Fast and the Furious, The

Stars:   Paul Walker, Vin Diesel, Michelle Rodriguez, Jordana Brewster, Rick Yune
Director:    Rob Cohen
Writers:   Gary Scott Thompson and David Ayer; based on a screen story by Gary Scott Thompson

The Fast and The Furious is formula 101 in the film department. Flashy fast cars, skimpily-clad babes and a loud soundtrack fill a minimal story that’s predictable from start to finish.

Paul Walker plays Brian O’Conner, an unlikely pretty-boy undercover cop out to connect an illegal street racing gang to a daring truck hijacking ring. His target is Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel), the fast and furious leader who wins every street race in Los Angeles and beyond. Dom surrounds himself with a number of jacked up goons, a sleazy girlfriend (Michelle Rodriguez as Letty) and one wholesome sister (Jordana Brewster as Mia).

Of course, when Brian decides to infiltrate the group, he first weasels his way into the good graces of the lovely Mia. Then he shows off good racing skills in order to gain Dominic’s respect. What follows is lots of male bonding around car hoods and tires until Brian goes off to his bosses to fill them in on his investigation while they threaten him with losing his job for not working fast enough.

The cars take center stage at speeds hovering 180mph. There’s minor romance between Brian and Mia and a subplot involving a rival Asian gang which offers some good shoot-em-ups. The best action sequences, however, entail the truck hijackings as criminals in souped up cars zigzag their way in front of, behind and even under the big rigs in order to subdue the driver and steal the cargo.

Lotta says it’s the kind of action kids will like. As far as the story goes, it’s message seems to be it’s okay to be bad if you have a sorry tale to tell … because someone good will probably give you a break.

Reviewed 1/2/02