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The Frowning and the Furious 4

Movie title: The Fast and the Furious 4 (2009)
Spoilers ahead: No

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There’s one thing you can be certain of when watching any in the series of The Fast and the Furious—the story will invariably boil down to a street race. Not a single series has been made with a more predictable plot in all of filmdom. That’s what you have…men between the ages of 20 and 40 settling disagreements or initiating members via illegal street races like a tenth-grader in his first V8 Mustang. Only in The Fast and the Furious (F&F) can instances of reckless disregard for human life be as common as clouds while watchful traffic cops are nowhere to be found when they are most needed.

What you get in this, the fourth installment of the F&F series, is a straight-up improvement from certain earlier films, i. e. Tokyo Drift—an insultingly cheesy put-on at best. The death-defying stunts and adrenaline-pumping car chases you only wish you could pull off come standard with all F&F models. They are found here in abundance, but featured slightly more is the story.

Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) is back. Now an international fugitive, the search for a common enemy has him crossing paths with Brian O’Connor (Paul Walker), a get-things-done FBI agent who knows Toretto all too well. Working together to reach their respective goals, the streets of Los Angeles and the Mexican desert will be the battlegrounds in the race to take down a dangerous drug cartel.

The story is not without its problems. In addition to buffed-out Vin easily punching and elbowing through windows like the sugar glass that we shouldn’t know they’re made of, and jumping from speeding car to speeding car in a fashion that physics just can’t agree with, it is never exactly clear why a powerfully successful drug-lord needs to recruit street-racers to compete to be selected to make drug runs. It doesn’t even make sense if you think about it. Wouldn’t such a figure know that his type of lucrative business calls for secrecy and loyalty and that always-valuable commodity of being able to smuggle goods, not the ability to burn rubber on asphalt? Oh no…that Nissan Skyline bellowing down the freeway at 150 mph…no, that won’t attract suspicion from the authorities!

But that’s not what F&F is about. It’s about racing fans, usually kids with full heads of hair who soup up their Honda Civics by putting mufflers on them that are too big for the cars themselves. It’s about tough guys being tough guys, with their buff-ness and tight shirts, while hotties work the testosterone-filled rooms, as bright lights bounce off the hoods of shiny, souped-up hotrods. What’s the harm in liking that? It’s guy stuff, young guy stuff. It takes time (and a few tickets) to get the racing bug out of your system. I’ve been there.

All-round, there’s not much character development, and the drama is light enough to fill a balloon. Just enjoy the ride. The entire story is merely scaffolding to get to the juvenilic craving to put the rubber to the road anyway. You’ll have to forgive the thousand-yard stares and enough frowns for Terminator auditions, but otherwise, you have a perfectly respectable machismo movie.

(JH)

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Grade: C- (2 stars)
Rated: PG-13
Summation: Brian O'Conner teams up with Dominic Toretto to work with the feds to bring down a heroin importer.
Director: Justin Lin
Starring: Vin Diesel “Dominic Toretto,” Paul Walker “Brian O'Conner,” Jordana Brewster “Mia Toretto,” Michelle Rodriguez “Letty,” John Ortiz “Campos,” Laz Alonso “Fenix Rise,” Gal Gadot “Gisele Harabo”
Genre: Action

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