WILL THIS FAST CAR MOVIE MAKE YOU FURIOUS?

CRITIC DOCTOR EXAMINES: Owen Gleiberman (Entertainment Weekly), James Kendrick (qnetwork.com), Heather Wadowski (FilmThreat.com), Mick LaSalle (San Francisco Chronicle), Andrew O’Hehir (Salon.com), Berge Garabedian (Joblo.com), David Perry (cinema-scene.com), Dave White (ifilm.com), Roger Ebert & Richard Roeper (“Ebert & Roeper and the Movies” – Buena Vista TV), Rob Blackwelder (splicedwire.com) and Andrew Manning (radiofree.com)
* * * * out of 4 stars
When I first saw the movie trailer for “The Fast and the Furious,” I thought to myself, “Uh, oh,” (as thoughts of last year’s “Gone in 60 Seconds” raced through my mind). So will this race car movie drive down the same dead-end road or will it pass the checkered flag?
“The Fast and the Furious” is a film about rival Los Angeles street teams who use illegal street racing as their way of establishing power. A rookie cop, Brian O’Conner (Paul Walker), goes undercover as a racing team member to investigate truck hijackings on the interstate. When he wins the trust of hotshot leader Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel), the story kicks into high gear – with Diesel in the movie’s driver seat.
Owen Gleiberman (Entertainment Weekly) said, “Diesel can be a powerful actor (he ruled ‘Boiler Room’ like a pumped up Miguel Ferrer), but ‘The Fast and the Furious,’ in trying to make him ‘noble,’ just ends up bleaching his surly charisma.” If the bleach did anything, Owen, it made Diesel’s charisma shine! Indeed better roles will come for Vin Diesel, but his uniqueness as an actor stands out in this film like big bright headlights. Many critics agree:
- “Diesel was a perfect choice for the role in the way he exudes power and confidence.” James Kendrick (qnetwork.com) ^ – “Diesel is absolute perfection in his portrayal of Dominic, a tough yet likable street racer.” Heather Wadowski (FilmThreat.com) ^ – “The poise and the growling bass voice of a real original — and a future star.” Mick LaSalle (San Francisco Chronicle) ^ – “Vin Diesel, my candidate for action hero of the new millennium.” Andrew O’Hehir (Salon.com) ^ – “I already said this once in my review of ‘Pitch Black,’ but I’ll say it again here – Vin Diesel rocks!” Berge Garabedian (Joblo.com)
Actor Paul Walker, on the other hand, got a bad rap from critics. David Perry (cinema-scene.com) said Walker “fails on nearly every level.” Heather Wadowski (filmthreat.com) said, “Walker is as bland as ever and supplies further support for those who think he’s landing roles simply based on his good looks.” Both critics just didn’t get it. Walker’s character worked because of his chemistry with Diesel. If anything, this is Walker’s greatest career move!
Dave White (ifilm.com) said, “For the record, this movie is actually stupider than ‘Driven’ and ‘Gone in 60 Seconds.’ I know, I know, you’re thinking, ‘How can this be?’ But it is the truth.”
That’s the stupidest movie comparison I ever heard! For the love of God, Dave. “Gone in Sixty Seconds” had no story! The characters sucked! And the movie had fewer car scenes (though many were good). I liked “Driven,” but neither film even comes close to “The Fast and the Furious.” Perhaps, Dave, you should have watched “Ebert and Roeper.”
This week on “Ebert & Roeper and the Movies” (Buena Vista TV), Richard Roeper (Chicago Sun-Times) concludes the movie should be called ‘The Dumb and the Reckless.’” Roger Ebert got it right (listen up Dave White): “It got exactly what it wanted to get done. It delivered this kind of summer exploitation mentality in a clever way, instead of a dumb way.”
Yes. We’ve seen this movie before and it even has some cheesy dialog. Owen Gleiberman brilliantly calls it “‘Point Break’ on hot wheels.” It’s not the smartest movie, but it’s not necessarily dumb either. But it does have a story and guts – relying very little on CGI special effects. You feel the rush when cars go fast and there is a really cool stunt scene involving a train you must see.
Rob Blackwelder (splicedwire.com) said, “Can’t somebody just make a highlights film of race scenes from pointless movies like ‘Driven,’ ‘Gone in 60 Seconds’ and ‘The Fast and the Furious’ so we can watch the zooming cars without having to put up with the brain-dead plots?”
Uh, Rob? Ever think of just going to a racetrack?
Andrew Manning (radiofree.com) summed the movie up best: “Faster than ‘Gone in Sixty Seconds’ and more furious than ‘Driven.’”
This movie rockets passed the checkered flag and wins 4 stars! It’s about time a light summer movie about fast cars kept my interest. Get in your car now and go see it!
–CRITIC DOCTOR
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Posted on July 3, 2001 in Features by
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