Racing Movie Month: "The Fast and the Furious" Review

Photo Credit: Universal Pictures

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Rating: PG-13
Length: 106 minutes
Release Date: June 22, 2001
Directed by: Rob L. Cohen
Genre: Action / Crime / Thriller

Few actions movies shape and define a genre in the way that "The Fast and the Furious" did in 2001. Action movie fan are bound to love the breathtaking race scenes and high-octane excitement that this movie offers at every turn. Brian O'Connor is an undercover cop sent to find the street racing gang responsible for a series of high-profile crimes, but he soon befriends gang leader Dom and discovers that not everything is as it seems. The film features incredible acting and great visuals, creating an engaging universe that draws in viewers while delivering gut punches of non-stop action.

LAPD cop Brian O'Connor (Paul Walker) is sent undercover into the world of L.A.'s street racing gangs to investigate the recent high-speed robberies involving the theft of millions of dollars of electronics from large trucks. His plan is to infiltrate the gang of Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) to discover whether he is responsible for the crimes. He begins talking with Dominic's sister Mia (Jordana Brewster), pretending to sell performance equipment. Vince (Matt Schulze), one of Dom's friends, has it out for Brian from the get-go. Brian attends his first night of street racing, riding with Dom as he faces a competitor. Dom zips past his competition and is declared the winner, but things heat up when police are detected on the scanner. Brian helps Dom avoid their detection, gaining the gang leader's trust in the process.

Vince continues to pester Brian, and the LAPD is waiting for answers. When they get a new lead, Brian is sent to investigate one of Dom's competitors. In the meantime, Dom and his gang are preparing for the infamous Race Wars. When Dom and company discover Brian snooping through the competitor's garage, Brian convinces them that he is only learning about the competition to prepare for the Race Wars. Brian begins falling for Mia as she talk with him about Dom and showcases her own driving skills, and the LAPD begin questioning Brian's dedication to the case. When the Race Wars draw near and the LAPD is hot on the tracks of Dom's gang, Brian must ultimately decide where his loyalties lie.

"The Fast and the Furious" delivers non-stop entertainment for viewers, offering explosions, races, high-speed chases and other action-movie staples. The fast-paced plot captures viewers' attention and holds it for the duration of the film, and the stylish cinematography dazzles audiences with breathtaking visuals. The characters are likable and interesting, bringing personality and relevance to the plot. The developing friendship between Brian and Dom is a unique twist, and it proves relevant to the plotline. This film briefly touches on themes like loyalty and friendship, but it is generally very shallow in its thematic material, concentrating more on intricate action sequences. This is very typical of true action movies, and it doesn't necessarily speak to the quality of the film.

The factor that truly brings this film together, however, is the superior acting. "The Fast and the Furious" is largely considered Paul Walker's breakout role for good reason. Walker plays the lead protagonist with passion and style, creating a likable character that audiences love. Walker's slim, attractive figure is the perfect complement to the intimidating musculature of Vin Diesel. The renowned action star is the perfect match for the intimidating Dom, and his performance is nearly flawless. The two communicate well as their respective characters, engaging audiences in their problems, feelings and developing camaraderie. Jordana Brewster, Matt Schulze, Rick Yune and the rest of the cast also do not disappoint, delivering notable performances.

Despite its high-speed excitement, "The Fast and the Furious" does encounter a few roadblocks. The plot is less than creative, so the turns are somewhat predictable. The dialogue is also somewhat juvenile, creating an artificial feel to character interactions. However, this film's goal is clearly not to stun audiences with an amazing plots. It is a true action film at heart, offering the fast cars and beautiful women typical of the genre.

"The Fast and the Furious" may not be the best action movie ever, but there is no doubt that it has had a significant impact on the action genre. The plot and dialogue are mediocre, but the action sequences and acting are brilliant, saving the film and elevating it to must-watch status. Paul Walker and Vin Diesel have great on-screen chemistry, creating a unique plot element. Overall, "The Fast and the Furious" is a highly entertaining film that makes an explosive start for an action movie line-up on movie night.

Rating: 3 out of 5