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Blu-ray Review: Fast & Furious

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Cars, money, drugs, women, sex – any one of these five things will make any movie fare well with the male demographic. Combine some of them and you have a good showing on your hands. Put all of them together and you have what should amount to a blockbuster, and you should be raking in the dough. This is what Fast & Furious attempts to do when it mixes sweet cars, sexy women, and lots of booze into one movie. At a gross of nearly 350 million dollars (to date), the movie easily was that blockbuster, even though it was a critical flop.

Fast & Furious starts off in the Dominican Republic where Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) and his team are busy trying to steal gasoline tankers and sell the fuel for cash. After pulling off one such heist, the crew learns that the cops are hot on their trail and they all start to split up. Toretto goes down to Panama for awhile, until he is alerted that his girlfriend, Letty (Michelle Rodriguez ) has been murdered. He heads home for the funeral, and starts to plan his revenge.

After a cut scene, the movie quickly catches you up on what FBI agent Brian O'Conner (Paul Walker) is up to. O’Conner is running around the country chasing a drug dealer named Arturo Braga (note: I see the similarities in the last name, but this fictional character is not related to myself), and needs to crack the case or lose his job. Really, that is all he has been doing between this movie and the franchise's previous installment.

Somewhere, along the way, O’Conner meets up with Toretto and they team up to fight the bad guys together. Using information from the FBI, muscle cars that have been impounded by local cops, and lots of guns, the two go throughout the world to take down Braga. Of course, there are lots of explosions, a large disregard for the law, and an ignorance of jurisdiction throughout the movie.


Look at that all-American muscle

Frankly, it surprises me that Fast & Furious had a plot longer than a few pages. The storyline fits together, though it has its potholes — why two enemies, O’Conner and Toretto, would actually work together is the main one —  and actually manages to last the length of the movie. As the entire film is about special effects and racing, I expected the plot to be similar in size to that of a porno; while it is longer, the plot is not that much better.

Likewise, the acting is not much better than in a porn movie. Vin Diesel and Walker are probably the worst action actors of all time, and that is saying something. The two of them show no emotion, little animation, and frankly look like cardboard cutouts of muscular men for most of the movie. I truly believe that the CIA should stop waterboarding terrorists, and instead force them to watch these two actors trade lines with each other.

On the other hand, there was one redeeming feature from Fast & Furious. Even though I could never afford them, I love the cars that are in this movie. From classic American muscle, to the imports from Japan, all of the main illegal racing cars show up. This pleases me greatly, as my testosterone levels jumped through the roof throughout the movie. I love to see street racing, and this movie filled me up.


Even with the horrible actors leaning on them, those cars gleam like gold.

I have always felt that with movies of this nature, Blu-ray is the best way to showcase them. In Fast & Furious, one needs to see all of the colors, all of the smoke, and all of the action to enjoy it. Frankly, this movie does not disappoint in this regard. All of the cars pop off of the screen at you, as their paint jobs glisten. The action feels realistic, and seeing all of the little things – from the smoke of the race, to the tire treads the cars leave behind – makes it feel lifelike. All of the colors are sharp and crisp, and the black levels are deep and full. With so little CG in the movie, it is wonderful that it feels so real.

As for the sound, I was less than pleased. Throughout the movie, I reached for the remote time and time again, as I needed to turn down the volume. The balancing is horrible, as we jump from a race scene (really, really loud) to a dialog scene (very, very soft). As for the score, well it is lost in all the engine revving. While one should expect lower quality from an action movie, I am extremely disappointed in the sound quality of Fast & Furious.

Likewise, the extras on the Blu-ray release of Fast & Furious are disappointing. Frankly, most of the extras feel useless and self-gratifying, as they feature Vin Diesel or are directed and created by him. Additionally, the ones that sound interesting, such as the "Under the Hood" extra, really exist simply to please the muscle-heads that watch the film. The only worthwhile extra, in my opinion, is "Driving School," where we see Vin Diesel learning how to drive. Seeing him as a submissive student, and really pissed off in that role, made my day. Other than that single extra, nothing here is worthwhile.

The extras included on the Blu-ray release of Fast & Furious are:

 

  • Los Bandoleros Short Film
  • Under the Hood: Muscle Cars
  • Gag Reel
  • Digital Copy
  • Under the Hood: Imports
  • Getting the Gang Back Together
  • Driving School with Vin Diesel
  • Shooting the Big Rig Heist
  • Races and Chases
  • High Octane: The Stunts
  • South of the Border: Filming in Mexico
  • Virtual Car Garage
  • Video Mash-Up

Overall, I am not too pleased with Fast & Furious. The film shows some promise at the beginning, but bad acting, a bad script, and horrible sound really just hold it back. I appreciate the effort that went into the stunts and the cars, but they are not enough to save this movie from itself. Though it is better than Tokyo Drift, Fast & Furious is easily near the bottom of the pile when it comes to the series. However, as there are implications of a fifth film at the end of the movie, Fast & Furious might not stay near the bottom for too long.

Movie: While it shows some promise, the movie falls on its face.
Blu-ray Quality: The colors pop and everything feels lifelike.
Audio Quality: I was reaching for my remote far too often.
Extras: Nothing really worthwhile in the mix.
Overall: Not a good movie to add to your collection.

Fast & Furious is rated PG-13 for for intense sequences of violence and action, some sexual content, language and drug references.

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About Robert M. Barga