An undercover cop is investigating a series of truck heists performed by a streetcar gang. But when he falls for the girlfriend of the prime suspect his loyalties are tested.
Point Break on wheels is the succinct description of this action movie set in the world of illegal motor racing. Sadly it fails to fully replicate that film's success as, despite a couple of well orchestrated car chases, it never gets out of first gear. Part of the problem is the lack of criminal activity, cop Brian O'Conner is supposed to be investigating a tough gang behind a local crime wave large enough to involve the FBI, but the heists are so few and far between that it's easy to forget why he is hanging out with these guys.
No one is going to watch this for deep characterisation and meaningful dialogue but it's in these areas that the film also falters. None of the characters are particularly memorable or interesting, Paul Walker's cop caught in a moral quandary is just dull and, despite the charismatic presence of Vin Diesel, the bad guys are equally forgettable. It seems obvious that all the important stuff like story came secondary to the action scenes.
Director Rob Cohen utilises a few CGI tricks to pep up the car chases, and some certainly deserve the moniker high octane. Regrettably the really innovative action scenes occur at the start and end of the film, the rest is a mix of slightly repetitive races and the odd shoot out. Cutting about 20 minutes from the movie would have resulted in a tighter, slicker piece of B grade entertainment more in keeping with the Hot Rod movies of the past, to which this film is indebted.
To argue that The Fast and the Furious is derivative is probably pointless; it's a loud dumb action movie with an undeniable appeal considering fans have been treated to a handful of sequels. To be fair it does what its title suggests in a rather basic way, providing undemanding teenage boys with a polished blend of fast cars, fast girls and fast music. As for the rest of us, fans would probably say "you're just too old daddio."