Review by Jack Foley
DVD FEATURES: Interactive eight camera angle stunt sequence for the final stunt; movie magic interactive special effects offering a unique look at the train and car footage shot independently and then merged to create the final sequence; visual effects montage featuring the first race; Racer X: the article that inspired the movie; The making of The Fast and the Furious; Feature commentary from director Rob Cohen; Exclusive featurette on editing for the Motion Picture Association of America; deleted scenes with optional director commentary; storyboards to final feature comparisons; music videos; theatrical trailer; DVD-Rom features. (scroll down for an overview of features).
THE MOVIE: TRY to imagine Point Break with fast cars replacing surfers and you get the idea of what to expect from this high octane crowd-pleaser which raced to the top of the US Box Office with scant regard for some of the more expensive special effects laden blockbusters of the summer.
Starring the little known Paul Walker and the charismatic and rapidly emerging Vin Diesel (of Pitch Black fame), The Fast and the Furious is, as its title suggests, little more than loud, flashy eye candy that delivers its thrills with all the subtlety of a sledgehammer.
It's a testosterone-fuelled joyride through the world of illegal street racing
and lorry-jacking that rarely gets out of first gear plot-wise; but still
manages to be hip, fun, and, above all, immensely enjoyable, from the word
Walker stars as undercover cop, Brian, whose meal ticket to a detective's badge lies in his ability to crack a racing crew that sidelines in hijacking lorries for DVDs and hi-fis.
But as he finds himself drawn into the adrenalin-charged trappings of the world he has infiltrated, his ability to do his job is hindered on many levels. Primarily, there is Diesel's speed-obsessed Dominic Toretto whose ability behind the wheel is as revered as his propensity for violence.
Then there's Mia (The Faculty's Jordana Brewster), Dominic's sister, who falls for Brian's single-minded charm and determination to overcome his outsider's tag. And finally there's the races themselves - danger-ridden thrill rides through the mean streets and deserts of LA, which provide the ultimate test of nerve and courage.
Brian soon finds himself seduced, as well as drawn to Dominic and Mia, while
all the time battling to keep his arrest-hungry superiors at bay.
Sound familiar? Hell, yes, but this isn't really about winning awards or garnering critical acclaim for that matter. To coin a phrase from the far superior Point Break, it's ``young, dumb and full of cum''.
What Rob Cohen's movie lacks in originality, it more than makes up for in energy, even in spite of its dreadful script. Cohen directs the set pieces with gusto and cranks up the volume at every opportunity, making this an at times deafening trip through LA's darkest suburbs. Cars crash spectacularly, they race dangerously, and the resulting stunts have to be seen to be believed in some cases.
And holding it all together is Diesel's roguish anti-hero, an unpredictable loner who ``lives his life a quarter of a mile at a time'' and who may or may not be the brains behind the hijacking operation.
Building on strong performances in the aforementioned Pitch Black (a Virtualbloke
favourite) and Saving Private Ryan, Diesel exudes an energy and a charisma
reserved for the best types of actors (he is rumoured to be taking on the
role of Black's Riddick again).
Walker, on the other hand, occasionally seems to be struggling with the action man lead, but gives it his best nonetheless, complete with a frequently uncanny Keanu Reeves sounding voice. But to be fair, he is merely playing to formula.
Cohen could also be criticised for only scratching the surface of the world
he is depicting, seldom exploring the real dangers and excesses that lie within,
while the movie's `glorification' of street racing has certainly been knocked
by those anticipating any copycat racers.
But taken at face value, and for sheer fun alone, this is a slick vehicle that looks destined to become a cult classic. Buckle up and enjoy the ride.
THE FEATURES: Like the movie itself, the DVD special features are immense fun, ranging from the informative (making of documentary, etc) to the quirky (visual effects montages) and the downright pleasurable - the multi-angle crash should excit the most hardcore adrenalin junkies. Of the eight deleted scenes, only two would really have added something to the cinema release (although one had to be cut for the censor). Cohen's commentary is also informative and occasionally funny and he does even confirm that the movie is deliberately similar to Point Break. This may not be as great as some of the DVD extra packages currently on the market, but it is a lot better than most. Fans of the movie will no doubt take something from it.