The Fast and the Furious

Jun 27, 2001 at 12:00 am

Cops and robbers, buddies on either side of the law and a love story that turns sister against brother drive The Fast and the Furious through spectacular car chases, street races — and the soap-operatics the title suggests. This is a flick mostly about cars (hot, little, cheap and foreign), women (hot, little California girls) and the handsome grease monkeys who love them both.

Blue-eyed and blond, boy-band cute, a stranger, Brian Spilner (Paul Walker, The Skulls) drifts into Dominic Toretto’s (Vin Diesel, Pitch Black) diner and auto shop. Spilner’s looking for action: admittance into Toretto’s high-speed realm of illegal LA street racing — and into the affections of the brown-eyed hottie behind the counter, Toretto’s sultry little sister Mia (Jordana Brewster, The Faculty). He gets both and more than he’s bargained for through police chases, shootouts and crashes.

If the snarl of revving engines and the squeal of burning tires isn’t your idea of a love song, pick another flick at the multiplex. The heart of The Fast and the Furious is turbocharged and nitrous oxide-injected. If that’s Greek to you, then you’re just left with a bad odd-couple, cops-and-robbers movie with a touch of tear-jerking, father-and-son melodrama for the effect of depth.

When it comes to dialogue, these guys should mostly just shut up and drive their cars. Toretto’s lines lapse into macho clichés, rock lyric-quality prose and sexism that suggests women are sex machines. Walker’s delivery recalls the woodenness of Keanu Reeves’ more mediocre performances.

But if anything can take you for a ride in this muddle, it’s director Rob Cohen’s (The Skulls) souped-up, race-and-chase set pieces. Compact Japanese road rockets seem to launch toward impossible, near-light speed down LA streets; Hondas dodge under speeding semi-trailers and Spilner’s Celica leaps like Steve McQueen’s Mustang in Bullitt (1968). The climax features Toretto’s father’s supercharged ’70s Charger rising up like a wheelie-popping, American T. Rex Goliath to Spilner’s Toyota David.

Are fast sex objects enough for your $8.50? If not, you’ll end up leaving before the closing credits, fast and furious.

Click here to visit the official The Fast and the Furious Web site.

E-mail James Keith La Croix at [email protected].