Review: Fast and the Furious, The (2001)

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Dennis Schwartz

Jul 10, 2001, 4:42:08 PM7/10/01
FAST AND THE FURIOUS, THE (director: Rob Cohen; screenwriters: Gary Scott
Thompson/Erik Bergquist/David Ayer; cinematographers: Ericson Core/Jonathan
Taylor; editor: Peter Honess; cast: Paul Walker (Brian O'Conner), Vin Diesel
(Dominic Toretto), Michelle Rodriguez (Letty), Jordana Brewster (Mia Toretto),
Rick Yune (Johnny Tran), Ted Levine (Sergeant Tanner), Chad Lindberg (Jesse),
Noel Guglielmi (Hector), Ja Rule (Edwin), Matt Schulze (Vince), Vyto Ruginis
(Harry), Johnny Strong (Leon); Runtime: 105; Universal Pictures; 2001)

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

A thoughtless formula movie about street racers, that moves so fast from one
scene to the next it could be geared for those who suffer from ADD (attention
defecit disorder); it should give you a few jolts and cinematic thrills, but the
price paid is that logic is the first thing thrown out of the car window. It
seems as if it was made for those who worship drivers of souped-up, high-tech
cars (a billion dollar underground industry). The theme of this summertime movie
could be that there's little difference in morality between criminals and
undercover cops, and that's probably giving the film too much credit for
thinking about anything but the box office. It's all about racing cars that seem
like rockets when equipped with nitrous oxide; it's the driving scenes that keep
you from nodding off and since they use real cars, with real stunt riders,
that's what grabs your attention throughout and makes you a captive of this
meaningless but childishly fun tale.

It starts off fast-paced with a colorful hijacking of a truck by a gang of
racers and ends fast-paced as the two antiheroes, their relationship being the
key to the story, Walker and Diesel, racing across a train crossing for no
purpose at all except to give the viewer one more cheap drag car thrill before
its amoral ending.

The film's best attempt at dialogue goes something like this...first place racer
(Diesel): "It don't matter if you win by an inch or by a mile; winning's
winning." Evidently the losing racer (Walker) is left speechless over such a
powerful statement. But if you don't mind being taken for a mindless adrenaline
ride across the glittering blacktops of Los Angeles, this could be excused as a
guilty pleasure treat.

Cheesy director Rob Cohen's ("Dragonheart"/"Daylight"/The Skulls) film is about
an undercover policeman who infiltrates a street racing gang to get those who
are hijacking 18-wheelers, and it's also about how groups of Asians, whites, and
blacks form street racing gangs, snarl at each other, bet against each other in
street races, and shoot at each other to maintain their rivalries. To keep
things swinging there are sexy girls strutting in leather pants around the
industrial site the racers congregate at, willing to give their bodies for a
good street racer. There are also swarms of Storm Trooper-like cops rounding up
these deviants.

The young undercover cop, Brian (Paul Walker), gets tight after a bad start with
the top street car racer Dom Toretto (Diesel) by saving him from an arrest.
Dom's dysfunctional loser family of hijackers and racers include: his
mathematical genius high school flunk out engine man Jesse, his childhood pals
Vince and Leon, and his sexy Mexican girlfriend Letty (Rodriguez-"Girlfight"),
who is as tough as anyone in the gang (she punches one guy out with a shot to
the jaw). There's also the nice girl sister of Dom's, Mia (Brewster). In this
flick she goes for being a nice girl, though it's a stretch considering she's
somewhat involved in the gang activities and her most joyous scene was racing
through the nighttime streets of L.A. on a joy ride.

Not only does Brian hit it off with Dom, but he falls in love with the pretty
Mia. This romance leads to the conflict he has of turning over her brother to
the cops, as he becomes closer in spirit with the gang than with his colleagues.
The rogue undercover cop, who's not only under the command of local L. A.
Sergeant Tanner (Levine) but the by-the-book F.B.I command team, must learn how
to walk a blurred line between doing his job and reacting to his emotions.

The gang mostly drives modified Honda Civics and fire crossbows with cables
attached by string at the truck's windshield, so that one of their members can
climb the rope and get in the truck when it slows down. They then overtake the
driver and hijack his goods; this should keep them in highly charged pistons
until the next truck heist. This was exciting but meaningless stuff; there was
no artistic accomplishment derived from this by-the-numbers action pic. The
acting can't be faulted, but it was left on the skidmarks on the road, as this
script was too inane to provide any realistic characterizations. The two women
had badly underwritten parts, Walker was forgettable in his role, and Diesel was
all high-octane energy, acting either angry or looking tough with his shaved
head while constantly flexing his musles. He gave this film whatever acting
charisma it had to have, so at least one human could look as good as the cars.
This was the kind of film where you could have walked in for the last 15 minutes
and would have had no trouble following the story. It's one of those bad flicks
that is irresistible because there's a charge to it that rides through its
mundane story and allows it to almost get away with its ludcricous dialogue. The
dialogue that made me crack my biggest smile went like this -- Dom to Brian: "I
live my life a quarter-mile at a time, for those 10 seconds, I'm free."

If you are looking for a film about reality or one that has a philosophy, or one
that just makes sense, I would avoid this one. But if you want to see a film
about people whom you probably wouldn't like if you met them on the road in
real-life, but on film you can be tolerant of them and even might find this film
oddly enjoyable, then this popcorn movie might taste buttery to you. It has
those other recent car movies, Driven, Gone in Sixty seconds, and Grand Theft
Auto, beat by a city mile.


Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"


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Steve Rhodes

Jul 10, 2001, 7:02:53 PM7/10/01
A film review by Steve Rhodes
Copyright 2001 Steve Rhodes
RATING (0 TO ****): *

Going into THE FAST AND THE FURIOUS, about the world of illegal street racing, I
was hoping for some trashy fun. Sometimes getting one out of two isn't good
enough -- all I got was the trash. Perhaps it was the venue. I didn't see it
at a drive-in, which is probably the only place that has any hope of doing this
movie justice. As directed by Rob Cohen (THE SKULLS), it a made me yearn for
another recent stinker, Renny Harlin's DRIVEN, which at least contained a little
more stylish trash.

Made for young teenage boys whose interests are making the move from video games
to fast cars, THE FAST AND THE FURIOUS features automobiles that would be better
thought of as street rockets than hot rods. Most of the cars have a button like
those on video game controllers that blast the characters into hyperspace. In
the movie, the super speed button causes the car to switch to nitrous oxide,
which propels the driver ahead as fire shoots out the tailpipes.

Although the real stars are built of pure metal, the human supporting cast
includes Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Michelle Rodriguez and Jordana Brewster.
Computer generated actors would have sufficed.

Everything happens to such a heavy rock beat that the film frequently feels like
a long music video advertisement for some new cars aimed at the youth market.

At least the film never insults its viewers with any cheap moralizing. Think of
it as the anti-message movie. Big bosomed girls hang around the races to offer
free sex to the winners. The story has the kids engage in activities that are
not only illegal but highly dangerous as well. How many people, for example,
are killed every year trying to beat a train? One of the movie's key adrenaline
rushes comes from a combination drag and train race. Oh yes, seat belts?
Forget it. They're for sissies.

THE FAST AND THE FURIOUS runs 1:41. It is rated PG-13 for violence, sexual
content and language and would be acceptable for kids around 12 and up.

My son Jeffrey, age 12, gave it ***, saying that he liked the car racing and the
music. He couldn't get to a racing video game fast enough after the movie.

The film is playing in nationwide release now in the United States. In the
Silicon Valley, it is showing at the AMC and the Century theaters.



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Steve Kong

Jul 16, 2001, 11:57:20 PM7/16/01
The Fast and The Furious (2001)
Reviewed by Steve Kong (
Copyright (c) 2001 Steve Kong

When I first saw the trailers for The Fast and The Furious I grumbled at
the thought of the movie. I mean, how much of a movie can someone make out
of those annoyingly loud Rice Rockets that we see on the streets everyday?
I wasn't even planning on seeing this movie in the theatres, it was at best
a movie rental that I could fast forward through.

Am I glad that my younger cousins took me to see this movie in the
theatres. This movie is everything that the Driving-Ms. Cage-Race-Movie
"Gone in 60 Seconds" from last summer should have been. The adrenaline
flows fast and with a wide open throttle in this film. There are only two
reasons to see The Fast and The Furious: The cars and the stunts.

"What about the story?" you ask. There is one, but it's only really there
to glue together some of the best driving stunt work I've seen in a long
time. The story goes something like this: A cop (Paul Walker) goes
undercover to infiltrate a gang of street racers lead by a guy (Vin
Diesel). This gang leader could also be the leader of a gang of people who
rob trucks full of electronic goodies in order to pay for car upgrades.
There's also a love story that happens between the cop and the gang
leader's sister. Not much story, but that's not really what's expected.

Is The Fast and The Furious a bad movie? It is, it's one of those bad
movies that is so fun to watch that after awhile I feel bad for enjoying it
so much : ) The comparisons between The Fast and The Furious and last
summers Gone in 60 Seconds are expected. Whereas The Fast and The Furious
moves at lighting speed, Gone in 60 Seconds crawls to the finish line. The
Fast and The Furious is all about the cars and racing. Gone in 60 Seconds
was self-conscious and wanted to tell and actually good story too. It's too
bad that Gone in 60 Seconds didn't have a good story to tell. Sure there
were exotic cars in Gone in 60 Seconds, but we hardly got to see them,
except for some flashes near the end. And there were car chases in Gone in
60 Seconds, but only one real car chase that featured a kick ass Shelby at
the end of the film - not much of a pay off for sitting through a long
laborious film, if you ask me. How does The Fast and The Furious compare?
Like night and day. There are car chases throughout. We get to see the
actual cars, which were pretty damn impressive, throughout the film (I
loved the Toyota Supra the Dodge Charger at the end). The makes of The Fast
and The Furious know they have no story, so they just pump us up full of
action. And this strategy works!

Don't go see The Fast and The Furious for the story or the acting. See it
for the cars and the stunts. You won't be disappointed.

Mookie Kong (
Mookie's Gone Mad With His Digital Camera!

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