Movie review: “Fast and Furious”

In Fast & Furious (2009), Vin Diesel returns in the role of Dominic Toretto, an automechanic/autofanatic and street racer, who is wanted by the law.

The movie starts with an explosive high-speed sequence, in which Dom, his enviably athletic girlfriend Letty (Michelle Rodriguez, who played Ana Lucia Cortez in the television series Lost) and a couple of assistants set out to hijack a fuel tanker racing down a mountain pass in the Dominican Republic (the official trailer shows part of this sequence).

It’s fast-paced action at its best (and, if you’re watching it on DVD, it’s definitely not a good idea to try to eat your supper at the same time!).

After cashing in the money from selling the hijacked fuel, Dom decides to lie low for a while, whereas Letty returns home to Los Angeles. Some time later, Dom receives a phone call from his very pretty sister Mia (Jordana Brewster), telling him that Letty has been murdered, having been shot after flipping her car. He immediately returns to LA, visits the scene of the so-called ‘car accident’, and discovers traces of a strange substance, nitromethane, on the tarmac. He starts to investigate, and is given the name of the person who apparently ordered this fuel, one David Park.

Dom easily tracks down Park, and, in typical wham-bam Vin Diesel fashion, ‘extracts’ from him the bit of information that he will only be able to find out who murdered Letty if he participates in a certain street race. (After all, there’s gotta be plenty of high-octane street racing action, as in the previous films of this series – “The Fast and the Furious” (2001), “2 Fast 2 Furious” (2003), and “The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift” (2006) (see Wikipedia).

In a parallel plot line, Brian O’Connor (Paul Walker), originally a police officer, an automechanic like Dominic, and an impassionate street racer, but now an FBI agent, is trying to locate a drug lord by the name of Arturo Braga; his search is hampered by the fact that they do not have any fingerprints for Braga, nor do they know what he looks like. Somehow (conveniently), he too tries to get in touch with David Park, and so arrives at Park’s flat at the moment when Dom is busy dangling him upside-down out of the window.

Predictably, both Dom and Brian end up participating in the same street race; the winners of the different heats are guaranteed a place on a four-car team that will bring a consignment of heroin across the border between Mexico and the USA. Both of them make it into the team. (Though why anyone would want to compete for this is rather beyond me.)

Most of the movie involves high-speed racing with enough plentiful explosions and shoot-outs to make your heart sing if you’re into this kind of action. Fortunately (for me – I like to catch my breath inbetween all the action), there are also a couple of slower scenes, showing Dom in a more mellow mood, his brooding looks signalling that he clearly misses his girlfriend Letty and underscoring his determination to bring her killer to justice.

It’s not the most plausible of plots, it will probably not stimulate much intellectual debate around the dinner table, nor does it showcase the most convincing of actors, but the action sequences (even though they all seemed to be green screen, which was disappointing) are certainly riveting.

2 thoughts on “Movie review: “Fast and Furious”

    • When you watch the ‘making of’ of action movies, you can often see which are ‘green screen’ or ‘blue screen’ sequences. These are shot in a studio, where you literally have a blue or green screen set up in the background. The action sequences – whether it’s fighting scenes or car chases – are acted out in the foreground. Once these have been filmed, then the right background of dramatic locations (sea cliffs, stormy oceans, outer space, whatever) will be put in digitally afterwards.

      The Wikipedia has an explanation here, where it is called ‘Chroma Key’, or this website also has a very nice and easy to follow explanation of how it works.

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