The other night I was talking to a guy who lived the street
racing lifestyle. Hes seventeen, still in high school and works a full time job just
so he can upgrade engine parts and lower the chassis of his little Japanese import. This
kid lived the movie. He couldnt keep the enthusiasm out of his voice as he talked
about smoking BMWs with his Toyota Corolla. Everything seemed to revolve around cars and
speed. A litany of carspeak slid off his tongue like bald tires on a wet highway. This guy
didnt care about drugs, and sex was not the all-consuming obsession it is in most
kids his age. His fix, the thing that made life worth living, was how quickly he could go
from zero to sixty.
It would be easy to dismiss The Fast and the Furious as a pretty
basic remake of Point Break (right down to Paul Walkers best attempt at the Keanu walk),
but it does offer a glimpse into a subculture that thrives just beneath the veneer of
middle class America. The movies success is a testament to Americas obsession
with cars and speed. Its a culture that I honestly dont understand. I have
never really cared about cars. Valves, cams, and horsepower mean absolutely nothing to me,
so when I saw the preview for The Fast and the Furious, I thought that it had
"bomb" written all over it. When it rocketed to first place and ended up making
an obscene amount of money I had to rethink just how many people in this country obsess
about their cars.
Paul Walker plays an undercover cop who is trying to break a ring of high speed truck
jackers. Alliances are made, loyalties are questioned and lots of cool cars travel from
left to right and right to left across the screen. And we cant forget the doomed
love story needed to add emotional weight to the events on the screen. Vin Diesel plays
the mentor/antagonist role of the film. The guy has real presence; its just too bad
that he hasnt found a film to take advantage of that presence yet.
The movie itself is pretty review proof. Theres nothing I can really say about
how well it executes its premise. I think that there could have been a lot of things done
better in this movie. Rob Cohn has not really shown that he has any flare for directing. I
always come away from his films thinking how I would have tweaked little things to make
the film work just a little better. The Fast and the Furious could have had more laughs;
some of the action sequences could have been more tightly executed; and the script could
have been less blatant in its approach to that classic suffer/heist movie of the early
nineties. But the thing is it didnt need to be better. It obviously gave audiences
what they were looking for.
The disc includes a DTS and Dolby Digital soundtrack, a bevy of music videos that have
been bleeped out so the DVD could retain its PG-13 rating, numerous documentaries, and a
directors commentary. My favorite extra was the inclusion of the original magazine
article that inspired the film. Pretty much anything you could want to know about this
movie can be found on this disc. As is the case with special edition DVDs of mediocre
movies, the extras try to make a case for the films merits.
People who are going to like this film will like it no matter what I say, and people
who cant be bothered with cars probably wont even take a second look at it. I
wasnt incredibly disappointed in the film because I didnt expect that much.
Even my car friend didnt get too worked up over the movie. He liked it just fine,
but he was a little annoyed by the bad rap it gave people like he and his friends. The
cars are sufficiently fast and the soundtrack sufficiently loud for a pleasant Saturday
night diversion. Im starting to learn that we really cant ask much more than
that from Hollywood.