Saturday, May 2, 2009

Day Ninety-Six: Fast & Furious (2009) - Rank 3/5

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I always enjoy watching people scrutinize my home video collection when they come to my house for the first time. Inevitably, those individuals will point out some atypical entries that don't seem to suit my movie tastes. Titles that I own on DVD that have baffled others in the past are: "The Little Mermaid," "Jackass: The Movie," "The Ten Commandments," and "Toys." I can usually give a rational explanation for my liking a film enough to purchase it (I honestly cannot for "Toys"). So, when I receive the following question: "Why do you own the Fast and the Furious movies?" I reply: "They're stupid fun. Plus, they have some damn good chases in them." Yes, I'll admit it: I'm a closet racing movie fan. Damn my father and his exposing me to NASCAR. I still refute its standing as a legitimate sport. It's cars going in circles, for Christ's sake!

At least with the aforementioned franchise, I enjoy indulging in them because they feel like a throwback to the car race, grindhouse fodder of the seventies, like the original "Gone in Sixty Seconds," "Stunts," "Dixie Dynamite," "Race with the Devil," "Death Race 2000"...the list goes on. The films never carry a pretense of involving an elaborate plot. The storyline is merely a loose excuse for threading a lot of races and chases together (though the first film had an acceptably engaging storyline). And I highly respect the fact that the films (save the abominable second entry) all use real cars and practical effects. So, the guilty pleasure-seeking, lowbrow domain of my cinema-loving side grew quite excited at the promise of a fourth entry to the saga.

The film has all the right cast and crew: testosterone-fueled Vin Diesel, "ACTING" Paul Walker, eye candy Michelle Rodriguez and returning director Justin Lin. Regrettably, the film gets a little greedy. It tries to formulate an elaborate plot about Diesel's Dominic and Walker's Brian both in a "race" to get to the killer of Letty (Rodriguez) first. As a result, the film becomes just as much a revenge film as it is a vehicle flick, if not more so. Don't give me something to think about. Gimme car wrecks, shootin' and boobs. If you're looking for a erudite piece of cinema wrought with symbolism and subtlety, you can do far, far better. But if you're looking to turn your brain off for two hours, you could certainly do worse.

Watch the Trailer

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