WHAT A DRAG
A scene from 'The Fast & the Furious'
Courtesy Photo
"THE FAST & THE FURIOUS"
*1/2 stars 107 minutes | Rated: PG-13
Opened: Friday, June 22, 2001
Directed by Rob Cohen

Starring Paul Walker, Vin Diesel, Michelle Rodriguez, Jordana Brewster, Rick Yune, Chad Lindberg, Johnny Strong, Matt Schulze, Ja Rule, Ted Levine



 COUCH CRITIQUE
   SMALL SCREEN SHRINKAGE: 25%
   LETTERBOX: RECOMMENDED

Car chases are never as much fun on a 20" Trinitron, and this movie has little else going for it.

   VIDEO RELEASE: 01.02.2002



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Cool chases can't save stupid plot about cop undercover among street racers in 'The Fast & the Furious'

By Rob Blackwelder

In its first 120 seconds, "The Fast and the Furious" makes it abundantly clear that if you're interested in anything more than gunning engines, squealing tires, custom paint jobs and arm-ornament hard-body bimbos, you're watching the wrong movie.

The opening scene is a stunt-driving sequence in which three pimped-out black Hondas ambush an 18-wheeler in what may be the most idiotically complicated hijacking in movie history.

Inside the Hondas are black marketeers looking to boost the truck's load of VCRs. But instead of forcing the truck off the road in more battle-worthy vehicles then holding the driver at gunpoint, one Honda pulls in front and a guy stands up through the sunroof, firing a harpoon through the truck's window. Then he proceeds to edge along the wire attached to the harpoon, climbing into the cab to confront the driver.

All this occurs at roughly 80 miles per hour, but even with the speed factor it's not a terribly interesting chase scene. It's just overwhelmingly and undeniably stupid.

Then the plot kicks in, making that opening scene seem like it was awash in intellectualism. Scruffy, post-pubescent pretty boy Paul Walker ("The Skulls") plays an FBI agent who goes undercover on L.A.'s street racing scene to hunt down these moronic master criminals. He buddies up to the stone-cold prime suspect (talented tough Vin Diesel from "Pitch Black"), beds the guy's sexy sister (Jordana Brewster, "The Invisible Circus") and proves his mettle drag racing a super souped-up Misubishi Eclipse fitted with dangerous, burst-of-speed nitrous oxide fuel injection controlled from a dash-mounted laptop computer.

All the money and effort in "Furious" clearly went into the over-revved stunt driving -- which is undeniably very cool once you get past all the attention-deficit editing, inside-the-engine F/X shots and acceleration-warped perspective-cam stunt photography. Director Rob Cohen (also from "The Skulls") pumps enough adrenaline into the drag racing and the chase scenes to get the blood pumping as cars speed in front of approaching trains, cruise underneath the trailers of other 18-wheelers and sometimes wreck spectacularly.

But on the whole, the picture is nothing more than a shiny object designed to entertain the simpleminded. It's a wonder Cohen even bothered filming scenes with dialogue.

Can't somebody just make a highlights film of race scenes from pointless movies like "Driven," "Gone in 60 Seconds" and "The Fast and the Furious" so we can watch the zooming cars without having to put up with the brain-dead plots?






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