A movie about cars, undercover cops, midnight rallies, more cars, racing lords, meaty machismo...at least the title fits.
Brian (Paul Walker) drives a very fast car - a Mitsubishi Eclipse, a part of the vast empire of imported street cars that have created a whole new sub-culture of car enthusiasts in America. These cars are fitted with elaborate accessories, with the prize booty being high-powered fuel injections that make these machines furiously fast "Rice Rockets".
Brian challenges reigning racing king Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) in a cultist race that happens on deserted streets at the industrial outskirts of Los Angeles. Winner takes all (all being $10,000 and the loser's machine).
Brian, tried and then tested, is taken into the Toretto fold, where he dates Dom’s sister Mia (Jordana Brewster) and talks cars with Dom. Dom’s girlfriend Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) plays a cast-in-iron chick that can throw a punch as smoothly as she can steer a wheel!
Everyone’s happy and adrenalin-high, except for Brian, who’s got more than car racing on his mind. He’s a;sp an under-cover cop, tracing the origins of a series dare-devil truck heists that have pinpointed a couple of speed demons as key suspects.
Using computer animatronics, manic stunts and some of the best home-bred racing cars this side of the century, director Rob Cohen shows you a culture that worships the car and grease-monkey enthusiasts that know no limits.
The script is tightly bound, the soundtrack cannonballs along with the storyline, while the characters are stolidly played. Some of the action scenes are awesome, especially where the racers take off. Cohen takes you into the car, through the engines and out the exhaust, making this as close to 3D as they come. The heist is another thriller, with one of the cars driving under a monster truck and coming out the other end unscathed.
Parallels can be drawn to last year’s car flick "Gone In 60 Seconds" and the Johnny Depp-Al Pacino starrer "Donnie Brasco", the former showcasing speed demons and the latter telling of the undercover cop who takes to the likable suspect and then can’t make up his mind whose side he’s on.This article was first published on 23 Nov 2001.