Thursday, April 02, 2009

FAST & FURIOUS 4: One Helluva Ride

FAST & FURIOUS 4 (action thriller)
Starring: Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Michelle Rodriguez, Jordana Brewster, John Ortiz and Laz Alonso
Director: Justin Lin
Time: 98 mins
Rating: * * * (out of 4)

Michelle Rodriguez and Vin Diesel in F&F4

WHAT'S THE BIG DEAL? Well, the Fast & Furious franchise is never about a good script or commendable acting. It is all about how cool the stunts and crashes are, how many cars get wrecked, and how hot the chicks can get.

Yes, folks, the summer blockbusters are here, and at pole position is Fast & Furious 4!

THE PLOT: Fugitive ex-con Dom Toretto (Vin Diesel) reignites his feud with FBI agent Brian O'Conner (Paul Walker) when a crime and a death bring them back to Los Angeles. However, as they are forced to confront a common and elusive enemy known as Braga, Dom and Brian must work together if they hope to outsmart him. From convoy heists to precision tunnel crawls across international lines, the two men will find the best way to get revenge: Push the limits of what's possible behind the wheel.

THE REVIEW: F&F4 has got to be one movie with the most spectacular and exciting opening sequence. The hijack of an oil-tanker (which was the highlight of its trailer) offers such a high-octane action piece that whatever follows has to be an anti-climax. But director Justin Lin, who helmed the third-parter, Tokyo Drift, does his utmost to maintain the rubber-burning pace throughout the movie even though the urgency of the races across the Mexican border makes no sense at all.

I had not expected anything much in terms of a storyline and that's why the reunion-cum-revenge plot turns out to be such a bonus. It helps to heighten tension among the lead characters with some human melodrama. The sultry Michelle Rodriguez heats up the screen as she reprises her role as Dom's lover Letty, while Jordana Brewster provides the soft and quiet moments as Dom's sister, Mia.

The villains, played by John Ortiz and Laz Alonso, are cool and calculating too. Ditto that for the dialogue. One of the exchanges that stand out for me is when someone commented that Brian is "one lucky guy" to have been the boyfriend of Dom's sister. "Why is that?" Brian asks. "You are still breathing!" comes the reply.

Diesel and Walker have not seen much improvement in their career after the first F&F. Seeing them together again, we can appreciate their screen chemistry and the camaraderie they generate.

THE LOWDOWN: New model, Original Parts equals One Helluva Ride.


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