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Director: Rob Cohen
Producer: Neal H. Moritz
Written by: Gary Scott Thompson, Erik Bergquist, David Ayer; from a magazine article by Ken Li
Cast: Vin Diesel, Michelle Rodriguez, Paul Walker, Jordana Brewster, Rick Yune

Rating: out of 5

THE FAST AND THE FURIOUS is set in the world of underground LA street-racing circuit. It follows the summer movie formula, focusing on action and de-emphasizing things like character development or storyline.

The movie opens with a loud and unrealistic hijacking of a semi by three Honda Civics with unknown drivers. Apparently this sort of thing has gotten out of hand, so the Fed send undercover agent Brian Spindler (Walker) to find the criminal mastermind behind it all. Brian quickly befriends master street racer Dominic Toretto (Diesel) and motor mayhem ensues, leading to the film's lame conclusion.

The weakest link is the narcing-for-the-Feds story of the undercover cop with divided loyalties. This has been done many times before, and much better (See DEEP COVER. In fact, please do see DEEP COVER.) Also this story requires a lead actor with skillz to gain sympathy from the audience and let them see the world through his confused eyes, precisely what Paul Walker doesn't have. All too often the camera pans across his face while he is trying to do... something. Maybe he's trying to act. These problems may have been forgivable if the movie had an explosive shoot-out/car chase at the conclusion to wrap up the loose ends, but the end of the movie is among the most unsatisfactory ever. None of the major conflicts are resolved.

Despite its glaring flaws, the movie has some redeeming points. Vin Diesel (PITCH BLACK) is a badass as always, as is his girlfriend, Michelle Rodriguez (GIRLFIGHT). Most importantly, the cars look and sound incredible. This is a very loud movie. When engines aren't revving to 1000s of RPMs, gangster rap blares from every direction.

The race sequences are an intense ride-exactly what car fiends and adrenaline junkies are looking for. This movie could have been better served with more car racing and the entire omission of the undercover cop angle.

THE FAST AND THE FURIOUS has to be seen in theaters. Recommended only for die-hard Vin Diesel fanatics and people who love chrome engine parts.

-Woodrow Bogucki

hybridCinema Ratings Guide:

Take a pal and pay full price for both tickets.

Itís worth a full-price ticket.

Itís worth a matinee ticket.

Wait for video rental.

Check out the video from the library, if you must.

While we would never encourage anyone to destroy a video...

Mike Doughty

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