new release – ¦ ¦- FAST & FURIOUS – ¦ ¦- 5/10

If you had to pick two lead actors from the first three films in this series to return for a fourth instalment, you'd surely go for Tyrese Gibson from John Singleton's 2 Fast 2 Furious (2003) and Lucas Black from Justin Lin's The Fast and the Furious – Tokyo Drift (2006 – decidedly the best of a lukewarm bunch.) Instead, the confusingly-named Fast & Furious reteams Paul "charisma-bypass" Walker and Vin "poor man's Telly Savalas" Diesel from Rob Cohen's original The Fast and the Furious.
On the plus side, Michelle Rodriguez from the latter is also back – but much too briefly, as her character exits soon after the (genuinely pulse-quickening) prologue. So what we're left with is a pair of rather dull boys and their gleaming, high-octane toys – Walker a cop, Diesel a criminal, the pair of them uniting to take down a devious (and very sub-Miami-Vicestyle) South American drug-lord. The identity of the latter is shrouded in secrecy until the start of the final act, but the big reveal is a decided disappointment (bad-guy turns out as 'X' when should really have been 'Y') - as well as a wastefully missed opportunity.
   The same can be said for Fast & Furious as a whole, which is essentially a series of spectacular car-chases, -races and -smashes, strung together by Lin in pretty rudimentary fashion. The results have a certain thick-eared watchability, but at numerous junctures this seems less like a movie and more like an extended trailer for the inevitable tie-in video-game. There's ultimately very little here to detain audiences beyond the target demographic of excitable, easily-pleased teenage boys.
   And it would seem that there's no shortage of the latter all over North America right now: Fast & Furious wildly exceeded all box-office expectations on its opening weekend with a haul of $72m $71m. This ensures that a fifth episode in the "saga" is pretty much inevitable, which will presumably be entitled F&F – and which will be entirely missable unless the calls are placed to the aforementioned Messrs Gibson and Black.

Neil Young
7th April, 2009


director : Justin Lin
country : USA
year : 2009
run-time : 107m (BBFC)

seen : 7th April, 2009
cinema : Empire cinema, Newcastle (press show)
format : 35mm

MVP : Fred Raskin & Christian Wagner (editors)
respected second opinion : Nick Schager, Lessons of Darkness