R086 Fast & Furious

(2009, Action, color)


Mike Nelson, Kevin Murphy and Bill Corbett

Go to hell, physics!

Rating: ***1/2

In a Nutshell:

Vin Diesel and some other guys drive really fast.


It should suprise no one to learn that the women on this poster get barely twelve minutes of screen time between them.Vin Diesel (whose character is probably named something else, as if that mattered in this kind of movie) and some other guys (also probable possessors of names) drive really fast in Mexico (I think), stealing gasoline tanks off the rear of a fuel truck. There’s jumping, swerving, crashing and exploding involved. Afterwards they party the night away with fistfuls of cash, gaggles of loose Mexican women and earsplitting Hispanic rap. For some reason, Vin sneaks out on his girlfriend in the middle of the night.

Some FBI agent guy chases another guy through an apartment building, eventually beating a name out of that guy. (Which guy? Who knows or even cares? Certainly not the movie.) The name in question is “David Park”, which I remember because about a dozen interchangeable FBI agents repeat it fifty million times despite its utter irrelevance to what passes for this movie’s plot. The other name I remember? “Braga”, because that’s the name of the mystery drug dealer everyone wants to catch. Vin wants Braga because one of his henchmen killed his girlfriend. (Did I forget to mention that? Sorry. The movie mentions it very briefly during a phone call with Vin’s Hot Sister right after the FBI Guy chase.) FBI Guy wants Braga because he’s FBI, which I guess is reason enough.

Vin's Hot Sister rides with Vin's Perpetual Scowl.How will they catch Braga? By beating up co-workers, dangling random guys out of windows and growling incomprehensibly. Oh, and street racing. And by drinking and watching hot girls make out with each other. And more street racing. And more growling incomprehensibly. And by questioning FBI Guy’s loyalties. And blowing up cars. And hiding drugs. And by questioning FBI Guy’s loyalties some more. And by growling incomprehensibly some more. And with a red herring decoy Braga. And by hunting the real Braga into Mexico despite FBI Guy’s lack of jurisdiction. And, finally, with more street racing.

Did I mention the tunnels? If not, I should have. Tunnels feature prominently, though I could not, for the life of me, tell you why.

Anyway, Vin gets caught and convicted of previous street racing-related crimes and is sent up the river for twenty-five to life. FBI Guy storms out of the sentencing, apparently outraged that Vin’s assistance in capturing Braga did not buy him clemency. (Personally, I don’t understand why FBI Guy isn’t wearing prison orange right next to Vin. Didn’t we just spend most of the movie watching him commit those crimes too?) FBI Guy casts off his FBI-ness to hook up with Vin’s Hot Sister and a pair of random Mexicans to take down Vin’s prison bus just as the end credits roll.


They're not so different, him and... um... other him.I base my knowledge of the plot almost entirely off the FBI dialog, as nearly every other member of the cast speaks either in a grumbling rasp or a heavy accent. They’re not as impenetrable as the accents in, say, Werewolf, but it’s still a barrier understanding the dialog.

Not that the dialog matters. When your best lines consist of “Lock and load!” “It’s already too late” and “We’re not so different, you and I,” it’s pretty obvious you’ve been cribbing from the iconic Big, Dumb Action Movies of the eighties. At its heart, Fast & Furious is a Sylvester Stallone popcorn flick, with Mr. Diesel swapped into the Stallone part (incomprehensible mumble intact either way), updated slang and a dumbed down script. That’s right; I said “dumbed down”. It’s one thing to have a “We’re not so different, you and I” speech in your movie. It’s another thing entirely to use the phrase “We’re not so different, you and I” as the entire speech.

As you might guess, this leaves the spotlight to fall squarely on the action. And, I’ll admit, the action can get exciting at times. It can also get tedious and incomprehensible. I’d say it’s about fifty-fifty.

One of the most common reactions I saw on the Rifftrax forum when they announced this was words to the effect of “Aw, bleep. Now I have to watch Fast & Furious.” That was more or less my reaction as well, but I buckled down and watched it anyway. A sample of the commentary: During a particularly confusing chase sequence, something vague happens and Bill cries, “Hooray! Or, alternatively: Oh no!” When FBI Guy jumps through a window, Mike shouts, “Extreme defenestration!” Kevin follows up one of the movie’s many, many scenes of half-Spanish conversations with “Vaya con queso, baby.” Overall, the writing is sharp, the riffing well-timed and the target ripe for mockery. The fact that they got me to watch a Fast and Furious movie isn’t extraordinary in and of itself; like a good little fan, I watch everything they do. The fact that they actually got me to enjoy a Fast and Furious movie is remarkable, though, considering the wretched stupidity of the series and my indifference to automobiles. Against all odds, I find myself recommending it.