Fast and Furious (2009) Universal Pictures
1 hr 47 mins.
Starring: Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Michelle Rodriguez, Jordana Brewster, Sung Kang
Directed by: Justin Lin
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Rating: ** stars (out of 4 stars)
Besides taking article words “the” not to mention “and” from the title as previous billed in this movie’s first 2001 installment, Fast and Furious pretty much contains the same high-octane hollow hedonism that has run through this routinely noisy, frenetic film franchise. Yeah, moviemaker Justin Lin (who directed the third Furious entry in this glossy gas-guzzling series) spins a tedious tale of hot cars and hot chicks in this speeding-wheel spectacle that has all the charm and intrigue of a shopping mall speed bump.
Pedal-to-the-medal pretty boy Paul Walker is back in the driver’s seat as FBI agent Brian O’Connor out to burn rubber in the name of the lawlessness on the open road. More importantly, bald-headed badass Vin Diesel returns to the scene in Furious that had made him and Walker household names several years ago. Diesel’s hard-driving ex-con Dom Torreto is back in the frenzied fold…and with a seething score to settle. Geez, what else is new, huh? Basically, Fast and Furious pits sinner (Diesel) against saint (Walker) in another situational showdown that exploits revved-up cars and curvaceous babes but manages to run out of fuel in an otherwise woefully pedestrian story about motorized menaces and Mexican mobsters needing to protect their drug-oriented stash.
Not surprising at all, Fast and Furious wisely doesn’t depart from its bread and butter in terms of its vapid hunger for velocity and vixens. Following its natural theme from the aforementioned The Fast and the Furious (2001), 2 Fast 2 Furious (2003), and The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift (2006), 2009’s Fast and Furious is drenched in fast-paced predictability. Essentially, the sophomoric plot has the unshakable need to fluctuate between its meat-headed mayhem about fancy wheels that screech aimlessly and the gas-hoarding guys (namely Diesel and Walker) that oversee the pulsating proceedings with blank conviction.
Lin’s empty-minded speedster saga never raises any legitimate suspense or tension about the illegal street racing subculture in Los Angeles nor enhances this showcase with a suitable storyline worthy of a Speed Racer cartoon rerun. Lin just shifts everything into high gear and helms an obnoxious popcorn actioner relentlessly stuck in neutral. The souped-up cars, intense leading men and the curvy cuties may all be polished and ready for some hardcore racing but the overall sentiment is as empty as an abandoned and stripped rusty vehicle’s gas tank.
In this latest vehicle (excuse the pun), rivals Toretto and O’Connor are reluctantly forced to team up to take down the same Mexican drug lord. Hence, it’s a coincidence that this drug-harboring criminal mind needs resourceful drivers to drop off his vast shipments on a timely (read: VERY swift) manner. Besides, Toretto has a serious bone to pick with this big-time thug as he’s responsible for the demise concerning one of his loved ones. Obviously, this is the main reason why Toretto and his crew (Michelle Rodriguez as girlfriend Letty; Jordana Brewster as sister Mia and Sung Kang as a close associate) are back in L.A. after a daring heist concerning a speeding tanker truck.
Lin has an overactive eye for the action-packed platitudes that bombard Chris Morgan’s spotty screenplay. The non-stop kinetic scenes are lavishly visual and Lin does create an impish momentum for turbo-charged trivialities involving the energetic stunts and overall ribaldry regarding the major players. It’s too bad that Lin forgot to fortify his nonsensical narrative with something definitively substantial to go along with his sleek and slick racing autos and bouncy bimbos.
Granted that both Diesel and Walker indulge in this monopolizing material with great anticipation of partaking in a popcorn pleaser that will appease the average fanboy looking for some kind of guilty pleasure jolt. Diesel sleepwalks through this high-charged hokum while biding his time between monosyllabic utterances and the latest feel of an errant steering wheel. Walker’s stint as the determined law enforcer in the midst of the stimulated chaos certainly needs a tune-up more than the hot wheels he drives recklessly.
Woefully contrived and cliched in its giddy-minded gumption, Fast and Furious races to the finish line without much of an earned victory.