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Fast & Furious (2009) Print E-mail
Thursday, 16 July 2009
ImageOkay, first things first.  Let's settle the name confusion.  This saga consists of four titles.  The first in the series was "THE Fast AND THE Furious."  The second was "2 Fast 2 Furious."  The third was THE Fast AND THE Furious: Tokyo Drift."  And finally, the fourth installment released earlier this year is Fast AND Furious."  It is confusing to define movie title by definite articles.  The initial success of the 2001 film spawned two sequels.  And now, fans finally get the original cast back for the 2009 edition of the saga.  However, the wait may not have been worth it.

I'm sure a great many of filmgoers are going to see the suped-up cars.  However, there still needs to be a pleasing story and that is lacking for "Fast & Furious."  The film has a promising beginning with a quite spectacular trucking heist by Dom, Letty and a couple newcomers.  However, it is downhill from there.  There are certain things I can't reveal so as not to spoil some plots, but let's just say you will want to bang the writers' heads with a frying pan about 17 minutes into the film.

Dom (Vin Diesel) returns, still a fugitive from the law.  He is hopping among island nations.  Back in Los Angeles Brian O'Connor (Paul Walker) has been recruited by the FBI.  Important to note that the film doesn't really take into account the fact that there were two sequels to the first film.  It is now about five years after the first film takes place.  Whether the two sequels take place before or after this new film is unknown.

When a murder of someone close takes place, Dom returns to the states to exact his revenge.  Meanwhile O'Connor is trying to get in with the racing crowd in order to bust one of the largest drugs dealers.  His and Dom's paths eventually cross and both are recruited into the inner circle.  When things go south after the first drug run across the US/Mexico border, Dom and Brian put aside their differences and team up.  In exchange Dom is supposedly to get immunity for his past crimes.

Dom's sister, Mia (Jordana Brewster) comes and goes throughout the film.  She unfortunately brings nothing to the table but some feminine presence in an otherwise largely male driven film.

So what about the cars?  Well I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but the cars are not highlighted a whole lot as they were in the first and third films.  There are some nice shots of a Gran Torino but that is about it.  As for the car chase and racing, the cinematography is not very pleasing either.  Unlike the excellent cinematography of the Tokyo Drift film, the framing of this film does allow very much time to absorb any eye candy.

Justin Lin, director of the Tokyo Drift film returns to direct this film.  Also returning to this film is the writer, Chris Morgan.  Unfortunately, neither one makes as good as a film as Tokyo Drift.  Even still, there are some shiny moments in the story.  However, for the most part it is unoriginal.  It feels as if it is another payday for each of the actors.  This is more like a reunion film. The video quality of the Tokyo Drift film was impressive.  I expected nothing less from the same filmmakers for this film.  While the video quality is not poor, it is definitely not up to par for a film of such a budget.  Most disturbing is the darkness of the film.  Details get lost in half the screen for the entire film.  It is seems as if the film was intentionally shot half dark, half light in order to represent the duality of man.  If that is the case, well it doesn't work.  If it is the transfer then it is even worse.  Close up facial shots consistently display one eyeball and one black spot where a second eye should be.  Other than that the transfer is smooth.  The colors are stable, although not very vibrant.  There is no film grain issue.  The source print is immaculate.  There may have been a spot or two.  Edge enhancement also doesn't appear to be an issue.  Black levels are stable but not overly deep.  Shadow delineation is rather poor.  This is a good transfer but not as good as one would expect.

The audio is presented in DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1.  The audio quality is also very good, but not quite fully there.  The quality falls just short as compared to Tokyo Drift.  The panning is not entirely seamless.  Car-bys sometimes jump from one channel to another.  The LFE channel is a bit shallow and usually most prominent during the playing of hip-hop.  The dialogue is strong but lacks the ultimate clarity.  The entire track lacks a little on the brightness side.  The dynamics range is pretty consistent.  Surround channels are engaging, but not entirely convincing.  Ambience is present in the rear channels, but doesn't always match the atmosphere.  Spatialization in the front is rather center heavy.  Don't get me wrong, I am not picking about some of these things, but it is enough to keep it from perfection.

The bonus material package of the disc mainly consists of a bunch of little featurettes.  First, there is an audio commentary with director Justin Lin.  The track is fairly informative, but is probably for fans only.  The U-Control section contains, "Take Control" and "Virtual Car Garage."  The "Take Control" section contains a visual commentary by Paul Walker and Justin Lin for select scenes.  The "Virtual Car Garage" section allows you to view technical specifications on cars used in the film.  "Under the Hood: Muscle Cars" and "Under the Hood: Imports" are two featurettes that obviously look at the cars in the film.  "Los Bandoleros" is the short film upon which the film is based.  This is a great short film that was directed by Vin Diesel that gives us insight into the characters and events leading up to this film.  "Getting the Gang Back Together" is exactly what the titles implies.  "Driving School with Vin Diesel" is a brief look at stunt driving.  "Races and Chases" looks at the compositions of sequences.  "Shooting the Big Rig Heist" analyzes the specific sequence of the film's opening.  "High Octane Action: The Stunts" is a stunt featurette.  "South of the Border" looks at filming in Mexico.  The disc also includes a Gag Reel, a music video for "Blanco," and a BD-Live section that includes my scenes sharing, commentary sharing, and video mash-up section contain special bonus content.  The package also includes a Digital Copy of the film.

"Fast & Furious" is a decent attempt at reviving the car sensation saga.  However, after the drifting footage shown in the previous film, "Fast & Furious leaves you a bit unsatisfied.  The story is alright, but not all that terribly interesting.  Both the video and audio quality are more than decent but definitely not as good as the format has to offer.

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