The Fast and the Furious (Blu-ray)

January 28, 2012 10 Min Read

Review by: Matt Brighton

Plot: What’s it about?

While Director Rob Cohen’s list of credits isn’t that illustrious, there is some consistency to his work. With last year’s surprising success of The Skulls, Cohen had a little more room to work with and with two up and coming actors, had a hit on his hands with The Fast and the Furious. Naturally, the plot of this film is paper thin. In fact, it’s a plot that we’ve seen time and time again, most notably in Donnie Brasco and Point Break. Call me crazy, but I think that if you were to cover your eyes and just listened to Paul Walker (who plays Brian) speak, he’s impersonating Keanu Reeves from his role in Point Break! Just my opinion, and maybe there’s some inside meaning to it, but The Fast and the Furious is nothing too original. Now that is a good and a bad thing. Of course, we all like to see groundbreaking movies like Pulp Fiction and The Usual Suspects, but there’s nothing wrong with a little summer movie that has chiseled actors in fast cars. Right?

And this brings us to the plot of the movie, which as I mentioned before is pretty basic. Officer Brian O’Conner (Paul Walker) is undercover trying to bust up a ring of extreme car racers. They race along the streets of Los Angeles at night in their Honda’s and Toyota’s at 140 miles per hour. The leader of one of these gangs of racers is Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel). Toretto and his group of friends are the best at racing. They own a shop and are suspected of robbing trucks full of DVD players and other valuable electronic equipment. Brian’s job is to infiltrate the group, without being caught of course, and bring them down from the inside. Naturlly, he manages to fall in love with Toretto’s sister (Jordanna Brewster) and pressures from his superior officers aren’t helping matters any!

What the movie offers is a fast-paced, testosterone-fueled 120 minutes of fun. While I thought that the movie would end up killing more kids (trying to drive their cars like they do in the movie), it turned out to be a big success. I never really heard stories about kids getting into car accidents via this movie, but then again a lot happened this summer. The strong point of the movie is Vin Diesel. I am becoming a bigger fan of his with every new movie he does. He is a great actor and a talented writer as well. It’s no understatement to say that he is going places (as evidenced by his paycheck for Pitch Black 2). Walker, who worked with Cohen on The Skulls, plays the part but really relies on his looks as opposed to his acting ability. I suppose it’s worked for him until now, so why change? While this film won’t win any awards (well, maybe for sound), it cleaned up at the box office this summer. I wouldn’t be surprised to see a sequel shortly, as any film that is moderately successful seems to have four parts these days. Suspend your disbelief, have fun and you’ll enjoy The Fast and the Furious.

Video: How does it look?

“The Fast and the Furious” is a film that’s had several incarnations on DVD and it even had a HD DVD release. This marks its debut on Blu-ray and the 2.35:1 AVC HD transfer is among the best I’ve seen. I’m sure there’s been a bit of DNR to the transfer, but the transfer is eye-popping to say the least. First off, the cars ? they look amazing. From the cherry red Honda to the lime green of Brian’s car, you feel like you could reach out and touch them. Fleshtones are accurate; the actors (especially Walker) look like they’ve been in a tanning bed a tad too long. Detail is amazing, we can see the digital readout on the stereo system and the carbon fibers in the decoration. I saw no evidence of grain or artifacting in the least. For those expecting a stellar transfer, your wishes have been granted.

Audio: How does it sound?

Nearly as good as the video is the DTS Master Audio track that makes a bold statement. It’s not only the strong soundtrack, but the little nuances that come into play in the surrounds that make this so active. Of course we can expect plenty of car races coupled with the hum of the engine ? everything sounds amazing. Dialogue is natural as well, close your eyes and you might just hear an echo of Keanu Reeves (warning: may not work). This mix is a tad superior to the standard DVD release, which sounded pretty darn good. On all technical levels “The Fast and the Furious” delivers for sure.

Supplements: What are the extras?

As mentioned above, this series of movies has seen multiple releases and now with the entire “Trilogy” on Blu-ray our collections are complete…for the time being. Ever wonder why this was released now? Well, a fourth installment is coming (aptly-titled “Fast and Furious”) so what better way to promote it than to get loyal fans to buy what they’ve already bought before. That said, “The Fast and the Furious” carries over most of the supplements from the previous standard DVD’s but we’ve got some new features that are exclusive to Blu-ray as well. Diving right in with Rob Cohen’s commentary, I was amazed at how technical he is. Naturally there was a lot of choreography involved here and how involved he was in it. It is the same track from before and not new to this Blu-ray. New features include a look at “Dom’s Charger”, the car he’s afraid to drive yet does in the first (and later, the third) and most likely the new installment as well. I dunno, is 900 horsepower enough? Next we get “Quarter Mile at a Time” which follows the birth of street-racing back in the early part of the 20th century to what it’s now become. I do find it a bit amusing to imagine two Model T’s street racing though. We do get the same deleted and extended scenes as well as Paul Walker’s PSA in which he tells us not to drive fast. Ok Paul, will do. We also get the obligatory “Making of…” the film with some interviews with the cast and crew as well as an alternate ending to the film. Some other featurettes show us how to “Trick out a Hot Import Car” which basically takes a lot of money and puts you on the police radar. There are some interesting features with the oft-used angle function in which we get so see a few scenes from a different vantage point. Lastly, a short featurette on editing for the MPAA is also shown. But wait, there’s more! We get a visual effects montage, some storyboards showing concept and completion as well as the same four music videos that were on the original DVD. The original theatrical trailer is included as well as a preview for “2Fast 2Furious” which is now six years old. Finally, the disc is D-Box enabled but I’ve never used that feature. If you do though, it’s there.

Oh we’re not done yet…we get a slew of Blu-ray exclusive extras starting out with Universal’s “U-Control” allowing us to watch the film with a picture-in-picture commentary track (which is basically redundant if you’ve watched the rest of the supplements). You can also see the specs for the cars in the movie and can do a virtual assessment as to how much it will cost to fix the cars as they become destroyed. I guess they didn’t think what might happen to the driver? Finally, the BD-Live feature is in full effect here and you can share your favorite scenes with your fiends and also create your own music video. Suffice it to say that this two-disc set is more than worth the money, though you have to buy the box set to get it.

Disc Scores