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IN SHORT: More Incomprehensible than usual. [Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of violence and action, some sexual content, language and drug references. 102 minutes]
There are two audiences for Fast & Furious. First is the band of lucky souls who have adored the first three films of the series. Maybe they bought the vids and have watched over and over and over again. They know it backwards and forwards. Then there are the simpler folk who expect fast cars and beautiful women and an ever present outlaw aspect to the story. We write, as we've said for years and years, for those who know little. "You shouldn't have to know the Source Material to understand the movie" has been written hundreds of times over the past fifteen years of reviewing.
Fast & Furious doesn't take that tack. If you are unlucky enough not to have the first trilogy committed to heart, and don't have an eye for things like blatant visual continuity errors, it will take at least half the movie before you can figure out what is going on. Even then you'll barely have enough information to do anything more than hold on . . .
Oh wait. That presumes there's even more action to give you jollies. Nope. OK, how about more gorgeous women to keep you distracted? Well, sure, but most of the extra ladies seem to prefer their own kind; that kind of lesbian aside is appreciated but it's really minor. Fast and Furious is a murder-revenge piece. The direction is sloppy. The script is fragmented by flashbacks and visual metaphors that just aren't "right" for what we expect from these films.That may be our problem -- simply Fast and Furious fails to offer anything for a new viewer.
Vin Diesel returns to the lead as Dominic Toretto, con on the run, acting with all the grace of a sheet of plasterboard. Paul Walker as Brian O'Conner is an FBI agent tracking a heroin trafficker in LA. Mia Toretto (Jordana Brewster) is Dom's sister, and Brian's ex. She is the link between the bad an the good -- and "duh" to you if you haven't guessed that Brian once walked on the wild side. Get thee to a video store. Dom's lady love is called Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) and she shares his life. exiled in South America doing crimes and avoiding the time.
As Fast and Furious begins, Dom and his crew are hijacking a gasoline shipment in the Dominican Republic. Sure, he's got a good reason, but the film doesn't convey it. It is in the press notes and may be on the website but that's an after the fact fix. An action filled opening goes too long, has one in your face continuity error -- as long as you don't normally look for it you may miss it -- and ends, essentially, with Dom walking out on Letty because the cops are too hot on his trail.
He stays in South America. She returns to LA and is murdered. He comes back to revenge the killing, which is where the FBI is waiting -- at the funeral. Dom, smart guy that he is, just went back to his sister's house, where no one would ever think to look for him. All he's got to go on is a wee bit of gunshot residue (or something) that leads him to an drug runners Campos (John Ortiz) and Fenix (Laz Olonso). The pair and their uberboss are also being hunted by Brian O'Conner . . . you remember him, right?
That pair are just underlings. Their boss, the drug kingpin Braga is the FBI's ultimate target. Braga's got a cutie aide called Gisele (Gal Gadot) but we can't tell you much about her because the script is so terrible to say what her big role is would give away a story surprise. To tell you what her real role in scheme of things is, other than "aide" is quite beyond this script. Her big plot twist happens in the second Act so, technically, we could spoil it. But we won't. There are enough fans of the first three movies out there that we'd be in mortal danger. There's one more, much bigger plot twist that you'll figure out just as it happens. The only plus mark for the script.
We'd love to just mark Fast and Furious down on our charts as a action packed dateflick for a younger generation. True, we're New York based and don't have that car frenzy culture in our background. Well, short of building ReVell models back in our youth. This finale to the series is a mess for anyone but the most die hard of viewers. No pun intended. Seriously.
On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Ten Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price to Fast and Furious, he would have paid . . .
Again, first timers stay away. Fanboys take a date -- and even then we wouldn't rate the film higher than the lesser $4 wait and rent rating. That's how you learned the series. That's what you should do.
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