After reinvigorating the franchise with The Fast and The Furious: Tokyo Drift, director Justin Lin was rewarded with original stars Paul Walker and Vin Diesel. The result, Fast & Furious, is a combination of kinetic filmmaking and hulking charisma that can only be called bro bliss.
The movie opens with Dominic Toretto (Diesel) and his team up to their old antics, hijacking a gas tanker on a dangerous mountain road. The result is a spectacular explosion, with emphasis on the spectacular. Later, after the loss of one of his cohorts, Dom infiltrates a drug lord’s racing crew in a covert attempt at vengeance. It’s there that he runs into Brian O’Conner (Walker), doing something similar, except on behalf of the police. So the former adversaries find themselves once again forced to work together, blurring the lines between good cop and bad in order to achieve a common goal.
This perennial theme – of the cop and robber as two sides of the same coin – has always been a part of the franchise, but here it has the sort of juiciness usually associated with Hong Kong action thrillers like Drug War and Infernal Affairs. Walker and Diesel have weathered into their parts in a way that makes their characters’ rivalry something more than genre posturing. When they sit across each other while being interviewed by the drug lord’s henchman for the driving job, bristling with competition, there’s a deliciousness to the way they both pause before answering his question, “Do you two know each other?”
There’s also something thrilling about the final moments, filmed by Lin with accelerated zooms, as if the camera had its own NOS canister. I won’t give away the details, but suffice it to say that after more than two hours of swerving among identities, the last seconds of Fast & Furious find O’Conner changing lanes and pushing 150 on the dark side.