By Sean McBride
“Fast and Furious”
Directed by Justin Lin
Starring Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Jordana Brewster, Michelle Rodriguez and John Ortiz
2 1/2 Stars
Not that anybody was clamoring for another sequel, but “Fast and Furious,” the strangely-titled fourth installment in the street racing movie series, turns out to be a better-than-expected action flick. Yeah, I’m as surprised about it as you are, especially considering that the last two films in the franchise were little more than dumbed-down exercises in vehicular mayhem. Give the filmmakers credit for finding the right mix of exciting action sequences and a plausible crime drama story, especially since it manages to reunite the principal cast from the original film.
Indeed, the returning actors seem to make all the difference in the world. My apologies to Paul Walker and Jordana Brewster, but it’s really Vin Diesel’s involvement that restores the luster to “Fast and Furious.” Diesel plays Dom, who sped across the US border at the end of the first film. We catch up with him in the Dominican Republic, where he and his girlfriend (Michelle Rodriguez) have taken to highway piracy. It’s rather thrilling stuff. “Fast and Furious” opens with a high speed tanker truck heist that will have you on the edge of your seat.
Ultimately, the proper story takes place back in Los Angeles, where Dom teams up with his old adversary, FBI agent Brian O’Conner (Paul Walker). Old rivalries are set aside as the two men try to stop a dangerous drug kingpin. Don’t worry, the story is only there as a means to connect up all the action sequences; there will be plenty of opportunities for car chases and macho bravado as the unlikely duo investigate the drug smuggling operation.
There’s also a bit of romance, as O’Conner reconnects with Dom’s sister (Jordana Brewster), but the real love affair here is between young males and the souped-up street racers on display. This is basically auto-porn, where a man’s ride totally determines his self-worth. I had a hard time driving home in my puny Nissan Sentra after viewing this film, but personal auto-issues aside, “Fast and Furious” works as a mindless collection of racing sequences and cool cars, made all the better because of Diesel’s extremely likable bad-boy persona and a director who knows how to keep his foot on the gas, action-wise, without going so fast (and furious) that the film spins out of control.
Movie reviews by Sean, “The Movie Guy,” are published bi-weekly in “The Port Arthur News” and weekly on KFDM-TV. You can also follow Seanthemovie guy on Twitter. Sean welcomes your comments via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.