With both Paul Walker and Vin Diesel’s careers in somewhat of a freefall after ill-advised projects like Running Scared (which wasn’t half bad) and Babylon A.D. respectively, they both needed a return to the franchise that made them famous. In swoops Universal with a fourth entry in The Fast & The Furious series, stripping out the new cast employed in the third installment, shaving off the “The’s” off the title and reinstalling the original core cast members.

The results are marginally better than you would expect. The storyline isn’t anything special, but is a solid narrative when compared to the rest of the series. The motivation and happenstance to bring Walker’s FBI agent Brian back to face off with Diesel’s Dom seems a bit contrived from the get go, but once the fast cars and scantily clothed women begin to grace the screen once more, the story just falls by the wayside.

Walker has seemed to tone down the surfer-dude persona employed in the series’ first two installments, turning O’Conner into a more serious FBI agent who goes against the grain when necessary and has a boss who allows it, to a point. Basically the typically movie-screen agent, mulling around L.A. with a map, looking for bad guys in a non-discrete car. Dom is still the quiet type, although the script attempts to paint him as more of a quiet romantic, leaving his Mexican heist lifestyle to protect those that he loves. Dom eventually runs afoul of a big time Mexican drug dealer who is also wanted by the FBI (how quaint).

The series action is intact from the pre-credits get-go with the scene we’ve all seen in the trailers as Dom and his new crew steal gasoline trailers from a ridiculously long tractor-trailer. Eventually things blow up, cars can still fit under things, and we’re back in L.A. for more action. The film is a literal balls-to-the-walls pace with street races through the City of Angels with some of the new technology that’s come on the scene since the original’s release. There’s nods to the original ¼ race between Brian and Dom about using nitrous at the right time, but there’s very little exposition on what happened to all the supporting characters like Leon and Vince.

Fast & Furious is easily the best entry in the series and it isn’t expected to be the last after its monster opening weekend. Where the story goes from here is unknown, those who have seen Tokyo Drift (which actually happens after this film) will know Dom’s eventual fate, so will we see a sequel in a year or two? Let’s hope so, although there’s dangerously few words left in the title, hopefully Universal thinks to either add a few back in, rather than take more out.

Written by Erich Becker
Thirty-something with a love of everything we cover here, and a few things we don't. Erich has run Entertainmentopia since the site's inception in 1999, countless redesigns, a few crashes, and a lot of media later, here you have it!