Film Review: Fast & Furious 4

Fast and Furious, or 4 Fast 4 Furious if you’re keeping count, is a movie you can basically sum up in one sentence. Muscle guys, muscle cars, hot chicks, and incredible action sequences. Not much has changed in the four films other than who the muscle guys wind up being played by but nonetheless, if you’re going to the movies strictly to continually watch these things, then not only will this series run forever, but you should have no problem sitting through this fourth flick. Of course the other thing to look at here is the resurrection of Vin Diesel’s action star persona, and considering he’s been doing movies like “Babylon AD” and “The Pacifier” for the past couple years, you can basically say this is one of his better performances in a real long time.

The plot is pretty thin but I’m sure for fans of the first movie it will be nice to see the two leads back playing their roles. Diesel reprises wanted felon Dom Toretto, who after escaping at the end of the first movie seems to have started a new life in the Dominican Republic knocking over trucks. What brings him back to Los Angeles is revenge for the death of his girlfriend (Michelle Rodriguez) at the hands of brutal drug dealers led by Braga. This brings him face to face with the man who infiltrated his gang in the first flick, Brian O’Connor (Paul Walker), now an FBI agent going after the same drug dealers. And wouldn’t you know that driving plays a big part in Braga’s whole smuggling operation so both Brian and Dom team up, amidst some trust issues, to bring down the drug cartel.

Hopefully director Justin Lin (“Tokyo Drift”) gets the credit he deserves this time around. He’s fantastic with these action sequences, not only making them pulse-pounding thrill rides but also letting you feel like you’re in the car with these characters. The movie starts out brilliantly with a propane truck hi-jacking that turns life or death when things get out of control and the truck barrels down on the hi-jackers, and then just continues to go full throttle, staging a race on a crowded Los Angeles street and then chases in an underground tunnel shaft. Once these characters get in their cars you won’t be bored for a moment.

Outside the car is a different matter though. Both actors do what they can. Diesel is adrenaline personified. With his gravelly voice, bulging biceps, and cool, playful way around a line of dialogue, he’s a lot of fun to watch. And while still pretty wooden, I admit that Walker has a pretty-boy face and an athletic physicality that makes him a good hero. This pairing worked well in the first movie, sort of like an amateur, yet entertaining, version of the adrenaline-seeking- cop and criminal formula a la “Point Break.” Just after four movies it’s all gotten stale and it’s easy to see that the cars are the real stars here. The Dom-Brian conflict and Dom’s vendetta against the cartel is mostly overshadowed and there isn’t much for either character to do when away from their vehicles. Diesel and Walker try but they always seem to be a couple wheels short of competing with the four-wheel drive.

“Fast and Furious” deserves credit for doing the key things well. If your expecting much from anything other than the cars then it’s a disappointment, but thanks to Justin Lin this has all the makings of a really thrilling action movie, making this fourth flick in the series a little bit better than its predecessors and a lot of fun.

-Q8 MILK-

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