The Fast and the Furious

Directed By: Rob Cohen

Starring: Paul Walker, Vin Diesel, Michelle Rodriguez, Jordana Brewster, Matt Schulze, Thom Barry, and Johnny Strong

“Ask any racer, any real racer. It doesn't matter if you win by an inch or a mile; winning's winning.”

-Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel)

That's a quote I've taken to heart over the last twelve years.  Of course, I still always enjoy spanking an opponent, whether competing athletically, intellectually, or electronically.  In the end, however, all that really matters for the history books is whether you get the win.  That's a mindset with which I totally agree.  It's no accident that a testosterone-fueled, engine-filled film like The Fast and the Furious would wholeheartedly embrace this theme.

Out in California, an anonymous crew has put truckers on high alert after executing a number of lucrative, high speed heists.  LAPD officer Brian O'Conner (Paul Walker) has been tasked with going undercover and smoking out this crew.  Working as an employee at auto store The Racer's Edge under the alias of Brian Spilner, his investigation leads him to the world of street racing, particularly to a diner where a beautiful girl named Mia Toretto (Jordana Brewster) works.  Soon, he finds himself getting a ten-second car and trying to get to know Mia and her brother Dom (Vin Diesel).

In his first street race, Brian bets big and loses.  Dom, the eventual winner, has won Brian's hot new car.  Dom doesn't get to collect his spoils though because the cops show up at the scene looking to break up this street racing nonsense.  Despite the fact that there are plenty of cars on the streets, Dom is somehow left high and dry and is fleeing the scene by foot.  In an ironic twist of fate, Brian ends up saving him and getting him to safety.  As a sign of gratitude, Dom invites Brian into his home for a party and introduces him to his crew — his girlfriend Letty (Michelle Rodriguez), skilled mechanic Leon (Johnny Strong), and genius prodigy Jesse (Chad Lindberg).  Meanwhile, Brian pursues Mia against the wishes of Dom's longtime friend Vince (Matt Schulze).  With all these newfound friends, Brian seems to be forgetting that he's undercover and has an investigation to conduct.

A decent street racing film has spawned a globally successful action franchise that's raked in billions of dollars at the box office and has no end in sight.  I'm not making this stuff up.  It's hard to believe that The Fast and the Furious is not some long-forgotten film and that it's spawned a long-running series with six sequels including the upcoming Fast & Furious 6 and the untitled seventh film in the works.  Twelve years gives me the perfect lens of hindsight through which to view the first installment of this franchise.  It gives me the perspective to say that the film is just good, not great.

The Fast and the Furious is popcorn fare at its most basic.  You've got fast cars, beautiful women, and plenty of great one-liners.  It's not about an intricate plot or fine acting (neither of which you're going to get with this movie).  It's about the racing and all the visual and sensual delights that come along with it, whether warranted or not.  Given this, you should take Dom's profound way of living to heart.  Dom lives his life by the quarter mile.  For those ten seconds, he's a free man with no worries and no inhibitions.  If you come to The Fast and the Furious with this mindset, there's no doubt you'll come out satisfied from seeing the high octane racing movie that Rob Cohen and his cast deliver.

While the actors don't exactly give Oscar-worthy performances, they definitely are having fun on screen, and it's infectious.  Nobody embodies this more than Vin Diesel.  As Dominic Toretto, Vin Diesel gives us one smooth badass.  His character is certainly no model of self-control.  This dude is constantly talking trash and kicking ass.  For his part, Paul Walker looks to have fun playing a caricature of some dumb kid from the suburbs.  He plays a stereotypical wannabe tough guy quite well.  Michelle Rodriguez is also pretty hilarious as Letty too.  She brings quite a bit of sass to the big screen.  Standouts in the supporting cast include Matt Schulze for wearing a perpetual scowl as Vince and Chad Lindberg for making a real connection with the audience in his bit role as Jesse.

The Fast and the Furious isn't world-class entertainment, but it's definitely fun to watch.  It's the film that made racing cool again.  This movie certainly has its flaws, but they're nothing a beer or two can't cure.  The Fast and the Furious gets a 0.06% rating.  You can choose any beer you want, as long as it's a Corona because Dom said so.