MovieMantz Review: ‘Fast & Furious'

"Back in the 'Fast' Lane"

"Fast & Furious"
Vin Diesel, Paul Walker
Directed by Justin Lin

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If you like fast cars and fast women — and, really, what red-blooded young male doesn't? — then "Fast & Furious" is for you.

Then again, the same could be said about the first movie. And the second. And the third.

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But at least the fourth film in this testosterone-fueled franchise has something that was missing from its two predecessors (2003's "2 Fast 2 Furious" and 2006's "Tokyo Drift"). For the first time since 2001's "The Fast and the Furious" became a surprise hit (grossing more than $207 million worldwide), all of the original players are back in the driver's seat — Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Jordana Brewster and Michelle Rodriguez.

That makes "Fast & Furious" the first true sequel to the original film. And thanks to a stronger story written by Chris Morgan ("Wanted"), a surprising amount of character development (more than a film like this probably deserves) and, of course, more over-the-top car chases, it's also the best in the series.

But let's not kid ourselves — Diesel and Walker still give one-note performances, while Brewster and Rodriguez have less to do than they did the first time around. But due to stylish direction from Justin Lin (who directed "Tokyo Drift") and just the right amount of chemistry between Diesel and Walker, "Fast & Furious" has plenty under the hood to keep this franchise running full-throttle.

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Grovel-voiced fugitive Dominic Toretto (Diesel) and rogue FBI agent Brian O'Connor (Walker) are drawn together once again, this time to take down a notorious drug-runner who's looking for daredevil drivers to move his product across the border. Toretto has a personal vendetta to settle, while O'Connor needs Toretto to get the job done. They're both in the hot seat, but once they put the pedal to the metal, nothing can stand in their way.

It's hard to believe that the first movie came out eight years ago, especially because the buff Diesel and the steely Walker look exactly the same. But this new lap will do them a world of good, since they each saw their careers stall out in recent years — Walker hasn't had a hit since 2006's "Eight Below," while Diesel's biggest movie goes back further, to 2005's "The Pacifier."

Beyond the intensely choreographed car chases, "Fast & Furious" serves as a reminder as to why their careers took off in the first place. And even though it leaves the door open for a fifth movie, it remains to be seen whether or not they'll be game for another lap. For the moment though, "Fast & Furious" does what it does very well, so just enjoy it for the fun and furious ride that it is.

Verdict: SEE IT!

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