New Bodywork, Old Parts
"Fast & Furious" is a great example of what is wrong with the movie system these days, it's a sequel but not a sequel because the storyline of the previous movies lead to it, but because thanks to the surprisingly good "The Fast & The Furious" the studios know there is an audience who will pay to watch because of that first movie. They basically know that by delivering fast cars, plenty of action and escapism as well as bringing back various characters from the first movie they will make money. Now in fairness some people don't mind this, they just want their fix of muscular men, pimped cars, sexy women and plenty of OTT action and "Fast & Furious" delivers. But for those who want something more will be left still wanting more when "Fast & Furious" comes to an end.
Dom Toretto (Vin Diesel - xXx) ends up having to return to L.A. when he receives some bad news from his sister Mia (Jordana Brewster) but as a wanted man has to lurk in the shadows. But Dom is there on business, he is a man looking for revenge and finds himself forced into working alongside Brian (Paul Walker - Eight Below), who has been recruited by the FBI, when they both go after the same man for different reasons. Despite still holding a grudge over Brian's betrayal Dom is forced to trust Brian as they must work together to get recruited as drivers for a Drug Lord in order to bring him down and get the man they are after.
One of the issues which "Fast & Furious" has is that it has a fantastic start, a start which semi mirrors the first movie as we watch Dom and Letty lead a small team of drivers who steal oil tankers in transit. It is seriously over the top but it is the sort of exciting action and escapism which you expect and with us seeing Dom and Letty together it fulfils one of the things which was lacking from the previous movie, the main characters. Unfortunately what follows this fantastic opening just doesn't live up to it and starts to become a little mundane.
It's mundane because at it's heart "Fast & Furious" becomes a simple Drug Lord story as we watch Brian and Dom tentively reunited as they both go after Braga, Brian is after him because he has been recruited to the FBI, Dom wants revenge on Braga and one of his henchmen. We do get a bit of story continuation where Dom is on the run from the authorities and he doesn't really trust Brian for the betrayal when he was an undercover cop. But strip this brief moment of tension and the basic storyline is the same sort of thing which you will see in numerous other action crime movies. Even the few twists and there are a couple of surprises fail to really ignite the drama.
It does mean that "Fast & Furious" does end up trying to be about the action, all the car action as we have cars racing through the streets, across deserts, through tunnels and so on. But whilst all this driving action is brilliantly choreographed it just doesn't live up to the opening action which is out of this world, quite literally. Even the element of watching pimped cars doesn't really liven things up either as it's a case of having seen it all before, you know sexy women in skimpy clothes draped over flash cars and their drivers.
In many ways the saving grace for "Fast & Furious" is the returning faces and characters such as Michelle Rodriguez as Letty and Jordana Brewster as Mia. It just feels right to have these characters together again especially when it comes to Vin Diesel as Toretto as in many ways it is his muscular frame and quiet outside masking his inner anger which makes things interesting. In fact whilst we also have Paul Walker back as Brian O'Connor it is Diesel who delivers the best action, the best lines and has the better part of the story.
What this all boils down to is that for those who are just looking for a fix of fast car action then "Fast & Furious" will probably surface especially the opening salvo which is stunning. But for those who want something more like an original and interesting story will be left with just the action to entertain which sadly it doesn't always achieve.