The problem with agreeing to do something is that, at some point, the people you made the promise to will expect you to do the thing you said you were going to do. In my case, I agreed to review films on an iPod, even if they include things like Fast & Furious. I really didn’t want to watch this movie, but I was obliged. I can’t help thinking that’s probably how the stars of Fast & Furious felt after they’d signed their respective contracts to star in it.
This is the fourth instalment in the series, and it sees the original cast from the first movie reunited. Paul Walker’s back, as are Vin Diesel, Jordana Brewster and Michelle Rodriguez, although one in that list isn’t in it for very long, since the whole film revolves around the fact that she gets murdered.
For Diesel and Walker, this is clearly a chance for them to get their careers back on track, because neither of them has done particularly well since The Fast And The Furious. So, in true Sylvester Stallone style, they’ve returned to one of their early successes hoping to recapture a bit of the old magic and remind the world what they’re all about.
In Diesel’s case, he’s all about mumbling his lines in a gruff baritone and carrying out various acts of violence while wearing a white vest and being bald (clearly, he’s a big Ross Kemp fan). Walker, meanwhile, is far more charismatic and, despite some horridly macho and unnatural dialogue, he does a pretty good job. Brewster is just pretty, but other than that is largely forgettable as Vin Diesel’s sister.
As previously mentioned, Rodriguez’s character is murdered, and her boyfriend (Diesel) is, naturally, a bit miffed, so he vows to take down whoever carried out this heinous act. “Grr..,” he says, “Bad guys done killed my woman,” before packing as many white vests as he can and setting out to put right what once went wrong. Or something like that.
Not that it matters, really. These films have never been about much more than cars, women and women on cars. To be fair, the first half hour or so is actually fairly motor-free, but once things get going, it’s pure petrol-head porn. There’s even a line in there somewhere about cars and women and their admiring their ‘bodywork’. Classic.
In spite of its many shortcomings, though, Fast & Furious is ably directed and, despite hating cars, films about cars and car chases in films, I was nevertheless mildly entertained. If you’re into motor vehicles moving fast, crashing into each other and exploding, then you’ll love this.
As for how it does on an iPod screen, it’s absolutely fine except for one quite major problem: subtitles. At various points in the movie, people speak in Spanish, and the video file contains hard-coded subtitles for this. Unfortunately, if you’re watching the movie fullscreen, you lose the edges, and therefore some of the subtitles. This isn’t a problem that’s restricted to portables, and can be remedied by zooming out into letterbox. However, if you do that on an iPod, the subs are barely visible, which is far from ideal. Still, at least it makes it harder to see the glare of Vin Diesel’s shiny, round head.