If ever a film proved that style over substance could work: it would be The Fast and the Furious. Like any good late 90s/early 2000 movie, it decides to overwhelm with flashy cars, hip-hop, sexy women and enough testosterone to start a Pro-Wrestling business. It shouldn’t work but somehow, if you allow it, you may find yourself enjoying the movie.
There is a lot that The Fast and Furious does very well. It knows it’s audience. This is a film aimed squarely at the teenage-boy market. The men are hard-hitting, no-nonsense masculine meat-heads (sorry Petrol-Heads) who talk in car clichés. The woman all dress like it is Friday night at a club and are instantly impressed (turned-on) by a neon-light under a car and flames from an exhaust. The soundtrack is the biggest Hip-Hop beats of the early 2000s and any sort of story is given way to an action focused and mainly nonsensical story.
All of which is extremely cool. You can’t help but be swept up in the world of underground street-racing and if you allow your disbelief to be suspended, you want to hang-out with Vin Diesel and Michelle Rodriguez, even if it’s just for the late-night parties and weirdly spiritual barbeques.
The cool exterior clearly hides the biggest flaw of the film; the story. Quite frankly a Point Break rip-off, The Fast and the Furious isn’t trying to do anything clever with it’s plot. It is an excuse to get from one set-piece to another. This could be the races through unofficially closed streets, with effective shots of the workings of both the inside of the car’s hood as well as the driving seat or it could be the spectacular opening set-piece and thrilling finale.
The stunts are the biggest strength of the movie and although it seems old-hat now, seeing a car drive through and under an 18-wheeler truck will always be impressive. This is followed up with a great finale which stretches physics and credibility but adds a decent crescendo to a film full of cool car moments.
You can’t hide some of the film’s biggest flaws with cool set-pieces and stunts though. The script is awful and some of the dialogue just jars with it’s inauthenticity. Vin Diesel telling Paul Walker he lives “a quarter-mile at a time” may look cool on paper but is laughable when delivered as straight-faced as he does.
Not that it matters when the person reacting is as wooden and poor as Walker is in this movie. Practically grinning his way through every scene, Walker is a distraction at times with how bad his acting is. Diesel holds the film fantastically and makes for a compelling character where Walker sucks the believability out a film which is teetering on the edge of plausibility to begin with.
It isn’t enough to make this film a bad one though. It won’t be anyone’s favourite but if you allow yourself to be caught up in what it is trying to do, there is a lot to like about a Point Break rip-off with fast cars and angry men.
Overall, The Fast and Furious is a cool movie if you’re into that sort of thing. It is definitely entertaining even if you’re not. It has a cool soundtrack, impressive stunts and a story which is easy enough to follow. Unfortunately the script is awful and is being delivered by a wooden Paul Walker performance.
Rating – 3
(1 – Awful, 2 – Average, 3 – Good, 4 – Great, 5! – Must See)