"Glamorizing Vicarious Thrills"
(RoRo, PaPa, HoHo, B, C, LLL, VV, S, NN, AA, D, MM) Romantic worldview with pagan elements that condones, if not glamorizes, reckless, dangerous driving, premarital sexuality & two women kissing passionately in one shot as no big deal, with some moral & redemptive elements, including one of the two main characters, who wears a crucifix, makes people pray before a meal & later receives mercy instead of justice because of mitigating circumstances & other possible romantic & Christian reasons; 48 obscenities, 5 strong profanities & 2 mild profanities; plenty of action violence, such as car crashes, car racing (most of it illegal), car chases, dangerous truck hijackings, gunfire exchanged, man murdered, man punched & forced to swallow oil, fighting, policeman shoots criminals, & ; two scenes of implied fornication, two women kiss passionately at party & other implied premarital sexual activity; partial nudity, including brief upper female nudity & women wear sexy, revealing clothes; solid alcohol use, including strong use at wild party; smoking; and, truck hijackings, policeman lets a criminal go, reckless driving, youthful rebellion & pagan partying glamorized, an apparently existentialist definition of freedom, & vigilante action rebuked.
THE FAST AND THE FURIOUS shows a young policeman going undercover into the dangerous milieu of street racing to capture a band of truck hijackers. Despite some minor redemptive elements, this uneven but slick movie condones, if not glamorizes, reckless, dangerous driving and casual sexual immorality, including passionate lesbian kissing in one scene.
THE FAST AND THE FURIOUS tries to put some life into the car racing genre by appealing to thrill-seeking, rebellious teenagers. As such, it provides plenty of vicarious thrills and vicarious rebellion for its audience, but not much else. Still, it’s another notch in the belt for actor Vin Diesel (SAVING PRIVATE RYAN and PITCH BLACK), who’s poised to become the next action star/sex symbol once he finds a better property. Diesel fills the big screen with a kinetic, no-nonsense presence, but Hollywood has yet to take full advantage of his persona. A more cohesive script would help. So would a better performance from his co-star, Paul Walker, who plays a young policeman going undercover.
Director Rob Cohen tries to tell too many stories in THE FAST AND THE FURIOUS. The movie opens with three fast black cars, helmed by anonymous drivers with motorcycle helmets, hijacking a truck full of electronics products. The story then shifts to Brian O’Connor, a young man who’s fighting with another man, Vince, over Mia, the sister of Diesel’s character, Dominic Toretto.
Brian is eager to join the outlaw sub-culture of street racing which Dominic rules like a strutting rock star. As Brian begins to gain Dominic’s confidence and friendship, the movie reveals that Brian is actually a cop who’s undercover to solve a series of big-rig hijackings like the one in the movie’s opening scene. Brian, however, begins to bond not only with Mia, but also with Dominic, a prime suspect in the hijackings. As the pressure to wrap up the hijacking case intensifies, Brian must decide where his loyalties lie and what his limits really are.
The story of THE FAST AND THE FURIOUS falls back on too many summer movie cliches. Instead of focusing on the street racing milieu as its advertising suggests, the movie gives viewers a silly, formulaic story about a young cop going undercover and the misunderstood ex-convict he befriends. The movie plays this story by the numbers. Thus, as the affection between Brian and Mia and the friendship between Brian and Dominic grow, Brian’s emotions start affecting his judgment, and his friendly boss, played by Ted Levine, starts confronting Brian about this. This contrived story seems like something out of an episode from a cheap TV cop show and is not worthy of a major motion picture. The only relief to this, including Paul Walker’s lukewarm performance as Brian, is the story involving Vien Diesel’s complicated character, Dominic. Even that story, however, succumbs to a hokey speech about freedom.
Furthermore, there are too many stories and premises surrounding the character of Brian, the undercover policeman. First, there is the romantic triangle between Brian, Dominic’s sister, Mia, and Vince, who’s part of Dominic’s racing “team.” Then, there is the story involving Brian’s undercover investigation into the hijackings, where Brian’s feelings interfere with his judgment. Next, there is the story involving Brian’s participation in the street races, which is supposed to culminate in a big drag race in the desert called Race Wars. The movie leaves that story completely hanging, even though it seems more interesting than the others because it involves the secret world of street racing which the movie uses to attract viewers. Finally, there is the story of the developing friendship, potential rivalry between Brian and Dominic, which ends in a morally ambiguous way.
THE FAST AND THE FURIOUS seems to have a romantic worldview and contains some pagan elements. It condones, if not glamorizes, reckless, dangerous driving and casual premarital sexuality. It also resolves a conflict between Brian and Dominic in a morally ambiguous way at the end. On the one hand, the resolution of this conflict is a romantic one because it involves a major romantic theme in the movie, the need for maintaining freedom while avoiding bad consequences. On the other hand, the resolution is a redemptive or even Christian one because it involves an act of mercy and forgiveness. In this respect, it is interesting to note that Dominic often wears a crucifix around his neck, which he hangs over his shirts in plain view of everyone. At one point in the movie, Dominic makes everyone pray before a meal, but the person who leads the prayer says a really vague one. These redemptive elements are doubly interesting when you consider the redemptive themes in Vin Diesel’s last major movie, PITCH BLACK.
THE FAST AND THE FURIOUS also contains plenty of foul language, brief nudity and a shot where two women kiss passionately at a party. Like the other examples of objectionable content in this movie, these things encourage immoral imitative behavior among young people. Concerned parents should therefore be extremely wary.
In THE FAST AND THE FURIOUS, Paul Walker plays Brian, a young undercover policeman investigating a series of truck hijackings. The investigation leads him to the illegal world of high-performance street racing. He joins this subculture by getting chummy with the sister of one of his prime suspects, Dominic, played by the charismatic Vin Diesel, the star of last year’s science fiction monster movie, PITCH BLACK. Brian, however, begins to bond not only with Mia but also with Dominic, a prime suspect in the hijackings. As the pressure to wrap up the hijacking case intensifies, Brian must decide where his loyalties lie and what his limits are. Despite some minor redemptive elements, THE FAST AND THE FURIOUS condones, if not glamorizes, reckless, dangerous driving and casual premarital sexuality. Although slickly photographed, it also has an over-complicated, formulaic, hokey script. Furthermore, Paul Walker’s acting fails to match Vin Diesel’s intensity. THE FAST AND THE FURIOUS also contains plenty of foul language, brief nudity and a shot where two women kiss passionately. Like the other examples of objectionable content, these things encourage immoral imitative behavior among young people. Concerned parents should therefore be extremely wary.