The Fast and the Furious (15)

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The ViewLondon Review

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Review byMatthew Turner18/09/2001

Four out of five stars
Running time: 107 mins

High-octane action thriller that does exactly what it says on the tin: fast cars, great stunts, cool characters and a halfway-decent plot, it’s B-movie heaven.

Action movie fans with any street cred at all will no doubt spot immediately that the plot to The Fast and the Furious is blatantly ripped off Kathryn Bigelow’s Point Break, in which FBI Agent Keanu Reeves infiltrates Patrick Swayze’s band of bank-robbing gung-ho surfers and sky-divers.

So, we get cars instead of surfboards and we get Blond Pretty Boy Paul Walker (soon to be A Lot More Famous Than He Is Right Now) standing in for Keanu (which is bad), but we also get Future Action God Vin Diesel (Pitch Black) standing in for Patrick 'Where Am I Now?' Swayze. Which is good. Very good.

The basic plot is as follows: lorries are being hi-jacked by a group of daredevil stunt-drivers driving souped-up cars. Coincidentally, there's also a group of gung-ho drag-strip racers, led by top racer ‘Dom’ (Diesel), who go about 'racin' for pinks' and cash every week at a Secret Location Everyone Seems To Know About.

The rest is plotting-by-numbers - Walker infiltrates, bonds with Diesel, falls for Diesel's sister (Jordana Brewster, from The Faculty), and lots of fast driving and fighting ensues while we wait for Diesel to wise up…

The Fast and the Furious was (indeed, is) an unexpectedly huge hit in the States – apparently even director Rob Cohen was surprised by its success.

With a title that deliberately evokes 1950s drag-racing exploitation flicks and its shamelessly plundered plot, this is the B-movie in its purest form, delivering top quality action scenes aplenty.

Yes, it has plot-holes you could drive a truck through (the cops need to stop the hi-jackers before "the truckers take things into their own hands") but somehow you just don’t care.

One interesting point of unexpected accuracy is that these drag-strip racers actually exist (according to recent newspaper articles), though they tend to race in the desert or in specially provided racing areas, rather than just blocking off street blocks, etc.

At any rate, the stunt work here is excellent. Supposedly, some of it is CGI, but if so, it’s impossible to tell, which is definitely the way CGI ought to be used, if at all.

Sadly, Jordana Brewster is pretty much wasted, as is Michelle 'Girlfight' Rodriguez (as Vin's girlfriend), who nonetheless seems to be picking up all the attention from the movie, unsurprisingly, as she has the better character and better scenes.

Walker is hilariously bad in true Keanu style, though - he even sounds the same, so much so that you'd swear Keanu dubbed in all his lines. All of which means that it’s undoubtedly Vin Diesel’s film – with his imposing physique and gravelly voice, he even makes cheese-laden lines such as "I live my life fifteen seconds at a time" work.

Let's face it, you can hardly go to a film like this and not know what you're going to get, and in that sense it delivers splendidly.

The perfect Friday-night action movie, it’s worth seeing for Diesel’s star-in-the-making performance alone, and is highly enjoyable even if you can’t tell one make of car from another. Recommended.

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Content updated: 18/10/2017 08:39

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