In yet another summer of bloated, costly, under-developed disappointments, it's taken a film made by and starring relative nobodies to slap Hollywood in the face and show them how to really do an event movie. Making its production costs back during its US opening weekend, The Fast And The Furious leaves you light-headed and sweaty-palmed by substituting visual flair and imagination for star names and an eight-figure budget.
Brian (Paul Walker), is a blond cop with TV soap pretty-boy looks who gets to argue with his boss, drive fast and snog Jordana Brewster. He's pretty, but he's bland, unlike Vin Diesel who, as Dominic Toretto, plays up his incredible physical presence to the max and reaffirms the message we got from Pitch Black last year - that he's a monumental film star waiting to happen. With his gravel-voiced delivery, all the testosterone- doused dialogue sounds pretty credible. He's the guy you actually believe when he says he lives his life a quarter-mile at a time, "in 10 seconds or less," - which would have made for an awesome alternative title if Bruckheimer's piece of crap car movie Gone In 60 Seconds hadn't used the idea first.
Obviously there's a plot in there somewhere, but from Brian's conflicted loyalty between his job and his new friends to the rival gang he suspects, make no mistake: The Fast And The Furious is Point Break with cars instead of surfboards. And it's all the better for it.
Which is surprising when you consider that director Rob Cohen was responsible for such plodding potboilers as The Skulls. But he's developed a born-again instinct for up-to-the-moment visuals. So cars don't just drive away - racks of down-lit racers precision-burst at the sound of police sirens. And while CGI trickery makes Pearl Harbor's bomb-cam shot look like yesterday's news with continuous shots that fly into cars, through their engines and out onto the street again via a flame-belching exhaust.
The Fast And The Furious is one for the boys, strutting through a world where every girl in the crowd is a silicone-enhanced hottie and every car has a chromed engine spouting Kevlar manifolds. With hair-raising stunt sequences that use straight-line speed and "Look, no safety mat!" camera angles rather than fast cutting and wobbly visuals, a sense of speed pervades every frame of the movie. In a summer where Hollywood's blockbuster machine has failed to excite, here's one popcorn flick that delivers a turbo-charged shock to the adrenal glands.
With a little money, a lot of innovation, and sweat-soaked stunt sequences backed by a thumping soundtrack, The Fast And The Furious reminds you just how exciting action cinema can be. It's everything that Gone In 60 Seconds should have been.