Plot Summary: O’Connor and Toretto have to unite against their common enemy (the Judean People’s Front?!) by infiltrating a heroin dealer’s operation. I would say it’s not as simple as that, but it really is.
Director: Justin Lin
Key Cast: Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Michelle Rodriguez, Jordana Brewster, Sung Kang, John Ortiz.
Five Point Summary:
1. Heyyy the old team’s back!
2. Black cars. Wherefore art the colourful stuff?
3. Some nifty action set pieces.
4. Some tosh about a drug dealer.
5. Bad CGI. I mean, REALLY bad.
Things were ramped up a notch in this 4th entry in the series, as O’Connor and Toretto have to team up to once again drive cars dangerously and take down a drug lord whilst doing so. Nothing original about that story, I’m sure you’ll agree. It’s about as cliche as the series gets, but I can ignore that just because the action is so impressive. The opening 10-15 minutes of the film are expertly done, as Toretto and his team assault a petrol tanker. We’re then re-introduced to O’Connor who now works for the FBI. He’s still clearly a bit of a rebel, but thankfully he’s done away with that ridiculous bleached blonde hairstyle. Unfortunately Jordana Brewster looks more liable to drift off in a breeze, and strangely looks a bit like she’s going to start her own witches coven (I imagined her cackling whilst throwing spare engine parts into a cauldron). That puzzled me for a little while, but then something else blew up and all was well.
Michelle Rodriguez showed promise in the opening scene, but her presence is soon curtailed and isn’t even given the opportunity to die onscreen. Sorry – SPOILERS. But then you could argue that the writers were planning a few films ahead with that one, who knows. I think that might be gifting the screenwriters more credit than they possibly deserve.
The key difference I noticed was the lack of pretty cars. The whole colour palette was much more muted, lots of blacks and darker colours, which was more apparent in the climactic chase sequence – a far cry from the gaudy racers we’ve previously been accustomed to. Even Vin Diesel spends most of his time in a black tank top. It’s as if the production team said “we need to make it darker”, so that’s what they did. Not just the script though – EVERYTHING. It even reaches the point where you’re looking at Vin Diesel wondering if he’s Toretto or Riddick. This also caused me much consternation for a few minutes.
If there’s one area the film fails, and quite spectacularly so, it’s the CGI. Cartoonish, video game-esque quality is the story of the day. It’s quite disappointing to an extent as the previous films got that bit right, on the whole, but here it feels at odds with this darker look and feel that they seem to have wanted to do. The final scene through the tunnels between Mexico and the USA are breathtaking and laugh-inducing in equal measure.
Essentially a reboot for the franchise, Fast and Furious is to me a sign of things to come. Okay, the CGI is really bad and as soon as they jump back into the tunnels at the end it feels a lot like the mine cart levels in Donkey Kong Country, but the action set pieces are fantastic and act as a bridge to Fast Five, both in the action stakes and literally in terms of the story. After the extreme focus on the cars in previous outings, for a general movie goer as myself this was a step in the right direction.
Favourite scene: Squashing Fenix with a car. Awesome.
Quote: “Stasiak, go get yourself cleaned up. You’re bleeding on my floor.”
Silly Moment: Vin Diesel leaps from one moving car to another, then narrowly avoids being burnt to a crisp by a fireball. As you do.