Saturday, September 18, 2010
Now let me say, this isn't a proper film review, plus I think a lot of people have already seen this movie, so I won't summarize it. But I will pose some of the major questions this film left me scratching my head over. The main one being:
1. What on Earth is the moral of this story?
I think we're supposed to admire Vin Diesel's character, Dom, because his dad died…but he's still the ringleader of the criminal gang that the undercover cop main character, Brian, is trying to infiltrate. In the end, the cop lets the criminal get away. So the main character isn't a very good cop. It's tough to know if Brian lets Dom go because a) he admires him, b) is in love with his sister or c) I don't really understand if he's actually a cop or if it's part of his own sentence-reducing legal bargain.
2. Who are we rooting for?
It's not the innocent people. The only people in this film just trying to do their jobs are the truck drivers that Dom's gang are hijacking in order to steal their cargo of flashy 2001 state of the art electronics. But you're totally not supposed to cheer for the driver as he's attempting to defend himself by fighting back in the big finale chase scene at the end of the movie. You're supposed to cheer for the crims, because they can drive their cars right under the semi! Snap!
3. What was up with the Japanese bike gang?
Were they a red herring to keep us from thinking Dom was behind the crime? If so, it worked. Not just on me, but on Brian, the undercover cop. As I said, he wasn't a very good cop…he followed the wrong lead then let the real criminals get away, and the movie ends before we find out if he's punished for this. Anyhow, the Japanese bike gang members were pure evil, but they didn't really need to be in the film.
4. Who played Vince? He was a fox!
And actually, it was a very watchable movie. It didn't adhere to any of my writerly criteria for admirable characters or core story morals, but it was full of cool car stunts and biceps and an appropriately grindy soundtrack. Note to any sequel makers: don't add that tinkly piano music in the poignant scenes of any forthcoming follow-up films. It's really cheesy à là Full House.
5. So…what happened with the big race?
This movie started out as the man equivalent of a teen girl dance-off movie, and they built up this big race weekend event toward the end, but we never see a big race! Instead they run off to jack some more electronics. I felt like I'd watched a version of Grease wherein Sandy doesn't attend the Vince Fontaine show taping, or Dirty Dancing without the lift at the end. Flat and confusing.
6. What's the big deal about Vin Diesel?
Well, I sort of get it now. He's very muscly and blasé in that alluringly over-it way, and his voice makes you imagine him barking you orders at you, ones that involve knee pads. He oozes something or other that does things to lady-bits, and I think it's about 50% aural, 40% visual, and 10% unidentified charismatic voodoo. And he's really a decent actor. So okay, ladies, I submit, he's sexy. But he's no Matt Schulze.
Can anyone guess who'll be spotlighted on Thrusty Thursday this week?
So in conclusion (not that I had a point) I enjoyed this movie. But I still don't get what I was supposed to take away from it. The manfriend suggested the moral of the story was, "There is true justice when the criminal walks free." He said this with airs of deep Zen wisdom, because he knows as well I do, there was no lesson in this movie. The protagonist was a lousy cop and not such an amazing racer that we can admire him for his driving chops. Everyone seems to like Dom, but he's a violent criminal with daddy issues who doesn't get taught a lesson in the end. My take-away wisdom was, "Don't live near these people. They're loud and there's Japanese yuppy bike gangs what will spray you with automatic machine gun fire."
But do watch this movie for cool stunts, random acts of manfulness, Matt Schulze in sleeveless shirts, and for all the questions it will leave you pondering. If you get Netflix, you can watch it for free on Instant Watcher here. Or raid the DVD collection of your favorite teenage boy. And if you know any better answers to my various questions, for the love of God, please share them.
For now, here's the trailer: