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FAST AND FURIOUS (2009)

SYNOPSIS:
When a crime brings them back to L.A., fugitive ex-con Dom Toretto (Vin Diesel) reignites his feud with FBI agent Brian O'Conner (Paul Walker). But as they are forced to confront a shared enemy in the shape of a Mexican drug boss, Dom and Brian must give in to an uncertain new trust if they hope to outmaneuver him. And from convoy heists to precision tunnel crawls across and under the Mexican desert, these two find the best way to get revenge: push the limits of what's possible behind the wheel.

Review by Louise Keller:
In this fourth film of the franchise that celebrates fast cars, babes and macho bonding, the filmmakers are reuniting its two charismatic stars as bait to entice its audience for yet one more adrenalin rush behind the wheel. Trouble is, the script doesn't quite have the fire power to make this actioner's hot wheels sizzle convincingly. Sure, it's good to see Vin Diesel, the gravel-voiced tough-guy with the soft heart paired once again with heart-throb Paul Walker, who always exudes decency and sex-appeal onscreen. But the set up forces the gear shift one notch too far, making the storyline too contrived and the relationships less than satisfactory. However, there's plenty of action, long-legged babes and wild stunts in which cars speed underground, above ground and in the air, spinning, turning, inverting and crashing in spectacular fashion. My main beef with most of the action scenes is the choppy editing, which severely compromise their impact as we are prised out of the situation.

The first film (in 2001) was about gang rivalry, speed and living on the edge; the second (in 2003) relied on speed, attitude and Paul Walker's appeal; the third (in 2006) was missing its two stars and a whole lot else besides. Director Justin Lin, who directed the third film is back at the helm and his forte is the action scenes. Like the thrilling opening sequence in which Diesel's Dominic Toretto leads a daring robbery on wheels, in which the 'gold' they are stealing is gasoline being transported on a perilous road in the Dominican Republic. After establishing what kind of risks Dominic is prepared to take, we meet Walker's Brian O'Conner as he shows his non compromising spirit leaping over LA rooftops, chasing a crim on the run. Diesel gets the best lines again (chatting up a leggy beauty he would like to be 20% angel, 80% devil and who doesn't mind getting engine grease under her fingernails). And he appreciates a good body, "regardless of the make," while Walker walks the tightrope of decency as he debates whether he is a good guy pretending to be bad or a bad guy pretending to be good.

Also reprising their roles from the first film are sultry Michelle Rodriguez as Dominic's girlfriend Letty (with too little screen time) and Jordana Brewster as his sister Mia, whose earlier romance with Brian is revisited. In the final analysis, this is a buddy movie on flashy wheels and one which gets to the finish line in one piece, even if the finish does not polish up as brilliantly as we might like.

Review by Andrew L. Urban:
Instant immersion is the style of this franchise, plunging audiences into high octane race and chase mode from frame 1. And it works; the target audience will sit with flared nostrils and white knuckles as the pedal hits the metal and the engines roar in mad unison. Vin Diesel and Paul Walker are suitable opposites in every way, from body and body language to style and substance, to make their partnership one of those cinematic pairings that growl with energy.

They are surrounded with a well chosen team of supports, from the vanilla boys at the FBI to the chocolate skinned babes prancing semi nude around the big black and brown dudes who prowl the perimeter of society, either as street racers or drug runners or both. Plenty of eye candy for the male audience; deciding whether to keep an eye on the mean machines or the sexy babes is a dilemma to savour.

The chase and race scenes are shot with attention to the physical context so we get some idea of the big picture, not just the fuzzy close ups many lazy filmmakers rely on. To his credit, director Justin Lin also keeps focus on the central story and the dramatic subplot involving the central characters. And they are indeed characters, accessible, flawed and tested, surviving with great difficulty - like most of us. We just don't all drive as fast.

Some fans may pick the twist ahead of its revelation, but that won't make for any disappointment because the story has been well put together. It's a film that delivers its payload of stunts and thrilling action without any self consciousness, and with a welcome sense of pride. It does what it does very well.



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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 1
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 1

FAST AND FURIOUS (2009) (M)
(US, 2009)

CAST: Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Jordana Brewster, Michelle Rodriguez, John Ortiz, Laz Alonso, Gal Gadot, Jack Conley, Shea Whigham, Liza Lapira, Sung Kang, Don Omar

PRODUCER: Vin Diesel, Michael Fottrell, Neal H. Moritz

DIRECTOR: Justin Lin

SCRIPT: Chris Morgan

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Amir Mokri

EDITOR: Fred Raskin, Christian Wagner

MUSIC: Brian Tyler

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Ida Random

RUNNING TIME: 107 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Universal

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: April 16, 2009







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