Perhaps Universal Pictures heard the criticism about races first, story and character development dead last. Perhaps the vapidness and the shallow, unbiased commercialism of their The Fast and the Furious motion pictures finally got to them e.g. unnecessary rapper cameos, soundtrack queues (still present) and product promotion (still very present, NOS!) after The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift. We can only wonder what Universal Pictures’ executives told screenwriter Chris Morgan for this film. Riddled with cliques, Fast & Furious is far from perfect and is also by far the best in the series. Utilizing plot and character elements from the first three films, Fast & Furious drops their “after-thought” circumstances for a story arc with actual emotion and consequences. Though they are not as substantial as in a semi-notable drama, they are there none-the-less.
Fast & Furious bridges the gulf between the first film and the previous film in the series, giving background to some characters while informing the viewer what transpired for others. It is in this that Fast & Furious excels past the other entries in the franchise; however, it is because of the previous films that this film is even possible. Fast & Furious is your basic revenge/take down film but because the viewer has gotten to know certain characters in previous films, the audience already knows their pasts, personalities and their internal motivations. Because the origin plot lines are in the past, this film is able to focus what has brought many (but not all) of the original cast back together again.
Do not be fooled by my emphasis on plot thus far, Fast & Furious has all the accouterments that fans and detractors of the series have become accustomed to: scantily clad hot girls, close-up ass shots, same sex make-out sessions (actually new to series, somehow), spotless imports, partying around mod cars, a mash-up soundtrack, bare midriffs, car related action sequences, sex and automotive/sexual euphemisms. Fast & Furious borders, during some of its action and dialogue scenes, on the excellence of r-rated Point Break but never quite makes it. Whereas Point Break took itself seriously, Fast & Furious has a few deleterious, CGI moments that deviate from common sense, physics and reality. Fast & Furious was never meant to be high art but entertaining and in that it succeeds.
Dominic “Dom” Toretto (Vin Diesel) and Brian O’Conner (Paul Walker) are the characters most developed in Fast & Furious. Dominic’s current plight is relatable and instantly sympathetic. He is given a reason and motivation for his actions that anyone who has ever been in love or affectionate toward someone can understand. Dominic deals with his grief in the same way Bond should have in Quantum of Solace. When Dominic and Gisele Harabo (Gal Gadot) are alone together and Gisele’s intentions toward him are made crystal clear, Dominic speaks of another, to which Gisele replies: “That doesn’t anything like me.” Dominic retorts something to the effect of: “That’s because its not.”
One logic question that may vex the astute is why Special Agent O’Conner did not get Dominic’s pardon in writing? He certainly had the time to do so, the leverage and could have had its validity confirmed by an outside attorney. The viewer is not supposed to think about this while watching Fast & Furious, coupled with the fact that it leads to the film’s open ending that harbingers a fifth entry in the series.
Justin Lin’s Fast & Furious is the most grounded and entertaining film in The Fast and the Furious series. Unlike the previous films, Fast & Furious entertains on levels beyond the mere visual. The viewer may actually leave wanting more, which they will get in the future.