Being that the top two grossing opening weekends in Universal Pictures history is the last two installments of the Fast and Furious franchise, I felt it was time for yours truly to take a look at the series.
Yes, believe it or not, I have only seen the original F+F picture. That was twelve years ago and I barely remembered it. So what’s a blogger to do? Why go out and buy the first five flicks and review them all for your perusal. Hopefully, I’ll watch ’em in enough time to catch the sixth feature in the theater and blog about it as well.
Let’s begin with the franchise’s first entry, 2001’s The Fast and the Furious. Director Rob Cohen brings us into the world of California street racing when LAPD officer Brian (Paul Walker) goes undercover to solve a series of truck hijackings. This introduces him to a team of racers led by Dominic (Vin Diesel). His crew includes his girl Letty (Michelle Rodriguez), the one that doesn’t like Brian, the one whose dad is in jail, and, um, the other one. Of course, Brian also falls in love with Dominic’s sister (Jordana Brewster) in order for him to be emotionally invested.
Dominic’s crew is in a long-standing rivalry with an Asian street gang, led by Johnny Tran (Die Another Day‘s Rick Yune) and it is that crew that Brian initially suspects of being the perps. It just can’t be Dominic, especially after he explains his daddy issues to Brian in a male bonding moment.
Truth be told, The Fast and the Furious is no great of example of writing or, in my cases, acting. Walker is a bit of blank slate and Brewster is rather dull as well. The one with screen presence is definitely Mr. Diesel, as well as Ms. Rodriguez.
It’s worth noting that Fast seems directly influenced by an action pic that came ten years before it, Kathryn Bigelow’s Point Break. Call this Point Brake, if you will. Only it’s not near as good.
Where Fast often succeeds is its well choreographed car sequences that certainly make it highly watchable. Director Cohen directs the pic with energy and style with a soundtrack that bumps with Ludacris and Ja Rule beats for the first half and mostly techno in the second half.
Is it enough for me say the original Fast is a good movie? Not really, but it’s close. I certainly get why legions of moviegoers enjoyed it. If I’m being honest, though, I spent the last few minutes of the film wondering two things:
1) In the climactic truck hijacking, how come there’s zero traffic on a freeway other than the hijacked truck and Brian, Dominic, and crew?
2) Isn’t Paul Walker’s character literally the worst undercover cop in the history of undercover cops?
Still, the o.g. F+F gets the franchise off to a serviceable start. Who knew that this modestly budgeted flick would become the biggest franchise in the world that doesn’t involve superheroes or is based on a wildly popular series of books?
**1/2 (out of four)
We’ll see what the gang is up to as my blog series continues shortly with 2003’s 2 Fast 2 Furious.