Point Break with flashy car races - that's all The Fast And The Furious is, but that's all it needs to be. It's a lot of brainless fun with a lot of very good looking cars on screen for most of its duration. There's also a lot of turn of the century CGI working to make the speedy sequences seem speedier and the car engine parts sometimes visible when drivers push the button for an essential NOS boost.
Paul Walker plays Brian, an undercover cop trying to get into the street racing circuit to find out just who is responsible for a number of daring heists on moving trucks (trucks that are moving, not trucks being used by removal companies). The prime suspect is Dominic Toretto, played by Vin Diesel, who is the centre of the street racing scene and the man that most of the main players look up to. But Brian gets close, too close. He likes Dom's sister, Mia (Jordana Brewster), and gets to like Dom as he gets closer to cracking the case.
Rob Cohen directs with aptitude and certainly knows that, whenever possible, the car is the star here. The script, written by Gary Scott Thompson, Erik Bergquist, and David Ayer, is full of nonsense that builds into a creed these racers live by, but it gets the plot from A to B to Z, and has occasional moments of wit in there.
The cast all do what they have to. Paul Walker is likeable enough in the main role, Vin Diesel is a big man who growls a lot, Jordana Brewster looks pretty, Michelle Rodriguez does that scowl-gurn thing as the tough woman once again. There's also Rick Yune, Chad Lindberg, the great Ted Levine, Ja Rule, Noel Gugliemi (you may not recognise the name, but you'll know his face) and Matt Schulze (playing a douchebag who also happens to be the one person that is right about the character played by Walker).
Unsurprisingly, the soundtrack features a mix of loud rock and dance/hip-hop tunes with a strong bassline. It's what you'd expect for a movie about cars with stereo systems that cost more than most people's first runaround. What is surprising is how bad some of the processed shots are with some of the driving scenes akin to something from the 1950s. But, of course, you're not supposed to be looking out of the windows, you're supposed to be looking at the attractive stars and their attractive cars.
It's good fun, there are some enjoyable race sequences and good stuntwork on display, and, as I'm not a "gearhead", I'd say you can add an extra point if you're REALLY into cars. The best is yet to come though, and this should be viewed as the starting point for a franchise that would go from strength to strength (even the weaker instalments don't stop it from easily being the best movie series built around Vin Diesel).
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