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. Of course, he manages to fall in love with Toretto’s sister and pressures from his superior officers aren’t helping matters any!
What the movie offers is a fast-paced, testoserone-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 presented in it’s 2.35:1 ratio and is enhanced for 16:9 T.V’s. The image is simply amazing! Colors are a bit muted out and desolate, but the candy-colored cars that appear throughout the film tend to jump right off the screen. There is no evidence of artifacting and the black levels are right on target. Fleshtones appear to be normal, but with just some color correction that was done for the film. Not everyone has a perfect tan in real life, but all of these people do! There appears to be nothing wrong with the print at all and I couldn’t find a single error. Now comes the hard part…I want to give this a reference-quality grade, but when I think of films like Toy Story and Shrek, how does this compete? Well, I think there are two types of "perfection" and one is the film grade and the other is the digital grade. This obviously goes into the film category and I don’t think that many films out there look nearly as nice as this one. It’s absolute perfection.
Audio: How does it sound?
When you have to turn down the volume at the menus, you know you might be in for a very loud movie. This is the case here. Included is a Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack along with a DTS track. I listened to the DTS track first and was so impressed with the sound that I had to mute it just to comprehend how loud it was! The entire movie feels like you’re standing right in the middle of a nightclub. The bass and the surrounds rarely stop for anything and it does everything to enhance the viewing of the movie. There’s little else to say, if you want to show off your system, turn it to any racing scene in this movie. You won’t be disappointed.
Supplements: What are the extras?
One of Universal’s "Collector’s Edition" means one thing…extras. The Fast and the Furious has these in spades and let’s take a look at some of them. The feature length commentary with Director Rob Cohen is very entertaining, he never lets up and provides a very insightful track. I did forget to mention that there is a Public Service Announcement from Paul Walker who basically tells us that the driving was done by professionals and not to try this. Thanks Paul, I don’t feel the need for speed that much! There is a making of The Fast and the Furious which is the same as all of the other "making of" featurettes that you see on every disc out there. Running about 17 minutes in length, it has interviews with the cast and crew and tells a bit how some of the stunts were made. A nice feature and a welcome addition to the disc. Racer X is the article that inspired the whole movie and it’s printed here in it’s entirety. A short editing featurette is included which shows the process of how they had to edit the movie to get it’s PG-13 rating. They concentrate on the sequence towards the end of the film when Jesse’s (Chad Lindberg) arm is caught in the wire when trying to rob the truck. Amazing how much has to be done to please the MPAA! Several deleted scenes are also shown (8 in all) and while some are very short (I’ve never gottn why they show a four second deleted scene) they all contain optional commentary by Cohen. Still, the movie wasn’t that long to begin with and while these don’t add that much to the movie, it’s a wonder why they were left out. A storyboard to feature comparison is just that. Storyboards are how the movie is thought out and then the final product is shown. Interesting and neat to see how much doesn’t change sometimes. Something that let me down a bit was the eight angle feature of the final stunt. It is just that. One of the most touted features of DVD was the multi-angle feature and it’s hardly used except on adult films (so I’m told). This would have been a perfect opportunity to utilize that feature but instead we’re treated to the same scene from eight different angles and we have to manually select them. It’s interesting, for sure, but I was a bit let down by the technology here. There are a few music videos by Ja Rule (who has a cameo as Edwin in the movie), Caddillac Tah and Saliva. The standard trailer, production notes and cast bios are also included. Some DVD-ROM material is also included and it’s nice to see more attention being paid to the DVD-ROM area of the movie. It’s an uptapped market. The disc is loaded, looks and sounds amazing…it’s well worth your money if you purchase this disc.