Directed by Rob Cohen. USA. 2001.

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As you might expect from a title like The Fast and the Furious this is not going to be a sensitive exposition of the human condition. It is set in Los Angeles where illegal street racers are hijacking trucks. Rookie cop (Paul Walker) is sent to infiltrate the gang. He does this by racing the gang’s leader (appropriately played by Vin Diesel) through the streets of LA. Walker loses the race but he is the one who saves Diesel from being caught by the police. 

Diesel is so taken in by Walker that he shows him his black racing car that was customised and treasured by his father. He explains that when he was a boy he saw his father die in a horrifying racing accident and that he has always been too scared to drive his Dad’s car - so we know very well that he will be pushed to drive the car by the last reel. Walker also becomes emotionally entwined with Diesel’s sister ‘the steamy’ Michelle Rodrigez.

Walker’s superior officers - based inexplicably based in  the “house built by Eddie Fisher for Elisabeth Taylor” - are worried that the terrorised truck drivers will take the law into their own hands and need to capture the hijackers before things get out of control.

The opening and closing scenes are certainly fast and furious, you even get a sequence where you view yourself race through the car’s engine and out the exhaust pipe! You can certainly understand why the gang hijacks trucks as their cars are expensive toys that are as well treated as a five-years-old’s Dinky toys. Even though there is some effort to give Diesel some depth of character and to include a few foxy women the middle of the film sags like an old mattress.

On a more philosophical note I was at an amusement arcade on the day I reviewed this video, where one of the arcade racing games gave you the opportunity to drive under a truck. This same manoeuvre is carried out in The Fast and the Furious and it would be easy to dismiss it as a combination of arcade game and MTV video. Yet, on reflection this is nothing to be surprised at since movies began their life as simple peep shows in amusement arcades.

Director Rob Cohen (criticised elsewhere on this site for Daylight) makes us remember other youth/racing movies like Rebel Without A Cause or American Graffiti, he even has his cars racing in front of a locomotive like something out of a Buster Keaton movie! Unfortunately, like most movies that have cars as the star they eclipse the humans, Cohen is unable to get anywhere near top gear.

This is an excellent high-octane action flick that burns more rubber than any petrol head dare expect. Suitable for viewing with a few beers and your brain in neutral.

The VHS video is released to rent in February 2002 and can be purchased in March 2002 for £15.99. The video includes over 40 minutes of extras including a look at the DJ behind the soundtrack (being strung-up and shot if you have any care for your auditory senses), a making-of feature, a special effects montage and three music videos: Ja Rule’s Furious; Saliva’s Click Click Boom and Cadillac Tah’s POV City Anthems

Nigel Watson

If you enjoyed this film see our review of the sequel: 2 Fast 2 Furious.
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Material Copyright © 2002 Nigel Watson