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Fast and Furious
Vin Diesel returns to what works.
Fast and Furious
Vin Diesel and Paul Walker Star in "Fast and Furious."
OPENING WEEKEND: $28,000,000
DOMESTIC TOTAL: $95,000,000
  This Film is NOT a Future Release.
  The Following Preview has been Archived.

January 12th, 2009: When a crime brings them back to L.A., fugitive ex-con Dom Toretto (Diesel) reignites his feud with agent Brian O'Conner (Walker). But as they are forced to confront a shared enemy, Dom and Brian must give in to an uncertain new trust if they hope to outmanuever him. And from convoy heists to precision tunnel crawls across international lines, two men will find the best way to get revenge: push the limits of what's possible behind the wheel.

What to Expect: Oh, Vin Diesel. That poor, poor man. Once upon a time he was a promising young newcomer. He was in "Saving Private Ryan." He was in "Pitch Black," an underrated and very well-done sci-fi thriller in which he is terrifying yet charismatic. I had high hopes. We all had high hopes.

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And then...I don't know what happened. Scratch that, I know exactly what happened. It's the same thing that's been happening to promising young actors for decades. What happens is that the Hollywood establishment smells blood in the...oh wait, I mean "they discover a promising young actor." They collectively decide, in somewhat Borg Collective fashion, that he will be the new It Guy and they cast him in some hunky testosterone role in which he will get to be James Bond but without the class, or Cary Grant without the style. They promise money and fame and women and oh, by the way, resistance is futile. Some actors manage to avoid it. It almost happened to Heath Ledger. After "The Patriot" they had him tagged as a new It Boy, but after seeing the extreme closeup of his own face ten feet tall on all those "Knight's Tale" posters, he slammed on the brakes and managed to salvage his career and his credibility.

What did Vin Diesel do when this happened to him? He starred in "XXX."

Poor Vin. You know, I was actually shocked to discover how little he's worked since. He only has 4 film credits between "XXX" and this new film. What was it that sunk him? Many people blame his ill-advised family –film foray "The Pacifier," but I don't. It's everything. He simply ceased to be interesting. Young actors are a dime a dozen. You have to stay interesting, and to do that you take a variety of roles in indie projects and theater projects and you don't let yourself take the easy road. Because that's boring and nobody cares.

So here he is, back in a not-quite-sequel, not-quite-prequel installment of this car-racing series (some press is calling it a "midquel," believe it or not) where he'd had so much success. He appeared in the first film, did not appear in the second, had an uncredited cameo in the third, and now not just Vin but the whole gang is back for this "midquel," if I'm to use this absurd term. In fact, none of the original cast appeared in "The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift," although Diesel did have that cameo, which will be explained by this new film, which takes places before that one but after "2 Fast 2 Furious." Everyone following along?

I confess that the number of films I've seen in this series is zero point zero zero. Maybe I'm stereotyping myself as a chick here, but popcorn flicks about driving real fast don't hold much interest to me. And I'm not a chick-flick kind of chick! "Die Hard" is one of my favorite movies! I can recite "Reservoir Dogs" from start to finish! Okay, getting off topic, I know. The first film in this series was very successful, grossing nearly $150 million on a $38 million budget. The sequel "2 Fast 2 Furious" (film title written by Prince, apparently) grossed $127 million on a $76 million budget. So...double the budget, lower box office. That doesn't seem like a very good cost/benefit outcome to me, and yet a third film, something about Tokyo and drifting, was greenlit. It featured none of the original cast members, and was something about Tokyo and drifting. Both of these were handicaps, and the film only grossed $62 million. I don't have budget figures for that one, but if it was less than $30 million I'll eat my shirt. So not a washout, but not the return Universal was hoping for, I'm sure.

And here we are again. I can only surmise that the studio is hoping to go back to the well. It's the same people! It's back to whatever it was you loved about the first one! Look, Vin Diesel is back! And hey, we're so cool we no longer need definite articles in our title! We're slick and hard-core and did I mention Vin Diesel is back? Please come see our movie, pretty pretty please?

Have I mentioned lately that sometimes I am so frustrated by the culture of paranoid mediocrity in Hollywood that I could just...well, compose a strongly-worded letter, at the very least. Or rant about it here, take your pick.

So. What's this movie about? Ex-con Diesel and former agent Paul Walker, frenemies of old, must re-team against a common enemy and oh, who the heck cares? It's all about the cars, baby, the cars. Anything worth doing is worth overdoing, and I think that maxim applies tenfold when you're talking about the fourth installment in a faltering series that was testosterone-based to begin with. There will be stuff blowed up real good. There will be fisticuffs of the non-honorable variety. There will be women in tank tops, I guarantee it. And there will be lots and lots of cars driving real, real fast.

The film's being directed by Justin Lin, who directed Tokyo Drift, which seems a little suspect...why bring in the guy who helmed the series' least successful installment? Maybe they thought he deserved another shot at it. And get this. Vin Diesel is so psyched about getting back to his roots that he's directed a twenty minute prequel short film (which I guess would be the prequel to the three-quel's prequel, or something) starring himself, Rodriguez, and one of the stars of Tokyo Drift. No one seems to know how this short will be distributed; my guess is that it'll be online and then later on the DVD release. Diesel has been expressing more interest in directing lately; he's already directed a couple of small films and it was recently announced that he'll be directing himself in 2011's "Hannibal the Conqueror." Despite the fact that I've spent most of this review heaping shame on him, I kind of like Vin Diesel and I hope it works out for him.

At the moment the film is scheduled to open April 3, although I'm loathe to make any predictions based on that since there's been so much shuffling around lately. That's a safe opening date for a mid-level action flick; it won't have to go up against the summer tentpoles. As for an audience, I'm sure there's a sizable one who are fans of the first film, all of whom I have probably royally pissed off with this preview. No offense, guys. So with the excitement among fans at seeing the original cast reunited, I'm sure the film will give a solid, but not stellar, performance. It'll outperform "Tokyo Drift" but not the original or "2 Fast 2 Furious." You heard it here first.

In Conclusion: The first film was a surprise hit, and it sure looks like the studio is trying to recapture that with this film getting the whole gang back together to race more cars and blow up more stuff. Spring is usually pretty boring, and the film will likely find something of audience, although if it breaks 40% on the Tomatometer I'll be shocked. It just burns me to see studios throwing money away on increasingly irrelevant, meaningless sequels when there's so much they could be doing that'd be original and creative and...yeah, I'll shut up now.

Similar Titles: The Fast and the Furious, The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift, Gone in Sixty Seconds
April 3rd, 2009 (wide)
July 28th, 2009 (DVD)

Universal Pictures

Justin Lin

Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Michelle Rodriguez, Jordana Brewster, John Ortiz, Laz Alonso, Gal Gadot, Shea Whigham, Tego Calderon, Liza Lapira

Total: 189 vote(s).

Action & Adventure

Click here to view site

Rated PG-13 for for intense sequences of violence and action, some sexual content, language and drug references.

107 min





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