“Fast and Furious” deserves less of a review and more of a guide. It has prerequisites. If you have a couple hours to spare, watch “The Fast and the Furious” (2001), the first movie in the franchise. If you’re busy, at least remember this: Letty is Dom’s girlfriend. Mia is Dom’s sister and Brian’s former love interest. Cool? Cool.
I’m telling you this because in the first 30 minutes of “Fast and Furious,” everything goes to hell and nothing makes sense. I was personally convinced at one point that Dom (Vin Diesel) was hooking up with his sister — I mean, Vin Diesel could get with anyone he wants right?
Once in a while, a movie makes me appreciate the necessity of plot. Not necessarily a good plot, but a plot. The confusion of characters and motivations and everyone’s desires for revenge on everyone else made no sense. I quickly began wishing for racing scenes, just so I could have a break from dialogue long enough to gather my thoughts.
Another rule for watching “Fast and Furious”: Don’t make the mistake of thinking that this is the fourth “The Fast and the Furious” movie. Instead, “Fast and Furious” is the sequel to the first, ignores the second entirely and is the prequel to the third. All this is alluded to in strange throwaway references. Watch out for these.
All that being said, the cars and their scenes are awesome (read: fast and furious). The opening shot is worth the price of admission alone, even if it has no relation to the rest of the movie. I won’t spoil it for you. The action keeps up, too: A GPS-guided race later on in the movie retains a sort of old-time charm. Through clever and simple choreography, it harkens back to pre-Michael Bay days when cars didn’t have to turn into robots or blow up when losing a race. It works.
By its final third, the film has set itself in motion enough and has killed off or arrested enough secondary characters that a simple plot emerges — and it goes on to guide you very aggressively toward it. The first time Dom and Brian drive through a tunnel system under the U.S.-Mexico border, the camera pans to a barrier of explosives off to the side of the path in the tunnel. Are you serious? Why would there be a barrier of explosives? With blinking lights? In a dark tunnel?
The second time they drive through, the camera pans to it again. The third time, someone blows up — Fin.
So, all in all, “Fast and Furious” is more of the same. But more of this same is something I’ll always go see.