It’s kind of sad to see Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Jordana Brewster and Michelle Rodriguez all return for this third sequel after dropping out of the series early on. They presumably veered away from the franchise in order to prevent limiting their careers, but to return like this feels like an admission of failure…
In what must be one of the most confusingly titled franchises in history (Rambo‘s up there, also), Fast & Furious seems to clearly have the biggest budget of them all, though sadly spends it all on digital effects. There’s very little in terms of actual stunt driving in this flick… but a lot of greenscreen work and CGI backdrops. The opening scene featuring a land train is fantastic, mainly because it seems to involve the most actual driving. Each successive car race/chase becomes more and more digital as we progress through the film, until we reach the woefully unexciting climax.
You could watch this film without seeing 2 Fast 2 Furious or The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift, as it’s the first time Dominic (Diesel), Mia (Brewster) and Brian (Walker) have been in the same film since number one. It picks up their relationship where it left off and Diesel and Walker do work quite well off each other.
The story itself isn’t particularly interesting – a mix of revenge and spite, basically, and the other drivers are distinct only insofar as they all have their own look, not because they’re well written. Director Justin Lin, who was also at the helm of the last instalment, has a little too much fun with the juxtapositioning of images – we have shots of women’s hot-panted crotches followed by close-ups of guys inserting fuel pump nozzles into their cars… uhuh, it’s that classy. The vehicular focus is definitely on American muscle and brightly coloured sleek Asian cars – at one stage we see a Porsche, but I think European cars are considered too Bond these days.
The film is generally quite entertaining despite all its shortcomings, though the god-awful dialogue begins to grate after not too long. That the best scenes are in the first half hour is definitely detrimental to the film overall. If it had relied less on special effects and more on actual stunt driving (Tarantino did it a hell of a lot better in Death Proof), then it may have been a great popcorn flick. As it stands, Fast & Furious is fine as long as you turn your brain off. And maybe squint a little so you’re less distracted by the CGI.Rating: