Thursday, April 16, 2009

REVIEW: Fast & Furious

Fast & Furious

Year: 2009
Director: Justin Lin
Starring: Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Jordana Brewster, Michelle Rodriguez, John Ortiz
Distributor: Universal Pictures
MPAA: Rated PG-13

Universal wanted a fresh cast and crew for Tokyo Drift because the previous film, 2 Fast 2 Furious, wasn't what fans and critics really wanted. This wasn't necessarily a smart move because while Tokyo Drift became the better film compared to 2 Fast 2 Furious, it also angered fans who were looking to see their favorite cast members from the previous film, return. So Universal had to go back to the drawing board and really think about what they want to do with this series seeing as how its become one of their most successful and entertaining franchises. What better to do than bring back Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Jordana Brewster and Michelle Rodriguez alongside Tokyo Drift director, Justin Lin. This was a bold move for Universal since these actors haven't been together since the original which was 8 years ago. Luckily, it payed off because Fast & Furious broke records with an estimated $71 million weekend gross becoming the highest grossing film in the month of April. Not only that, but the film beat the first, second and third films opening weekend numbers and even out grossed what Tokyo Drift made in its entire domestic run ($63.7 million).

Plot Outline:
When a crime brings them back to L.A., fugitive ex-con Dom Toretto (Vin Diesel) reignites his feud with agent Brian O'Connor (Paul Walker). But as they are forced to confront a shared enemy, Dom and Brian must give in to an uncertain new trust if they hope to outmaneuver him. And from convoy heists to precision tunnel crawls across international lines, two men will find the best way to get revenge: push the limits of what's possible behind the wheel.

Even though Fast & Furious was filmed after Tokyo Drift, its actually a prequel to Tokyo Drift. The plot in Fast & Furious is pretty thin. What I mean by thin is that it isn't fleshed out as it was in Tokyo Drift and its hardly original. A major character dies and we have another character trying to find out who was behind it. Its pretty simple and doesn't really have a whole lot of layers to it. If you were expecting a strong story, than you will be disappointed. Why in the blue hell would anyone be watching these movies if they were expecting a great story? That's not what these films are and people come to see these movies simply for the hot cars and sexy chicks. I enjoyed the humor that the film kept that the previous films all had. The film does have alot of character development and its mostly trough out the film. We learn more about Dom and what happened to him after the first film. Yes, we still have cheesy dialogue that has now become a custom thing in these films. Its definitely not as bad as the dialogue in 2 Fast 2 Furious, but its still cheesy. I liked how the film made some references to the previous movies and also made a reference to Tokyo Drift which is technically the sequel to this film in terms of story. I also really enjoyed the racing scenes which to me felt much more intense than the previous films. The tunnel scene near the end is almost breathtaking in a way. Director Justin Lin really knows how to shoot some awesome action scenes and it definitely shows. We also get sexy chicks that have also become a custom thing in these films.

Vin Diesel returns as the hard hitting Dominic Toretto and he does a fairly good job in his role. I enjoyed Diesel's character in the first film and always thought how much of a bad-ass he is. Its really nice to see him return to the series that once made him famous. His Dominic Toretto is as aggressive as ever and still wins his races the way he always does. Paul Walker also returns as the undercover agent who knows how to race when needed, Brian O'Conner. Its also nice to see his character return and play the part that also made him a star. His character is much more mature now and isn't the goofball we have come to expect. Jordana Brewster reprises her role as Mia Toretto and shes as good as she was before. I really like Brewster and think shes one of the hottest girls around even though her acting ain't all that great. She does a pretty good job in her role and delivers whats needed. We also have the the sexy action star Michelle Rodriguez returning as Letty. Even though her role isn't as big as some of the other cast members in the film, she was still a fine addition to an already cool cast. John Ortiz plays as the headmaster, Campos. His lines are particularly cheesy and make him look less of a bad guy than he already his. Hes still a good actor and does his thing here, but just don't expect much from him.

The visual look of Fast & Furious stays pretty much in line with the previous installments in the series. The first 3 films were already pretty much demo material on the DVD format. Fast & Furious benefits from a clean source considering its practically knew to theaters. I didn't notice much in terms of film grain and the image always stayed smooth through out its runtime. Colors were pretty much as vibrant as they can be. The contrast did seem alittle hot at times, but I think this was done particularly by the weather at the time of its filming. While they aren't as colorful as 2 Fast 2 Furious or as brightly lit like Tokyo Drift, they still have a distinctive look that makes them special. Black levels are strong and really dark the way it should be. The night scenes still manage to look great despite the hard lighting. Flesh tones were spot on perfect and their wasn't a time where the characters looked out of place. Detail was fantastic and revealed a good amount of dimension in the picture. Some of the CGI effects did tend to look alittle ugly near the end, but close up shots looked incredible.

The soundtrack in Fast & Furious is just as snazzy as the previous films. While its not as music oriented or as fresh as Tokyo Drift, it still reminds you of that feeling you get when your watching one of these movies. The original music is done by Brian Tyler who also scored the last entry in the series, Tokyo Drift. The soundtrack is mostly mixed with some rap/ R&B. Its perfectly suitable for a high octane action flick like this and fans of the series shouldn't be disappointed. While the sound in all the Fast and the Furious films were good, its in the bass department where its true power shines. The bass is nothing, but spectacular. Its strong and packs quite a punch. The theater was rocking loud. It was dynamically spread out and didn't just feel front heavy like most action films these days. The previous films in the series were all reference material when it came to the sound department. I'm sure when this bad boy hits DVD/Blu Ray later this year, it will sound just as rocking if not better than its predecessors.

I honestly wasn't expecting this film to live up to the previous films especially the first, but damn was I pleased when I left the theater. Not only was it better than the last two entry in the series, but it was on par with the first film. While I still think the first film was the best, Fast & Furious definitely comes as close as it gets. Its the true sequel to the first in alot of ways, but also a fun high octane thrill ride. The story is still predictable and cheesy, but I appreciate that their was more character development in this film than the previous ones. The car scenes are awesome and still kept me on the edge of my seat. The cast was generally favorable and its nice to see most of the original gang back. The visual look of the movie was great with a good amount of detail everywhere. The soundtrack was on par with past films and is definitely reference material once it hits DVD/Blu Ray. I can recommend this to those looking for a good popcorn flick. Its far from perfect and somewhat over the top, but its still mindless fun. Fans of the series will be pleased and I'm more then stoked for another one.

Grade: C+


Jaccstev said...

For me, the first one is still the best of all. though, i was pretty pleased with this because the action is still gripping. Other complaint i guess is that its not really about racing anymore

Farzan said...

I understand your thought about the "its not about racing anymore". I know the series has been about racing at heart, but I also appreciate the fact that their at the least trying to include a story to it. I'm sure we will see more racing in future installments simply because its a Fast and Furious movie, and you cant have a film with a name like that, and not have racing in it.

Tamas Das said...

i liked this one. great action scenes! it was nice to find back the same actors from its first release. also the storyline was good.

micky said...

loved it so much. i enjoy these movies for its cars and ladies. not story

Mafer said...

The first one is the best of all.
Fast & Furios is a great movie, but i dont really like the last one.

Bv cures

Laurence Modithre said...

The first part of any movie sequel is always the best! Nothing beats the original story! Well, Fast and the Furious movies are concentrated on one story. The only thing that doesn't change is the way Vin Diesel acts in the film. Some guys probably get intimidated of him. LOL!