourne film, and I’ll admit to being slightly disappointed that it was a new entry into a series of car racing films. However, my interest was suitably peaked so I got back onboard.
Fast & Furious starts with Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) and his gang hijacking an oil tanker in the Dominican Republic. They are successful, but not without leaving a rather explosive mess behind. Dom decides that it is too dangerous to continue their current way of life, and, while Han goes off to Tokyo, he leaves his girlfriend Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) behind.
At the same time, Brian O’Connor (Paul Walker) is working for the FBI, and chasing up leads on Artur Braga, a Mexican heroin smuggler, as seen in the trailer above. When Letty is murdered, Dom comes back to the states, and O’Connor tries to track him. While looking for Letty’s murderers, Dom ends up finding the same man O’Connor was, and so the two are reunited. They end up competing in a race to take a spot in Braga’s next run across the border, which Dom wins. O’Connor manages to get on the team anyway, and the two narrowly escape an ambush. What will Dom and Brian do with their haul? Will Dom find the man who killed Letty? And where does Brian O’Connor’s loyalty really lie – with the Toretto’s or the FBI?
So, despite hints of evolution, Fast & Furious isn’t a particularly interesting movie. It tries to be more of a crime film than street racing one, but the series didn’t complete that transition until the Dwaye Johnson infused Fast 5. There’s also a Vin Diesel film called A Man Apart that does “the police man going after a personal grudge” better (although not particularly well) than Paul Walker’s story arc here.
The tunnel based sequences are indicative of the problems of the film. For the finale we have an excellent car chase, however we have already seen the same cars (pretty much) driving though exactly the same tunnels earlier. The first sequence is just a display of formation driving that has very little tension, and is actually a detriment to the finale. It also throws away a potentially interesting ending by literally going back on it seconds later.
All in all, Fast and Furious is one of the weakest entries into the franchise. It’s muddled in that it doesn’t give the audience either enough street racing (there’s one race) or heists (again, there’s one, right at the beginning) and worse of all -it’s a bit boring. There are plenty of good looking cars, but we never get to see them do anything! Still, it righted the ship and pointed it back in the right direction. And it made Dwayne Johnson as Luke Hobbs possible. For that we should all be thankful.
Until next time, stay gold, Ponyboy, stay gold. See you soonish.
PS Interested in buying Fast & Furious? You can buy all seven films at this link for just £19.99