- Released Internationally on 01/04/09
- Released in Malta by KRS on 10/04/09
In a nutshell
An international criminal who uses his driving expertise to hijack targets on the tarmac is looking to revenge the death of his ex-girlfriend. In the seedy underworld of drug trafficking he meets up with his old acquaintance and driving buddy, who now works as an undercover FBI agent. Together they make it onto the highly selective team of expert drivers who shuttle heroin into the US from Mexico, and seek to bring down the drug cartel from within.
The films and the franchise
In 2001, a film called The Fast and the Furious drove through the summer box-office with an action-packed mix of fast cars and scantily-clad women. It did reasonably well, and as seems to always happen with hit films nowadays (unless your film is, say, Ray or Munich), sequels soon followed. Chronologically, this film is set between the 2nd and the 3rd film, and manages to breathe some life into a flailing franchise by reuniting the entire main cast from the original film (and giving it more or less the same title).
Who’s in it?
The appropriately named Vin Diesel (xXx, The Chronicles of Riddick) returns as the wanted criminal who likes to steal from behind the wheel. After sitting out the first sequel, Diesel had returned for 2006’s Tokyo Drift, and is now re-teamed with his love interest from the first film, played by Michelle Rodriguez (S.W.A.T., the upcoming Avatar). The less appropriately named Paul Walker (Flags of our Fathers, Eight Below) plays the FBI agent with a dark side, whose passion for driving gets him caught up with his old allies. His romantic history involves the sister of Diesel’s character, portrayed by Jordana Brewster, who also returns from the first film. The director’s chair is filled by Justin Lin, who had helmed the previous outing in the franchise.
More of the same
As expected, and probably as hoped-for by the franchise’s core audience, the film delivers more road races, more pimped-up cars, and more shapely female fans in this alternative world of high-speed driving. The prologue sequence is the most memorable, featuring a high-speed hijack of a land train full of fuel on a desert highway in broad daylight (of which you can see an abridged version in the trailer below). Still, the action sequences seem formulaic and predictable, without any real tension or surprises.
The major flaw however, is that once again, once you look beyond the shiny bodywork, there’s little else to savour. The film plays out like a playlist of pre-determined action sequences, with a few forced moments of sentimentality in between. Hijack scene – check, road race – check, chase scene – check, tunnel chase – check, and so on. And despite Diesel’s star power and macho image, both of which are essential ingredients to the film, it’s often painful to watch him act, and he is obviously more comfortable driving cars than trying to look sad or pensive.
At the finish line
In the end, I guess it all depends what your expectations are. If you enjoyed the previous three films and want to see more juiced-up cars defying the speed cameras, then this is your ticket. But if you like your action films to have a decent story and interesting characters, then this is unlikely to turn you into a fast and furious fan.
http://www.apple.com/trailers/universal/fastandfurious/ (High-res QuickTime)