12 April 2017

Fast & Furious: Return to Form, for better or worse

But they got them back for Fast & Furious, which probably had the best tag line: “New Model, Original Parts.”  That was the only reason I got excited about this movie.  By excited, I mean excited enough to rent it.  I wasn’t going to go waste my hard earned $8 to watch another atrocity in theaters.  Fast & Furious opened in April of 2009, as a pre-Memorial Day release.  It opened strong, held on strong, and became the top earning movie of the franchise, and the second highest grossing movie involving car racing.

The movie opens with a semi-truck heist, reminiscent of the first film.  Instead of electronics in Los Angeles, this time they are stealing gasoline in Dominican Republic.  Han, from Tokyo Drift, is driving one truck, and a new guy named Tego is driving the other.  Dom (Diesel) and Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) are in a lead car.  After the hijacking goes south, the local law enforcement closes in on Dom and his crew.  They split up.  Han says that he hears that they are doing interesting things in Tokyo.  So, one could assume that is setting up for Tokyo Drift, but Han is returning in Fast Five which leaves me to wonder how they are going to tie in the third film.  That night, Dom leaves Letty for her own protection.  Despite her pleas against it, Dom slips away in the night.

Brian (Walker) is now an agent of the F.B.I.  He and his division are charged with finding and bringing down a heroin dealer, Braga.  Brian chases down a lead, literally.  The guy gives Brain the name David Park.  Now, Letty is murdered in cold blood.  Word gets to Dom via Mia (Brewster), and he returns to L.A. for the funeral.  He starts to investigate her death, and he is lead to a guy named David Park.  David Park tells the F.B.I. that Braga’s right hand man Campos (John Ortiz) is holding a race audition for the last spot in the next drug run.  Brian shows up to race, but so does Dom.  Brian shows up for his job. While Dom shows up to avenge Letty’s death.  Dom wins the race.  Brian sets up a different driver with a bogus drug possession to get in the race anyway.

So, they make their drug run through some bad CGI tunnels under the Mexico/U.S. border.  Once they reach the drop point, it is clear that the hired drivers are going to be executed by Campos’s lead driver, Fenix.  Dom and Brian escape execution with the $60 million in heroin just smuggled into the country.  The FBI sets up a sting to get Braga out in the open, but it goes south.  This leaves Brian no choice, but to once again defy authority.

In the finale, Dom and Brian go to Mexico to bring back Campos, who is also Braga, through the CGI tunnel.  The idea is to try and clear Dom’s name.  Dom gets his revenge on Fenix in a very anti-climactic battle.  U.S. authorities arrive on the scene, taking into custody Braga and Dom.  At a court hearing, Dom is denied clemency and sentenced to 25 to life.  We are left with him on a prison bus heading to jail.  But the bus is surrounded by three cars driven by Brian, Mia, and Tego.

Fast & Furious was the first movie to really delve into a deep plot.  I am not saying that this is by any means an Academy Award winning script, but it was a refreshing idea.  I enjoyed seeing the old cast, sans Vince, back together.  I did not like how they just killed Letty.  She was one of my favorite characters from the first film.  In the grand scheme of things, I enjoyed Justin Lin’s second attempt at this franchise.  Would I watch this one again on its own?  Maybe.  It is a decent use of 107 minutes.

Rating: 7.5/10

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