The plot: Our saga begins. Hot young LAPD cop Brian O’Conner (Paul Walker) goes undercover in the Los Angeles street racing scene to find the group responsible for a series of truck hijackings (using three highly modified Honda Accords, harpoons and a Wile E. Coyote-esque sense of adventure). Brian gets in close with a group led by Dom (Vin Diesel), but when he falls for Dom’s sister, Mia (Jordana Brewster), his loyalties become tested. Things are also further complicated when he goes from grudging respect to blossoming bromance with Dom.
Brian is introduced to the underground racer scene, where he immediately get’s owned by Dom, losing a car in the process in every way you can lose a car (he raced Dom for pink slips to prove his worth, and turns out that these cars don’t react well to being shot up by rival gang members). Owing Dom a “10-second car (a car that will run a quarter-mile in 10 seconds), Brian goes to work for him, trying to get deeper into his world, so to speak.
We’re also introduced to the concept of nitrous oxide (NOS) in automotive racing. Not to go into the science of it too deep (basically, it allows more gas to get into the pistons, which causes an increase in horsepower and a decrease in gas milage, one supposes), but suffice to say NOS is to cars as spinach is to Popeye, complete with fiery exhaust.
Is Dom the leader of the Accord Gang? Can Brian get the girl and still get his job done? Does nitrous oxide really make that much a difference in a car’s speed? Isn’t there an easier way to hijack a truck?
Spoiler alert: Yes. No. Maybe. Probably.
Many candy-colored cars are destroyed, and a bit of scenery is chewed, but, for my money, it’s still a pretty good time. Cars go fast. Pretty people drive furiously. That’s pretty much what we signed up for, and it is delivered. I wish there were five more movies like it, with a sixth one in the pipe.
Thoughts on The Fast and the Furious:
• The movie is a lot like the cars at the center of it all: loud, fast, bright and colorful and filled with stuff that is mostly unnecessary, put still pretty to look at.
• You gotta wonder what do these kids do to afford tens of thousands of dollars of high-tech auto parts? Do they all hijack trucks?
• If you try to go under a semi tractor trailer as they do in this film, update your will and take your head shots while you still have one.
• Using the “Fast and Furious” method of truck hijacking requires a lot of cooperation from the truck driver. After harpooning the truck, the hiackers use the cables to scurry to the vehicle from their own Honda Accords. If the driver would brake or speed up, the would-be hijacker would be street pizza in short order. Also, legally, I think the truck driver would be in fine shape; after all, they just harpooned his truck.
• Paul Walker’s character, Brian O’Conner, must have graduated from the same law enforcement school as Keanu Reeves’ character, Johnny Utah, in Point Break. If not, I bet they had a similar class schedule.
• This is one of Michelle Rodriguez’s first roles, before she would go on to piss everyone off in “Lost” and be removed in fairly short order. She does throw a convincing punch, though.
• You know Dom’s sister, Mia (Jordana Brewster) is a good girl because she wears modest clothing (at least for the cultural norms), she doesn’t hijack trucks, and drives sensibly except when a family member is in trouble or she’s taking part in a mating ritual.