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Fast & Furious (Blu-ray Review)

5 Aug, 2009 By: Erik Gruenwedel

Box Office $155.1 million
$29.98 DVD, $34.98 two-DVD set, $39.98 Blu-ray
Rated ‘PG-13’ for intense sequences of violence and action, some sexual content, language and drug references.
Stars Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Jordana Brewster, Michelle Rodriguez, John Ortiz, Laz Alonso, Sung Kang, Tego Calderon, Don Omar.

On the surface, Fast & Furious would appear to be a crass Hollywood attempt to extract a few more miles and dollars from a threadbare franchise retread. Smart move considering the movie’s box office easily surpassed the theatrical haul of the 2001 original hit, The Fast and the Furious.

How? By reuniting the original cast, including wife-beater T-shirt model Vin Diesel as ex-con Dom Toretto, his daredevil girlfriend Letty (who else but slightly offbeat tomboy Michelle Rodriguez), pretty-boy Paul Walker as FBI agent Brian O’Conner and his ex-squeeze and Dom’s little sister Mia (Jordana Brewster).

All, except for Walker, had passed on sequel 2 Fast 2 Furious (2003), and The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift contained hardly any carryover from the first two movies.

On Blu-ray, Fast & Furious doesn’t disappoint with a testosterone-fueled, high-octane visual thrill ride featuring lots of exotic cars, non-stop action and central casting’s entire line-up of hot skinny Latina babes. The latter are almost enough to distract from a predictable plot (filmmakers do throw a curve in early) and mind-numbing dialogue (“Hold onto something tight,” Dom yells to Letty during an opening sequence fuel tanker heist).

The fourth installment does tie up a few loose ends, in addition to tracking down Mexican drug lord Campos (John Ortiz), for those who have followed the franchise.

In addition to BD Live functionality, the Blu-ray release offers 30-minutes of content not found on the DVD. For those couch-bound daredevils “U-Control” offers the ability to experience a virtual car garage and the feel of a street racer. There’s also a gag reel (who knew Paul Walker wasn’t funny?).

Special features (also available on standard DVD) include behind-the-scenes looks at the jaw-dropping car stunts and the surprising monotony actors endured pretending to race through dimly lit mountain tunnels (when actually just leaning left and right surrounded by green screens).

Notable is Los Bandoleros, a prequel vignette written and directed by Diesel that explains the origins of the reuniting of the Fast & Furious gang. Predominantly in Spanish with English subtitles, Bandoleros underscores the cinematic reality that Diesel has a lot more than beef under the hood.

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