Diesel fuels Furious

Diesel with Rodriguez.
Diesel with Rodriguez.
Credit: 
Photo courtesy of moviefanonline.com

The Fast and the Furious
Directed by Rob Cohen
Starring Vin Diesel, Michelle Rodriguez, Paul Walker Currently playing at the Capitol 7 Theatres

***½

Several recent Hollywood films have attempted to refuel the endangered sub-genre of the cool car flick.

After the disappointingly predictable Gone in Sixty Seconds blew through theatres last summer with all the unbridled power and white trash aplomb of a ’68 Mustang on cinder blocks, the future looked grim for speed junkies and their onscreen heroes.

In The Fast and The Furious, director Rob Cohen (Dragonheart) leads some young talent to succeed where others have failed. With a story about the relationship between a naïve undercover cop (Paul Walker) and a remorseless criminal (Vin Diesel), Furious rides the same twists and turns as Reservoir Dogs or Point Break. Instead of philosophical surfers or well-dressed gangsters, however, the film is populated with ethnically divided gangs that race flashy hot rods and ‘crotch rockets’ illegally through the empty streets of L.A.

Balancing out the heavy doses of testosterone is Girlfight’s Michelle Rodriguez as Diesel’s girlfriend. The actress provides a strong female presence amidst the chauvinism of street racing.

Despite an alarming number of one-dimensional stock characters (including the prolific Ja Rule as a swaggering gang-banger), the chemistry between Walker and Diesel is real. Both men stalk across the screen with a drive indicative of raw talent, unencumbered by star persona and pretension.

In scenes where the plot slackens its breakneck pace, the film is easily carried on the brawny shoulders of Diesel, whose on-screen charisma struggles against the celluloid like a caged jaguar. If the film proves anything, it’s that Vin Diesel is the man.

Despite the steady adrenaline rush that the flick excites, The Fast and the Furious will not wow the intellect—Citizen Kane it is not. However, Cohen ably manages to navigate his hungry young actors through some worn-out cliches, and in the process injects a little fuel into a genre that has lately been running on fumes.

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