Directed by: Justin Lin
Premise: The fourth film in the Fast and the Furious series. After his girlfriend is murdered, outlaw Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) teams with undercover FBI agent Brian O’Conner (Paul Walker) to take down a heroin trafficker who is using experienced drivers to move narcotics across the U.S.-Mexico border.
What Works: Director Justin Lin is very good at filming chase scenes, as evidenced by his work on the previous film, Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift. The film taps into the joy of cars and speed, and the opening sequence is very well done and stands up with anything in the rest of the series. The return of original cast members Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Michelle Rodriguez, and Jordana Brewster helps and merging their story with the direction of Lin mostly works. Although the film has its requisite action, the story is set up as a detective plot that follows a more or less logical storyline.
What Doesn’t: After a fantastic opening, Fast & Furious never gets back up to the same level of energy. A lot of the film feels like a retread of earlier stunts and chases as well as the sexism. Vin Diesel is not used nearly as effectively as he could be. There is not enough of his dry humor or charisma and the film squanders opportunities to push his character into new places. The same is true of Walker and Brewster’s characters, who act out rewrites of scenes in earlier films.
Bottom Line: Fast & Furious may be the best film of the series, although that is faint praise since the first two entries were so stupid. Given where the story ends it is probably best to leave the franchise on this note.
Episode: #235 (April 12, 2009)