Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) enjoys the adrenaline of street car racing and his fans treat him like a rock star. After a blazing encounter with the ruthless Johnny Tran, Dom decides to take Brian (Paul Walker), a newcomer to street racing, under his wing. Dom’s sister Mia sees something she likes in Brian, too. Trouble is, neither of them realizes he’s an undercover cop, and Dominic and his rival Johnny Tran are both the prime suspects in a case involving dirty money and big-rig hijacking.
Can you believe that I have never watched the Fast & Furious film franchise? I’ve only ever watched Hobbs & Shaw in its entirety, but as for the other main entries in the series, I’ve only seen clips from a few of them. When I was about thirteen years old, one of my best friends was obsessed with the series and would show me clips when he came over to my house frequently. And although thirteen-year-old me was extremely impressed and entertained by watching a bunch of oiled-up muscular dudes driving cars and causing mayhem, I never went out of my way to watch these movies for whatever reason.
Even just sitting here, typing that out, it seems crazy to me even that I haven’t watched this franchise yet, and so since F9 is supposed to come out at the end of June, I figured now would be the best possible time to watch the entire series before the latest installment hits theatres.
The Fast & Furious property is one that usually receives a mixed response from critics. If you look at some reviews online, it’s clear that a lot of critics don’t really enjoy them, but I went into this original 2001 entry with an open mind as I do with every single movie that I see, regardless of if I’ve heard bad things online. And I gotta say, I actually had quite a good time with Rob Cohen‘s The Fast and the Furious. It doesn’t really have a focus at times and it can essentially feel like a movie in which a bunch of badass guys race each other in sports cars with little else of substance, but at the same time, that’s kind of what makes it so entertaining.
Don’t get me wrong – there are some instances in the film in which a story or a motive is made a little clear, but for the most part, this movie was probably only made for car or racing lovers. But gratefully, even if you’re not a huge car fan, you can still get a lot of enjoyment out of this film mainly due to the characterization.
By the time the credits rolled, I truly felt like I got a sense of who mostly every character was. I could spend quite a while talking about how Vin Diesel is pretty much the embodiment of a muscular badass in the role of Dominic Toretto, who has since become the franchise staple at this point, but the late Paul Walker as Brian O’Connor is equally amazing. His charisma, wit, and undeniable charm shine through in every single scene. It’s honestly no wonder why so many viewers fell in love with the actor and his portrayal of Brian O’Connor immediately after watching the film.
Something that did kind of surprise me here was the direction. It’s not necessarily bad but it’s nothing spectacular either. Rob Cohen’s direction does have a sense of energy but it feels a little sloppy at times, too. Plus there’s a ton of lens flares and for some reason, a lot of the scenes seem to have some sort of a yellow tint to them. To be honest, it kind of made me feel like I was watching a Michael Bay movie, and let’s just say that I don’t really enjoy watching his films.
But where the direction can be a bit heavy-handed, the soundtrack is certainly an immediate standout. The tracks here are definitely not going to be for everybody – there’s a lot of hip-hop and R&B that line the film – but it definitely put me in the mood for entertainment.
The Fast and the Furious probably isn’t the best movie in the franchise. I’ve heard that a lot of the sequels are significantly better than this one, but even still, I had a lot of fun with this film even if it has flaws. It actually made me want to get in my car and just drive around, which few movies have made me want to do.
Overall Grade: B
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13 for violence, sexual content, and language
Directed by: Rob Cohen
Distributed by: Universal Pictures
Release Date: June 22, 2001
Running Time: 106 minutes