Our movie reviewer spent his weekend dutifully on his couch watching the first three Fast and Furious movies, then went to see Fast & Furious 4: Make It Stop, Please Think of the Children. It turns out that he has some thoughts.
Go find a piece of paper and a pen. No, go ahead right now. I’ll wait. Go over to the copier and pull out a blank sheet, or find some space next to the hardcore lyrics you’re writing, or flip over your blueprints for the slave trail museum and write on the back.
Now I want you to close your eyes and think about the title of the movie Fast & Furious. Do you have the title really solidly visualized in your mind? I know you don’t, because you’re reading this review right now. Okay, while picturing Vin Diesel and Paul Walker (or Michelle Rodriguez and Jordana Brewster, depending) write the first things that come to your mind on your paper. Just a few words, or maybe a sentence or two. Great.
Now if you wrote “awesome” or “bangin'” or “good movie,” then you’ll probably like Fast & Furious. If you wrote “stupid” or “waste of money” or “makes no sense,” then you can go ahead and sit this one out without thinking twice. Once in a while this job is the easiest in the universe. This is one of those times.
Moviegoers not already addicted to the franchise who are lured out to cineplexes by the spectacular box-office number put up last weekend by Fast & Furious ($72.5M, highest April weekend ever, possibly because only terrible movies come out in April) are bound to be disappointed. Even the genuinely well-crafted overture action sequence can’t rescue what, without three prequels and a big name on the cast list, would surely have disappeared without a trace into drinking-game land. But then again, there’s no question that plenty of people will (and obviously did) enjoy the heck out of it. People don’t chew bubble gum because they’re hungry, I guess.
Fast/Furious trivia buffs (Furiosos? Fasters? Furries?) will notice quickly that Fast & Furious (F&F) is really a semiquinquel: inserted into the FF universe between 2 Fast 2 Furious: Not Even Vin Diesel Signed On And Who Could Blame Him Given That Script (2F2F: NEVDSOAWCBHGTS) and The Fast And the Furious: Tokyo Drift (TFATF: TD), it provides (I hope you aren’t eating anything right now, because you may choke on it) backstory and character development. Some old puzzles which, honestly, kind of were already answered to my satisfaction, are revisited. Cute little references to the original and to Tokyo Drift are made, which are sure to please the Furioso crowd. Everyone pretty much agrees to pretend that 2F2F never happened.
Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel, who looks, as always, like he’s made out of mountains with tattoos on them) is pulling admittedly well-directed and fun-to-watch capers in South America with his crew, which (the crew) pretty much consists of everyone they could scrounge up from the first three movies who wasn’t a rapper. That is, until things go wrong, for reasons that aren’t explained all that clearly, but which cause everyone to say dramatic things for a scene or so. What with one thing or another, Dom ends up returning to Los Angeles for reasons which are explained quite well enough, thank you, but which (reasons) also push him on a path of revenge and destruction through the LA gang underworld. Which I think was kind of the plot of the first one.
Meanwhile, Brian O’Conner (Paul Walker, who doesn’t sound nearly as much like Keanu Reeves this time) is a cop again, and is hot on the trail of a Los Angeles gang lord. Some form of cop executive leadership has given Brian’s crime-stopping squad a time limit on catching the gang lord, so Brian has to try to go undercover ASAP as a driver for the aforementioned gang lord to blow the case open from the inside. Which, you may recall, is pretty much the plot of the second one.
As driven (ha!) as Brian is to catch the bad guy (when the bad guy is a drug lord, as opposed to your plain-old stick-up artist and convicted beats-up-other-people-guy like Dom who, in Brian’s book, is a warm and fuzzy good guy, because, and I swear to you I am not making this up, he “has a code,”) Dom’s revenge quest has another gear (oo!) entirely. Will the two hot-headed grease-noggins learn to work together to get what they both want?
Look, I don’t know if you’ve ever seen any action movie before, like ever, but don’t expect to be in a hell of a lot of suspense on that score. These are the sorts of thing you should be in suspense about: whether anyone has some especially badass-sounding one-liners when they kill anyone else, whether anyone takes their clothes off or some approximation thereof, and whether any action scenes were particularly mind-blowing. Unfortunately, the answers are: no; not that I recall although there’s one scene where some headlights are set to high beams for a distractingly long period of time and I do not mean like the lights that shine from the front of cars, I’m talking more in terms of nipples on boobs here; and yeah, but it happened at the beginning.
Which leaves us where we started. Did you want to see this movie before reading this review? By all means, get some popcorn and knock yourself out. Did you feel lukewarm or luke-cold or even repulsed by the whole sorry affair? Keep chilling, dawg, and just trust me: you’re not missing out.