With the return of Dominic Toretto at the end of part 3 the fourth movie, now simply called “Fast & Furious” brings back most of the original cast from the first movie. While the poster looks stylish and nothing like the dark with neon accented ones from the previous movies, the plot seems to be a straight copy of the second movie. Once again Paul Walker has to infiltrate the gang of a drug dealer and the only way to get in is to win a street race. He does all of this once again with the help of an old friend, but instead of Tyrese it’s Vin Diesel this time.
Fast & Furious is fun for some right reasons, but as I’ve come to expect from this franchise, also for a lot of wrong reasons. The movie uses a lot of unnecessary CG-elements like the high-tech navigation system used in a race or the now cliche scenes where the camera flies through the engine when stuff like nitro is being used. There are also a chase sequences at the middle and end of the movie where several cars travel through a mine-like tunnel at top speed which is clearly created, at least partially, with CGI. The tunnel is in the middle of the desert between America and Mexico, which is also the flattest desert I know. It’s funny how those tuned lowered cars can hardly maneuver over a speed bump, yet here they have a desert just flat enough so the cars don’t get stuck or hit any bumps.
Despite the CG this fourth movie actually contains some nice action sequences and is the movie in the franchise where they try to take things in a different direction. The previous movies where more down to earth. This movie has an opening scene which consists of Vin Diesel and Michelle Rodriguez dodging a flaming tanker full of fuel by driving underneath it as it bounces towards them. The makers take the material less serious this time and by doing that make it easier to watch.
On the other hand the script writers really took the easy way out this time, not only do they recycle a lot of elements from the first two movies they also make some pretty stupid choices in the script. The movie sets up Vin Diesel as his own personal CSI. The script has his long time girlfriend Rodriguez get murdered in a car crash. Vin goes to the scene, looks at the prints that are still there after all these this time and that’s all he needs to know what kind of car was used with what type of engine and tires. Wouldn’t you know it, he knows exactly the kind of guy that does these exact type of engine mods. Man, is he lucky she was killed in a car accident. If she got killed by the butler in the library he would’ve no clue where to go. Cluedo – The Fast & Furious edition: where every victim is killed by a car. “It’s an emerald green 2004 Camaro with Continental Tires”.
What’s also very funny is how they spend half the time looking for a guy named Braga, the leader of the drug cartel which apparently nobody has ever seen. Yet when they do find out who he is, his prints were an international database; fingerprints, photo, full name and everything. Did the FBI really never contact one foreign agency as soon as it became clear they were looking for Braga? Braga is in their face all the time under an alias, nobody ever sent a photo of this guy for facial recognition just to double check?
Another curious thing was the appearance of Han, a character we saw getting killed in the previous movie. Here he pops up again alive and well without any explanation.
What surprised me is that this movie is seemingly less gay than the previous movies, though it’s still very much a sausage fest. On one hand both Vin Diesel and Paul Walker have sex with a woman, which is rare in these movies, on the other hand the majority of the screen time these guys have they share with each other, once again with lots of scenes where they give each other intense stares. There’s also this black guy who calls Diesel “baby” at one point. I’ve never called another guy “baby”. Then there’s a curious scene which is basically lifted from “Tokyo Drift”. It’s a scene in a nightclub but the whole dance floor is only filled with beautiful women, yet aside from cartel members being busy working not one guy is there to hit on these girls. All these girls have are other girls, so it must be some sort of lesbian nightclub I guess.
And finally there’s a scene where a Michelle Rodriguez substitute asks Diesel “Are you one of those boys who prefers cars to women?” to which he responds with “I’m one of those boys that appreciates a fine body, regardless of the make.” So apparently he’s bisexual. Glad we finally got that “straight” (ba dum tss).
Fast & Furious is basically an upgrade of the previous three movies with a lot of bug fixes. It focusses less on all the juvenile parts like the street races and visually raped cars but more on high octane action that sometimes goes over the top. There are no annoying rappers in this movie for once, which is also a good thing. Sadly the annoying rapper part has been replaced by a white guy named Dwight, who speaks in third person and who’s favorite insult is “nut sack”.
What I do find intriguing is how this movie has Vin Diesel return. When looking at his filmography he did 7 movies with varying critical acclaim before reappearing in this franchise aside from the cameo in “Tokyo Drift”. Since then his only movie roles are in the next two sequels, “Fast Five” and “Furious 6”, of this franchise, with #7 already announced. It seems that these movies keep his career alive. There is another Riddick coming up as well as a new XXX movie starring him, but it seems that outside the F&F franchise he hasn’t got a lot of work in movies. Maybe Stallone should call him for the next Expendables movie.