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PCR #471 (Vol. 10, No. 14). This edition is for the week of March 30--April 5, 2009.

This Week's PCR
Movie Review
"Fast And Furious"

Movie review by:
Michael A. Smith

Movies are rated 0 to 4 stars

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Starring: Vin Diesel, Paul Walker and Michelle Rodriguez
Directed by: Justin Lin
Rated: PG 13
Running Time: 1 hour 47 mins

“Only the last sequel loses money.” So said Carl Gottlieb, co-writer of “Jaws,” “Jaws 2” and “Jaws 3-D.” Smartly, Carl walked away from “Jaws the Revenge,” which was, in fact, the last sequel. That lost money.

In 2001 audiences, this critic included, enjoyed a little film called “The Fast and The Furious.” So much so that it was followed by “2 Fast 2 Furious” and “The Fast and The Furious: Tokyo Drift,” which had as much to do with the first film as Tyler Perry has to do with entertainment. All three films had one thing in common: CARS. The faster, the better. Or the furious-er, if that’s a word. After sitting out part two and appearing in the last three minutes of “Tokyo Drift,” Vin Diesel returns to the series and is its greatest asset. The film begins with Dom Toretto (Diesel) and his lady, Letty (Rodriguez), helping pull a high octane gasoline theft from a series of tanker trucks heading down a steep incline in the Dominican Republic. Unsatisfied with the job, and one step from the authorities who are looking to capture him, Dom and Letty split up, planning to reunite later. But bad news strikes as Dom is informed that Letty has been murdered back home.

Former cop Brian O’Conner (Walker) is now a proud member of the FBI. So proud that he appears to be the only agent in the bureau who isn’t required to shave. When he learns of Letty’s death he rightly assumes that Dom will show up to find out what happened. Brian is currently investigating major drug traffic in Los Angeles, where millions of dollars in heroin is showing up. Both Dom and Brian are “recruited” to drive for the dealer, a decision that will impact both of their lives, and the lives of the ones they love.

Not too much has changed in the “F&F” formula, which unfortunately leaves a film with predictable plot holes and not enough action. Director Lin, who also did “Tokyo Drift,” seems to have forgotten what makes these films successful: SPEED! With the exception of the opening gas tanker scene and a multi-car race through the city, the film plods along slowly. Diesel is his usual strong and silent type here, but the portrayal fits the character. No matter what the material, Diesel has a way of holding your attention on screen. When he’s given better material, like “Boiler Room” or “Saving Private Ryan,” he makes you take notice. Walker is serviceable here, but, like Diesel, doesn’t have a lot to do to propel the film forward. Only John Ortiz, as the drug runner’s intermediary, brings any life to the scenes he’s in. I will give kudos to Michelle Rodriquez’ agent. Not since Bo Hopkins in “The Wild Bunch” have I seen an actor get “above the title” credit for such little screen time.

A film that is neither too fast or furious (more like slow and cranky), on a scale of zero to four stars I give “Fast and Furious”

This week's movie review of "Fast And Furious" is ©2009 by Michael A. Smith.  All graphics this page are creations of Nolan B. Canova, ©2009, all rights reserved. All contents of "Nolan's Pop Culture Review" are ©2009 by Nolan B. Canova.