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FAST AND THE FURIOUS, THE

SYNOPSIS:
Street racing in LA. The gangs gather with their custom-souped speed machines to race for the adrenalin rush, respect and some genuinely hefty stakes. Itís fast, furious, illegal and sexually-charged. And Brian (Paul Walker) wants in. He loses his first race, but grabs an opportunity to win the respect of Dominic (Vin Diesel), king of the fast machine scene, and the affection of Dominicís sister, Mia (Jordana Brewster). What neither Dominic nor Mia realise is that Brian is an undercover cop. A spate of truck hijackings has been linked to the street racing scene. Dominicís arch rival Johnny Tran (Rick Yune) is a prime suspect in Brianís eyes, but Brianís superiors suspect that his feelings for Mia could be blinding him to the truth.

The title sounds like an afternoon soap . . .The Bold and The Beautiful, The Young and The Restless sort of thing. Teenagers in angst. Actually, itís not far off that, although itís much better than the analogy suggests and much less insular. The film has two trajectories; the street racing machines and their adherents being the main thread, but to give it dynamic action status, a serial heist subplot is inserted to generate enough heat to make the characters do certain things Ė other than just drive around very fast in colourful machines with sexy lines. There is enough machismo and gas filled car chasing to satisfy the most devoted carhead, but the pleasant surprise is the filmís engaging ability to deal with character and even subtext. Much of the substance comes from fine performances that breathe life into the otherwise one dimensional people who inhabit the movieís world, and both Paul Walker and Vin Diesel come up with terrific portraits of guys from opposite sides of the fence drawn into a bond. All the cast works superbly and good to see Michelle Rodriguez (Girl Fight) in such a strong role Ė and sheís not the only young woman of substance in the film. Thereís the fascinating Jordana Brewster (a Yale student now), an intelligent and powerful force on screen. Thatís the other appealing element Ė a series of relationships that (while formulaic) fill out very well. The soundtrack and the editing are standout examples of collaborative filmmaking where everything works in a seamless whole. Itís aimed at people much younger than this critic, but it gave me a good time, too.
Andrew L. Urban

Chill out to high octane and let your adrenalin rush! Delivering everything its title promises, The Fast and The Furious is a heart-pumping, thrilling explosion of action, music and sheer escapism. It's about gang rivalry, living on the edge and speed. I could actually smell the rubber of the tyres burning as they sizzle on the tarmac. The cars are objects of desire: they're sleek and fast. Just like a restless wild stallion that rears on its hind legs, they rear their front two wheels, dancing acrobatics and dazzle with their spoilers, intercoolers, megaflows and computer controlled fuel injection. The big surprise for me is that it is much more than a boys-own action flick. It's one that anyone of any age (or gender) looking for an uplifting trip can venture. The plot's enjoyable with compelling characters that deliver some good lines. 'You can't detail a car with its cover on' is one that caught my fancy, as Vin Diesel suggests an amorous couple retire upstairs. The stunts will take your breath away, but ultimately it's Paul Walker and Vin Diesel who breathe life into Brian and Dominic. Heartthrob Walker, with the big baby blues is convincing as the cop under cover: cool, but very hot. Diesel, with his pulsating biceps, is well cast; he is becoming a larger than life character with each role. Sultry Michelle Rodriguez (so powerful in Girl Fight) has heat to burn and it amused me to discover that Jordana Brewster had to get her driving licence in order to take on her role. What a way to start driving! Beyond the superficial, the themes deliver messages about loyalty, betrayal and freedom. Buckle up and get energised, The Fast and The Furious is high flying escapism with big thrills.
Louise Keller

Made for young males with high-level testosterone readings, The Fast and The Furious delivers on its promise of non-stop cheap thrills on four wheels. With no pretentions of being anything more than a nitrous-oxide fuelled wet dream for boys with autoerotic machismo fantasies, director Rob Cohen spends little time with the routine plot and wisely saves his energy for the cars. What plot there is resembles a western in which the youthful marshall is sent into a lawless town with orders to join the outlaw gang and bring its leader to justice. His genuine liking for the villain and his even greater liking for the villain's sister brings forward the prospect of ultimately losing the woman he loves and killing the man he has also grown to love. And I do mean love - there's a homoerotic undertone to all this monkey-wrenching and stick-shifting that's rather kinky if you want to look for it. What this has going for it is expertly choreographed motorised mayhem. Hotted-up cars zipping underneath semi-trailers and drag-racing around the streets of L.A. for 100 minutes to the deafening beat of heavy attitude hip-hop music may not be everyone's idea of a good time at the movies but if it is, you could do much worse - the lamentable remake of Gone In 60 Seconds, for example. The cars may be the stars but this also has a bright young cast including likeable hero Paul Walker, appealing love interest Jordana Brewster and Vin Diesel who has the physique and acting chops to be an action superstar if he handles his career properly. I had a brainless good time with this celebration of America's love affair with the automobile, even with the minimal plot and morally dubious ending that, like Swordfish, seems to suggest it's OK to commit criminal acts provided you have some half-baked philosophy at the ready to justify your actions. A side note worth remembering - motorcyles are referred to here as "crotch rockets".
Richard Kuipers

The Fast and The Furious may sound like the title of a daytime soap, but there is nothing bubbly about this high-octane actioner. With an earbleed soundtrack and dizzying camera work, this tale of fuel-injection fetishists and the glamour girls that are drawn to them is hard, fast and in your face Ė just like the racers it depicts. Itís also pretty good, a solid bet if youíre hankering for popcorn. Director Rob Cohen depicts the machines and the subculture that surrounds them with impressive attention to detail. What could easily have fallen into laughable parody is instead rather convincing. An above average screenplay and solid performances shore up the plausibility, so by the time the plot does hang a left turn for La-la-land youíre already strapped in for the ride. Walker has the right mix of blue-eyed innocence and clenched jaw for Brian, but itís an identikit pretty boy role many could have filled. Boxer-faced Diesel (not his real name, folks) is better value. Thereís a decent actor beneath all the sinew and his future as an action hero seems assured. But while the boys pump testosterone the girls are reduced to bit parts, a terrible waste when you have Girlfightís Michelle Rodriguez on board. They may get to drive but their main function is still adornment, the fluffy dice of the narrative rather than its engine. Yet the real stars, of course, are the cars, the Japanese-made ďrice rocketsĒ with their Nitrous Oxide afterburners. Cohen frames them confidently, even artfully. Itís hard to make races and chases look original but he manages it, slamming visual effects into videogame angles and seeing what survives the wreckage. Unlike the cars, the movie seldom drags and anyone who has ever hit the gas a little too hard at the lights should get a vicarious thrill. Stay until the credits have rolled and youíll get to enjoy BTís thumping techno soundtrack and be rewarded with an epilogue that ties up the loose ends.
Stuart Whitmore

The film opens with an explosion of engines and never lets up. Itís an orgy of fuel-injected, piston pumping, uncompromising stupidity, and pretty darn entertaining for it. It reveals a world where to earn respect, you have to watch you words and let your car do your talking. Or the torque do your walking. Boys will be boys; and girls stand around panting in lust and leather for the guy with the fastest finish. Funny, I always thought a fast finish disappointed a gal. None of the souped-up scorchers is exactly off the auto-showroom floor, but each of the characters is direct from an assembly line. Vin Diesel is terrific, giving a sympathetic edge to a character that doesnít deserve one, and Walker is well cast bringing dazzling blue eyes (with a little help I suspect from an excellent key light, contact lenses, or both) and a handsome, stoic countenance to a walking, driving undercover mannequin. When we arenít being dazzled by spectacular camera angles, the back-at-HQ cop dialogue is executed so amateurishly that itís unintentionally funny. So at least weíre never bored. The narrative goes nowhere, but those exotic autos keep on screaming at a million miles an hour. Iím the least petrol-headed person I know, but even I had to check myself from putting the pedal to the metal on the way home. So the overly excitable should take heed, this pacy entertainment might just be worth a ticket, but only from the box office, not the motor patrol.
Brad Green

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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 5
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 0

Andrew L. Urban and Louise Keller

talk to PAUL WALKER

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

CAST: Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Michelle Rodriguez, Jordana Brewster

PRODUCERS: Neal H. Moritz

DIRECTOR: Rob Cohen

SCRIPT: Ken Li (magazine article), Gary Scott Thompson (screen story and screenplay), Erik Bergquist, David Ayer (screenplay)

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Ericson Core

EDITOR: Peter Honess

MUSIC: BT, DMX, R. Kelly, Method Man, Redman (song) Brian Tyler (additional score)

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Waldemar Kalinowski

RUNNING TIME: 87 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: UIP

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: September 20, 2001

VIDEO DISTRIBUTOR: Universal

VIDEO RELEASE: February 27, 2002 (rental); June 12, 2002 (Sell-thru)







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