Saturday, March 28, 2015

Movie Review: "Fast & Furious" (2009)

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Movie"Fast & Furious"
Director: Justin Lin
Year: 2009
Rating: PG-13
Running Time: 1 hour, 47 minutes

Brian O'Connor (Paul Walker) is now working for the FBI and is investigating a drug smuggling cartel led by a man named Braga. Braga recruits drivers through street races, and Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) is one of the racers that gets recruited by him. After finishing a job for Braga, Letty is killed by one of his men. Brian must infiltrate Braga's races and go undercover as a driver for Braga to try and bring him down. When Brian arrives at the races, he finds Dom (Vin Diesel) there competing against him, who is out to get revenge for Letty. 

If "The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift" almost sank the franchise, "Fast & Furious" would be the one to rejuvenated it, not because it's a good film with a compelling plot, because it isn't, but because filmmakers had the sound mind to get both Paul Walker and Vin Diesel back to reprise their roles while promising a return to the roots of the first film in the franchise, if by roots you mean almost the exact same movie. This is something filmmakers really tried to do, though director Justin Lin still had plenty of trouble telling a coherent, cohesive story. Brian O'Connor is back in law enforcement, only this time, he is working for the FBI somehow, despite his criminal past which consists of multiple felonies and a propensity for letting known felons walk free with no questions asked. Dominic Torreto is back, too, and back to hijacking trucks while avoiding the cops. Fate, and Brian needing to go undercover once more, plus Torreto's need for revenge, brings them together to rekindle their initially apprehensive bromance, which is almost the exact scenario from the first film, only this time, there is the added revenge scenario where Dom is concerned. And while we're on that subject, why was Michelle Rodriguez offed in this movie in the first place? It's not like she had a lot going on in 2009, apart from her role in "Avatar." Her stint on the television show "Lost" was long over by then, so you can't tell us it was because she so many people chomping at the bit to work with her.

Cartel leader Braga recruits his drivers by holding street races, which just seems to be an odd recruitment method, but if you'll remember back a few films, drug dealer Carter Verone from "2 Fast 2 Furious" recruited people this same way. It seems in the "Fast and the Furious" universe, street racing is the ultimate viable recruitment tool for drug smugglers who need drivers (and apparently, they all need drivers). The whole concept is so contrived it hurts to think about it upon reflection. Like we have said time and time again, whatever you can do to not think while watching these films is the best thing for you to do. It requires a lot of suspension of disbelief, but not in an alien/cyborg/"Interstellar" sort of way. It's a little harder with "Fast & Furious" to not think because it seems like it really, really wants to be taken seriously as a legitimate crime thriller and not just another mindless car race film filled with cartoonish action, which there is plenty of as usual. Most other films in this series readily accept they are filled mindless nonsense, but this one appears like it really wanted to be seen as a serious piece of cinema for the ages, it just failed miserably to do so. Beyond this, there is no real character development apart from a rehashing of the same "The Fast and the Furious" story line, only several years later. This time around, bringing the gang back together didn't do the franchise a huge positive boost as far as the story was concerned, but with a $362.3 million dollar worldwide gross, well, beggars can't be choosers, now can they?

My Rating: 5.5/10
BigJ's Rating: 5/10
IMDB's Rating: 6.6/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 27%
Do we recommend this movie: Sure, why not?
For our review of "The Fast and the Furious," click here.

For our review of "2 Fast 2 Furious," click here.

For our review of "The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift," click here.

For our review of "Fast Five," click here.

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