The Fast and the Furious (2001)

Genres - Action, Crime  |   Sub-Genres - Action Thriller, Crime Thriller  |   Release Date - Jun 22, 2001 (USA), Jun 22, 2001 (USA - Unknown)  |   Run Time - 106 min.  |   Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - PG13
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If not for its pulse-pounding last act, The Fast and the Furious might be little more than a cheeky, intentionally corny street-racing movie in the vein of '50s and '60s exploitation flicks. But what a finale: Director Rob Cohen lines up not one but three chase scenes, one after another, with only the basest of dialogue and a modicum of exposition needed to set up the fun. Cohen is not above using digital effects to enhance a scene -- even throwing in a point-of-view shot of gasoline being injected into a turbocharger -- but they never get in the way of the unadulterated, metal-on-asphalt stunts. Better yet, he wisely knows when to turn down the score and let the grunts and growls of the machines (and their respective owners) heighten the tension of a particular sequence. For their part, the actors do their best to duck and dodge the script's worst lines, which are so simplistic they occasionally threaten to break into song. The normally irrepressible Vin Diesel seems somewhat damped down here, but even still, he has no problem wresting the picture away from its ostensible lead, Paul Walker. Chosen apparently for his resemblance to Steve McQueen (he even gets his very own Ali MacGraw-like love interest, Jordana Brewster), Walker has the most venerable of exploitationer roles, that of the outsider investigating a "dangerous" subculture. And also in keeping with exploitationer tradition, he's the least interesting thing in the movie.