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Marlowe At The Movies: FAST & FURIOUS (Universal)

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Old 04-19-2009, 01:57 PM   #1  
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Default Marlowe At The Movies: FAST & FURIOUS (Universal)

Caught this finally last night -- as a big fan of Rob Cohen's original, this fourth entry in the franchise reminded me a lot of Live Free or Die Hard in the way that all the characters have seemingly matured a bit since the 2001 original (as I felt Willis' McClaine character matured in Live Free as well). Yet, as much as they "matured" they still slip back into their "roots" like a glove...before I get into that, let me give some details about the film.

While I didn't like the fact that Universal didn't have Cohen come back to direct this one (actually, there have been rumors that he may have been asked but refused or was working on something else since Tomb of the Dragon Emperor), the best thing to happen to this franchise was to reunite most of the original cast, which made the first film just so enjoyable. Sure, it was cheesy...but there was something about the way the original cast was brought together that made that film "good cheese." With an Asian director at the helm this time, the franchise moves beyond the "flash in the pan" "drifting" phenomenon from the last film in the series and concentrates on reuniting Paul Walker and Vin Diesel; yet, the way they "meet" again and come together could have been a little more dramatic and concentrated, I felt. Also, while the trailers would have you believe the entire cast from the first film is back in this one, that's not 100 percent accurate...indeed, Walker and Diesel return, but missing are the "Vince" and "Leon" characters from the original, and of course "Jesse" who was killed in that first film by Johnny Tran. It would have been nice if the entire cast returned as a team again, but many fans assume "Vince" died because of complications from his encounter on the semi truck at the end of the first film.

Still, the decision to bring the main players of the first picture back was a very smart one -- it is indeed Walker and Diesel that made that film, no doubt; especially Diesel. Sure, Walker reappeared in 2 Fast 2 Furious but John Singleton really screwed that one up -- it was awful. This happens with franchises all the time, and sometimes it just takes some brainstorming to get a series back on track. While not perfect (and I'm wondering what kind of market is actually left for these films) this new one gets it at least a bit back on track.

Walker's Brian O'Connor character has finally gotten his job with the FBI -- I'm assuming the events of the second film have been made a memory -- and with it, his character has matured...gone is the medium length curly blonde hair of a Los Angeles surfer; now, Walker sports a short haircut and has shaved some pounds off to be able to chase down perps through the streets of L.A. The film opens, meanwhile, with an eye-popping heist sequence (much like the end of the first film) involving Diesel and Michelle Rodriguez ("Letty") in the Dominican Republic, as they dodge and weave between petroleum fuel trucks. The scene is nail-biting and every bit as involving as, say, the opening car chase and shootout from Quantum of Solace, and that's an important aspect to mention here: This Fast and Furious has an almost "international action film" type of feel like Quantum or Taken, and it was refreshing to see the franchise go in this direction after the neon-lit cartoon and joke that was 2 Fast 2 Furious. The action in this one goes all over the Spanish-speaking world before culminating in a Mexico border sequence.

The plot of this one, though, relied too heavily on the ridiculous plot from the second film; once again, we have a bunch of professional race drivers attempting to get into the good graces of a Mexican kingpin -- this guy is the one FBI are looking for, and so is Vin Diesel because of what his organization did to Rodriguez (I'm not going to give that one away). While Diesel (who's hot sister played by Ms. Brewster returns once again) attempts to infiltrate this guy's organization through street racing (does this sound like the second film?), Walker and the FBI do the same, which only means the two of them will meet in a street confrontation once again.

And that brings us to the appeal of the franchise in the first place: The street racing, of course. While this plays more like a hardcore action film, as I said, there still has to be a race sequence or it just wouldn't be a Fast and the Furious; let me tell you something, fellas: If you thought the girls were nearly naked and smokin' in the first film, wait until you lay your eyes on the ladies in this one who surround the street races and party at the local club...the hottest chicks with the flattest stomachs and hugest breasts are fondling each other, making out with one another and grinding to the beats of the underground Spanish nightlife in this one -- the scenes are heart attack inducing. The race sequence on the other hand didn't have the visceral impact that the one in the first film still has -- and again, some is borrowed from Singleton's sequel in that the race has all the contestants going through traffic-congested streets (in the second film, the racers went through streets but not with other drivers) instead of a cleared quarter mile path, causing accidents and just encouraging wild driving from people watching the film. I can recall when I saw the first film in theaters, and when I left, I witnessed wild, reckless driving from the people who left with us...the film caused horrible accidents all over the country, and there was a fatality involving a Corvette and Ferrari the weekend of the film's opening where I lived. This new one may do the same.

And so Walker trades in his suit and tie and goes undercover once again as a professional street racer, getting behind the wheel of a Nissan Skyline once more, as Diesel races in American muscle this time. His 800-horsepower monster from the first film that he flipped at the end returns too, apparently restored by Rodriguez in a plot substory; Mia, Dom's sister, while sexy, has definitely grown older but there's still bad blood between her and Walker. They rekindle a bit of their passion, but it's not the point here; they are both trying to get to this Mexican overlord for their own reasons.

I also have a problem with the film's title; couldn't they come up with something better? Fast and Furious isn't the first film, by any means -- but it definitely trumps the two sequel attempts in this franchise. It may be a buy on Blu when it comes out, and the soundtrack should rock.

Thank you for reading!
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Old 04-20-2009, 04:56 PM   #2  
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Thanks for the great review Peter. I'm glad to see they have got the series back on track after the tokyo drift debacle!
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Old 04-20-2009, 05:08 PM   #3  
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Nice review.

I too was confused with their choice of title.
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Old 04-20-2009, 08:53 PM   #4  
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Thanks for the great review Peter. I'm glad to see they have got the series back on track after the tokyo drift debacle!
You got it, Sig! Thanks for reading...yeah, this series was in some need of assistance after Tokyo Drift...

Have you seen this yet? What didn't you like about Tokyo Drift?
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Old 04-20-2009, 10:21 PM   #5  
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Nice review.

I too was confused with their choice of title.
Thanks, Sobay; did you catch this one yet in theaters or are you gonna wait for a rental?
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Old 04-20-2009, 10:56 PM   #6  
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Thanks, Sobay; did you catch this one yet in theaters or are you gonna wait for a rental?
I saw it in the theaters. I was pretty much pumped through the whole thing!
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Old 04-21-2009, 04:27 PM   #7  
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Kewel..
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Old 04-22-2009, 11:34 AM   #8  
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You got it, Sig! Thanks for reading...yeah, this series was in some need of assistance after Tokyo Drift...

Have you seen this yet? What didn't you like about Tokyo Drift?
No, i haven't seen this yet. I don't normally go to the cinema anymore, i just wait untill the title hits DVD/BD. I did not enjoy Tokyo Drift because it didn't feel like a Fast and Furious movie to me. It was allmost like they tagged the name on at the end to boost interest. I didn't really go for the whole drifting thing and the fact that none of the original cast were in it (apart from Vin Diesel for 30 seconds at the end!) didn't help either!
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Old 04-22-2009, 06:04 PM   #9  
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No, i haven't seen this yet. I don't normally go to the cinema anymore, i just wait untill the title hits DVD/BD. I did not enjoy Tokyo Drift because it didn't feel like a Fast and Furious movie to me. It was allmost like they tagged the name on at the end to boost interest. I didn't really go for the whole drifting thing and the fact that none of the original cast were in it (apart from Vin Diesel for 30 seconds at the end!) didn't help either!
Indeed.

Hope my review will rev you up to see it; it wasn't as good as the first film (nothing is in this franchise) but definitely bests the other two. Are you planning on seeing it?
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Old 04-23-2009, 12:24 PM   #10  
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Indeed.

Hope my review will rev you up to see it; it wasn't as good as the first film (nothing is in this franchise) but definitely bests the other two. Are you planning on seeing it?
I may get the chance to see it this weekend. It's not that i don't like the cinema or anything, i think some films are amazing on the big screen. It's just that we spend so much money on our home cinema systems that i feel like i am wasting money when i go to the flicks! It's weird i know but thats the mentality i have had for the last couple of years!!
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Old 04-24-2009, 12:47 AM   #11  
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Well, please let us know if you see it...

I know what you mean about the "waste of money" thing; although going to the cinema is just something to do and is an experience.
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Old 04-24-2009, 12:12 PM   #12  
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Well, please let us know if you see it...

I know what you mean about the "waste of money" thing; although going to the cinema is just something to do and is an experience.
Will do Peter. I think i may be seeing it on saturday.
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Old 04-24-2009, 04:54 PM   #13  
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Will do Peter. I think i may be seeing it on saturday.
Awesome. I'm going to try and see Haunting in Connecticut tonight and I'll have my thoughts up on that if I do...
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Old 04-27-2009, 12:27 PM   #14  
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Awesome. I'm going to try and see Haunting in Connecticut tonight and I'll have my thoughts up on that if I do...
Hey Peter, i went to see Fast and the furious, i really enjoyed it. Its the first time at the movies in over a year for me! The film was good, lots of great action and it was definatly better than the two fast and the furious sequels. I didn't think it was as good as the first film but they never are!
Did you get to see Haunting in Connecticut?
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Old 04-27-2009, 09:28 PM   #15  
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Hey Peter, i went to see Fast and the furious, i really enjoyed it. Its the first time at the movies in over a year for me! The film was good, lots of great action and it was definatly better than the two fast and the furious sequels. I didn't think it was as good as the first film but they never are!
Did you get to see Haunting in Connecticut?
Hey Sig!

Thanks for checkin' back with us on it!

I agree totally -- better than 2 Fast 2 Furious and Tokyo Drift, but not better than the original.

No, I didn't get to see Haunting in Connecticut...is that playing in the UK as well?
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