The Critics: ‘Fast & Furious’

Travel Blog  •  Eva Holland  •  04.09.09 | 10:29 AM ET

Publicity still via IGN

When I listed Fast & Furious as one of my travel movies to watch for in 2009, I have to admit that my tongue might have been straying towards my cheek. I certainly never expected that the movie—the fourth installment in a fading franchise—would smash box office records and enjoy the biggest April weekend opening ever. But with an unexpected $70 million (and counting) in the bank, I suppose the movie qualifies as a phenomenon of sorts. With that in mind, I decided to check it out and see if there were any vicarious travel thrills to be had in between all the lingering shots of hot (auto) bodies.

First, a few thoughts from critics more concerned with filmmaking than armchair travel. The Globe and Mail’s Stephen Cole sets the scene: “This time out, Brian is an FBI guy looking to put away a Mexican drug lord whose crew took out Dom’s girl. Being fast and furious, they both want revenge. Now. But they have to race through a mountain (there’s a tunnel) to penetrate the drug lord’s south-of-the-border lair. There are also qualifying heats: To get a job as drug mules, Brian and Dom must win L.A. street races.”

Paste Magazine calls Fast & Furious “an overgrown parody of the first three movies combined,” while Salon’s Stephanie Zacharek likens the movie to “an imitation Hot Wheels that comes in the same kind of blister pack as the original and features lettering in approximately the same typeface, only it’s called Fast Wheels, and it’s the thing your clueless-if-well-meaning parents come home with when what you want with all your heart is the real thing.”

Ouch. So, even by the standards of the series, most critics see the latest go-round as a dud. But how about those vicarious travel thrills?

The movie jumps from the Dominican Republic to Panama to Los Angeles, and then back and forth over the California-Mexico border—and, with the exception of the scenes in Panama, it was actually shot on location. Sadly, though, all three countries rush past in a blur of dried-out hills and dirt roads. There are a couple of street scenes that offer a hint of local flavor, and an old Mexican church gets some screen time, too, but for the most part the movie could be set anywhere.

You could, I suppose, make an argument for “Fast & Furious” as a road trip movie—it certainly made me want to jump in a car and hit the gas pedal—but the trouble is, I never got a chance to look out the window.

Eva Holland is co-editor of World Hum. She is a former associate editor at Up Here and Up Here Business magazines, and a contributor to Vela. She's based in Canada's Yukon territory.

No comments for The Critics: ‘Fast & Furious’.

Commenting is not available in this weblog entry.