In this fourth installment of the Fast & Furious franchise, quite confusingly entitled Fast & Furious, the old crew is up to the same old tricks. Dom (Vin Diesel), Letty (Michelle Rodriguez), and Han (Sung Kang) rob a moving fuel truck in the Dominican Republic. They take their cut and split ways to lay low.
When Letty is murdered, the crew reunites to avenge her death. Wrapped up in this via FBI investigation is Brian O’Conner (Paul Walker), who now works for the bureau.
With this premise comes the narrative intrigue of Brian re-entering Dom’s world. Now rivals with the same goal, they must fight with each other while also aiming toward the ultimate purpose of finding Letty’s killer.
While this is an interesting place to take the franchise, particularly after the diversion that is the plot of Tokyo Drift (which this film is a prequel to), this is still the Fast & Furious franchise. As such, the plot is merely a means to a racing end. The narrative is superficial to the point where even Letty’s death is mostly glossed over in order to get to the next action sequence.
To be fair, the action sequences in the film are comparable to the rest of the series. The opening sequence, in particular, is impressive. Staging and visual effects work combine to make an engaging entrance to the film.
As the film progresses, though, it becomes clear that Fast & Furious is one of the lesser installments to the franchise. The races are flatter. The foot chases are erratic. The additional characters provide little in the way of narrative interest. The film certainly engages in the male gaze more than any of the other films.
There is something missing in Fast & Furious. Pacing and excitement are absent from many scenes, and those set pieces meant for excitement and breakneck pacing feel bogged down. Walker puts forth one of his better performances as his character, but the rest of the cast lacks the urgency needed for the film to feel fresh.
In the end, the title of this film makes some sense. Fast & Furious is, by and large, a remake of The Fast and the Furious, only they make an attempt here to up the stakes. Instead of being bigger and better, though, it is tired and slowed down by its unsatisfying moving parts.
Fast & Furious: D
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—Alex Brannan (@TheAlexBrannan)