Time: 107 Minutes
Age Rating: M – contains violence, offensive language and sexual references
Vin Diesel as Dominic Toretto
Paul Walker as Brian O’Conner
Michelle Rodriguez as Letty Ortiz
Jordana Brewster as Mia Toretto
John Ortiz as Ramon Campos
Gal Gadot as Gisele Yashar
Laz Alonso as Fenix Calderon
Director: Justin Lin
Dominic Toretto, an ex-convict, and an FBI agent, Brian O’Connor, wish to take down heroin importer, Arturo Braga. However, they must team up and overcome their distrust to be successful.
Compared to the other movies in the Fast and Furious franchise, I wasn’t as familiar with Fast & Furious (2009). It might’ve been the first movie from the series I watched, but that was so long ago and I barely remembered it, so I decided to check it out again. This is usually placed alongside 2 Fast 2 Furious as the worst of the franchise and having seen it I can see why, but I still enjoyed it.
The weird title implies that they were attempting a soft reboot, while having a reunion of the original Fast and Furious characters. As far as references to the previous movies go, it does have Han Lue (Sung Kang) who was in the previous movie Tokyo Drift. Otherwise, it is a continuation of the story from the first movie set 5 years later. While all the movies tied into street racing in some way, the 2009 film has something of a different story with it being about revenge. It was definitely on its way to having its shake up in approach in Fast Five. Unfortunately, the plot is pretty forgettable and isn’t particularly interesting, lacking the energy of the previous movies. Also, the plot becomes weirdly convoluted when it shouldn’t be that complicated. I feel like the key element in the Fast and Furious movies that make it stand out from just being car movies with the action being the only draw is its sincerity. That being said, the fourth movie takes itself a bit too seriously, with its considerably darker story. This doesn’t help considering that much of the movie is already silly even beyond the over the top action. A major part of the movie is how Letty (Michelle Rodrgieuz) is killed and Dom goes looking for revenge, and there’s literally a scene where he mentally recreates a crime scene which he wasn’t present for and sees her death like he’s Sherlock Holmes or something. So while I appreciate the attempt at being slightly different, it doesn’t work at being serious or fun.
The acting and characters are a bit of a mixed bag, but it was nice seeing the original Fast and Furious actors and characters reprise their roles with Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Michelle Rodriguez and Jordana Brewster. Between them, Walker’s Brian O’Conner probably gets the most development, so there’s that at least. Gal Gadot makes her first appearance in the franchise here, but doesn’t really do a whole lot, and her character of Giselle is very underdeveloped. It’s also capped off with a very forgettable antagonist played by John Ortiz.
Justin Lin returns from the last Fast and Furious movie (Tokyo Drift) to direct the fourth installment, and the film does benefit from his slick direction. The set pieces have their moments, the stunts are great, and the scenes can get tense at times. The opening sequence is quite entertaining, unfortunately nothing else in the movie is as memorable as that first scene, or even the action of the previous movies.
Fast & Furious (2009) is best described as a stepping stone movie. It is definitely important for the main story, but even with its attempt at a soft reboot, ironically its follow up movie succeeds much better. I agree that it is one of the worst in the franchise, but it still decent enough. While the plot isn’t that interesting, it is enjoyable, especially with the solid direction and entertaining and over the top action scenes. The best thing about the movie is that it led the way for Fast Five.