The Fast And The Furious IS Point Break.
That right there isn’t a matter of opinion, it’s a stone cold statement of fact that’s not even up for the slightest of debates.
It’s as plain as the nose on your face; the righteous dude of an undercover officer getting seduced by a gang who frequent an adrenalin fueled sub-culture and it’s charismatic, criminal and yet oddly soulful leader? C’mon guys, swapping surfboards for subwoofers isn’t fooling anyone. But it’s not the virtual retreading of the plot of Katherine Bigelow’s ode to machismo that helped this movie blossom into the multi billion franchice it is today. No, it’s the zeitgeist bating style that endeared it to the general public and Max Power readers alike (anyone out there actually remember Max Power by the way?).
Gorgeous undercover cop Brian O’Connor (great hero name, there) is trying to infiltrate a gang who jack trucks for their loads on the road – hijacking DVD players from trucks maybe a step down from being globe trotting super-spies who routinely level two thirds of any city they happen to be in but you gotta start somewhere – and falls in with Dominic Toretto; a supernova of a magnetic personality and his posse of car racing speed junkies and then also starts having eyes for Toretto’s sister. While both falling for her, an inevitable bromance with Dom who seemingly doesn’t own a single shirt thats actually his size AND the life of a car racing outlaw, Brian desperately tries to balance his cop loyalties with his new family.
It’s not the second-hand story that sells the film though, it’s director Rob Cohen’s eye for the shiny and sparkling world that entices Brian so. Sun kissed fenders, endless barbecues and Coronas and stunning lines on both the cars and some of the cast were somewhat of a revelation back in the noughties. I’ve never been much of a petrol head but even I can admit sexy cars are sexy, and yes, girls with big bootys in microscopic jean shorts, while being admittedly easy on the eyes, are as progressive as a Carry On movie but at least the film also seasons it’s male cast with pretty boys and muscle men. Speaking of which, it’s all wonderfully homoerotic too (as a Point Break ripoff should be), watch as Dom and Brian flick each other a lingering stare as they hurtle down a street during the final race off just before Dom’s muscle car does a flip that’s worthy of an Olympic gold in gymnastics.
Cohen also has a rare eye for the street racing scenes too, having the camera whip through the combustion engine as the backgrounds blur like a Japanese cartoon, he is savvy enough when to drop the remotest pretence of reality when dealing with a world this ripe for coolness. The action is pretty sweet too, especially an extended high-speed robbery gone wrong, although once again it’s a little strange that a group that goes on to harpoon an airplane and go head to head with a submarine would struggle with a single truck driver armed with a shotgun… oh well.
The dialogue may be horribly dated and frequently borderline idiotic (“What’s up with this fool, he sandwich crazy or something?” is one such near miss at Shakespeare) but it quickly becomes apparent that Vin Diesel, Paul Walker and Michelle Rodriguez are all stars, are all horribly likeable and carry themselves as such.
While it’s ironic that a movie about illegal car racing has absolutely no intention to reinvent the wheel, The Fast And The Furious not only is ground zero to the biggest action franchise in movie history but is a neat little ripoff that manages to stand on it’s own two feet while managing to live it’s life a quarter mile at a time.