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"Fast and Furious"

Directed by Justin Lin.
Written by Chris Morgan.
Starring Paul Walker, Vin Diesel, Jordana Brewster and Michelle Rodriguez.
Release Year:  2009
Review Date:  4/7/09


I'll give it to "Fast & Furious", the fourth film in the seminal girls-guns-cars series: no one has been able to successfully rip this franchise off, and bringing back the film's original stars made for a not-bad time at the movies.

Vin Diesel and Paul Walker are back as bad boy Dom Toretto and Brian O'Conner; this time, they team up to take down a drug runner (John Ortiz, from "Miami Vice") with the help of some cars, some nasty staredowns and the occasional shotgun.  Even though O'Conner works for the L.A. FBI unit (they appear to sublet offices from CTU of "24", if that's even possible) and Dom has been living a life of crime outside our borders, it's all about taking down the big drug runner to avenge the death of a friend.  So what if none of this makes any sense?

The script is terrible, the acting by nearly everyone is terrible, and--believe it or not--the cars in this film are mostly terrible, which is maybe the biggest surprise in "Fast & Furious", after three films of at least very cool cars starring in the action.  I couldn't figure out why the cars in this film didn't fire me up; I have very distinct memories of the cars being whoop-ass in the first two films, and then in "Tokyo Drift", the cars are cool but the drifting is cooler.  And, driving around in the desert or down L.A. streets didn't really get me going this time around...even now, I struggle for the specific reasons why.

But, if you can get past these issues, "Fast & Furious" delivers in most key areas.  It is fairly well paced, it does have at least two completely unnecessary scenes where two or three women are fighting to make out with each other, there's a taste of gunplay, there are the random block parties where it's 78 at 2 AM and the loudest illegal street race in street race history is happening with 500 people, 400 of whom are Asian, 300 of whom are women, and 200 of whom have been rebuilt from the ass cheek line up.  Walker, Jordana Brewster and Michelle Rodriguez are collectively so bad that you almost wonder how they got these jobs in the first place; Diesel still has the charisma that makes you think what his career could have been had he signed on for "xXx: State of the Union" instead of making "The Pacifier."

The soundtrack also hits the mark and has an M.I.A. track that will make you smile as you walk out of the theater.  My favorite is probably still "2 Fast 2 Furious", but this is still a nice addition to the "F&F" canon.

Rating:  Matinee


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Bellview Rating System:

"Opening Weekend":  This is the highest rating a movie can receive.  Reserved for movies that exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development, setting...or Salma Hayek.  Not necessarily in that order. 

"$X.XX Show":  This price changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently, it is the $9.50 Show.  While not technically perfect, this is a movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.  "Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca", but you'll have a great time watching.  The $9.50 Show won't win any Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see "Office Space"). 

"Matinee":  An average movie that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.  Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about yourself.  A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave the theater saying "That wasn't too, did you see that Lakers game last night?" 

"Rental":  This rating indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one."  Mostly forgettable, you couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the video store was out of copies of "Ronin."  If you can, see this movie for free.  This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a half stars." 

"Hard Vice":  This rating is the bottom of the barrel.  A movie that only six other human beings have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen.  A Shannon Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a movie.  Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or "Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!  (Warning:  strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard Vice"-rated movies.)

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The "fine print":
All material by Justin Elliot Bell for SMR/Bellview/ except where noted
1999-2009 Justin Elliot Bell This site was last updated 04/07/09