Fast & Furious (2009)
Directed by Justin Lin
The gang is back! Paul, Vin, Jordana, and Michelle are back for more high-speed hijinks in “Fast & Furious,” which brings the franchise back into mass-market focus with more action and more fun. But you’ll have to get through the atrocious script first.
Now, Brian O’Conner (Paul Walker) is an FBI agent in LA, trying to take down a notorious (and anonymous) heroin dealer. They don’t have a face, just a name: Campos. But the FBI is also after Dom Toretto (Vin Diesel), who, with his crew of criminals (including his girlfriend Letty, played by Michelle Rodriguez), has been robbing tanker trucks full of fuel in high-speed takedowns. But O’Conner convinces his bosses to let Toretto help him take down Campos and his crew. Unfortunately, even together these two will be outnumbered and out-raced as they try to get enough evidence to arrest their guy.
“Fast & Furious” has enough going for it—high-octane action, a somewhat unpredictable plot, and a return of the family ensemble we loved in “The Fast and the Furious” eight years prior. It’s more of an action movie, as opposed to its predecessors, which could be considered racing movies. But it also has an action movie script. It tries to be sentimental, leading to disgraceful moments of faux-emotional interactions. “Furious 7,” with the emotionally-charged context surrounding its release, manages to be truly sentimental. “Fast & Furious” does not. It doesn’t help that Toretto, despite Vin Diesel’s own vibrant personality, still has a hard time showing genuine emotion in a way that looks legitimate. And Paul Walker still, at that time, was not a good actor in the traditional sense of the word. Repeated outtakes showing his inability to read his lines helps to show that. Also, has anyone seen “Vehicle 19”? Ouch. But he’s still one of my favorite actors. He’s the “fast” to Diesel’s “furious,” and they’re any director’s dream buddy action movie duo.
After the franchise stepped off the expected path for “2 Fast 2 Furious” and “Tokyo Drift,” it course-corrected and went back to its roots for “Fast & Furious,” which even sounds identical to the original. It learned that the franchise is nothing without its core ensemble, and we were thankful for the lesson learned.