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'Fast': Leaving Logic in the Dust

By Rita Kempley
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, June 22, 2001


    'The Fast and the Furious' Vin Diesel and Paul Walker in "The Fast and the Furious." (Universal)
"The Fast and the Furious" is "Rebel Without a Cause" without a cause. The young and the restless with gas fumes. The quick and the dead with skid marks.

This movie is all about what's under the hood, bro. More to the point – pop-psychology-wise – it's about guys looking under each other's hoods. There's nothing in this world like impressing another dude with your fuel injector. This is macho bonding at 9,000 revs.

And if you think the cars are fast, meet the booty. Every heavy-pedaler wears a garland of freaky hotties, all of whom get off on the gear-grinding phenomenon of the outlawed street-racing scene. In other words, this is a most excellent film for 12-year-olds and those who are 12 at heart.

It's about an FBI agent who goes undercover to find out which street-racing gang is hijacking trucks.

Former drag racers will wax nostalgic as the drivers lovingly wax their meticulously detailed, souped-up muscle machines. (Let's hope that no kid winds up like a bug on a windshield for attempting one of the movie's spectacularly staged stunts, like changing lanes by driving under a truck.)

But this movie isn't just about reckless speed demons and their garter-belted groupies. It's about young men (and one woman) who have, like, issues that can be worked out only on the surprisingly desolate streets of Los Angeles. In one case, a computer whiz kid was never able to go to MIT because he suffers from attention-deficit disorder.

Though these homicidal cretins cruise the highways in roaring, squealing, glistening chariots by the hundreds, the LAPD can't seem to arrest them or stop their illegal races. And that's before they start hijacking the big rigs and making off with the goods. Desperate measures are called for.

Enter the FBI. What a brain trust. Although the illegal street-racing community is made up almost exclusively of minorities as portrayed here – the bureau assigns the blue-eyed, blond Brian (Paul Walker) to go undercover, befriend the tribe and crack the case. To that end, Brian demonstrates his skills behind the wheel and soon wins the trust of Dom (Vin Diesel), an ex-con who is the undisputed king of the road hogs.

Intermittently, Brian reports to his supervisors, who are headquartered in a former star's home, where they discuss strategy over iced cappuccino. Decaf.

The next thing you know, the gorgeous hero is invited to a party at Dom's house. The host offers Brian a beer: "It's a Corona or nothing," he quips. (What company wouldn't want its product associated with psycho hooligans?) Brian searches in vain for a lime . . . not really, but that would be more surprising than the plot's obvious turns.

Raise your hands if you think Dom will discover that Brian is an undercover cop. How many think Dom would offer Brian a Corona then?

"The Fast and the Furious" (101 minutes, at area theaters) is rated PG-13 for sexual content and language.


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