Friday, March 10, 2017

Movie Review: The Fast and the Furious (2001)

Stars: 3 out of 5
Pros: Fun action scenes; the two main characters
Cons: Predictable plot; too many characters, especially at the beginning
The Bottom Line:
High octane movie
While plot, characters suffer
Action makes it fun

Mindless Action

I wasn’t super interested in The Fast and the Furious franchise when the first movie came out years ago, but with each successive sequel, I must admit I got more curious.  Plus, I do enjoy a good action flick, and the stunts looked amazing.  Unrealistic but amazing.  So I finally broke down and watched the first one when it was on TV recently.  My reaction to it was about what I expected.

The movie centers around Brian O’Conner (Paul Walker) who is doing everything he can to work his way into the life of Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel).  Dominic runs a garage, but he also races cars in the secret street races that happen in Los Angeles.  In fact, Brian shows up in a supped up car looking to race, yet Dominic doesn’t seem to trust Brian.

Meanwhile, the LAPD and FBI are investigating a smuggling ring they think is made up of someone from the underground street racing world.  How will that impact Brian and Dominic’s relationship?

I almost shut the movie off several times in the first half hour because I was having that hard a time connecting to the characters.  We are introduced to a large cast of characters almost right away, and it’s hard to connect to anyone.  Plus, I usually have an easier time connecting to characters I’d want to be friends with, and most of the behavior of the characters was a turn off to me.

However, I stuck it out, and I began to connect with Brian and Dominic.  To me, they and their relationship were the heart of the movie, and that interest began to make me care about the film.

Not that the plot was terribly original.  It was fairly easy to spot the plot points coming at us at 180 miles per hour long before they got to us.  There was a sub-plot that worked its way into the main plot and yet felt like padding at the same time.

Of course, any time we got to a racing scene or action sequence, the movie really accelerated.  Oh, the animation of what was going on in the engine was corny, but the rest of the scenes were great.  Realistic?  No.  But so much fun to watch that I didn’t care.

I’m not faulting the actors; in fact, I had fun with the cast.  Ted Levine, who I best know from Monk, plays a cop here, and it was fun to see him in something else.  Meanwhile, I got a huge kick out of seeing Jordana Brewster playing Dominic’s sister.  I first met her as Riggs’s therapist on the TV version of Lethal Weapon, and I couldn’t help but wonder how that character would react to her character here.  I also got a kick out of seeing Michelle Rodriguez, although I didn’t care for her character here much more than I did her character on Lost.  There’s nothing in the overall acting that will blow you away, but it also won’t drive you out of the film.

In the end, my reaction to The Fast and the Furious was about what I expected it to be.  Yet, I am curious enough about the characters that I might just watch the sequel at some point if I find it on TV.

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