Fast & Furious (Blu-ray)
Review by: Matt Malouf
Posted on: February 27th, 2014
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Plot: What’s it about?

The shocking and unexpected death of actor Paul Walker last November has certainly put a damper on the future film (Fast and Furious 7.) It certainly made revisiting this 4th film a sad and bittersweet experience. Clearly these will never be remembered as Oscar-worthy films, but they were never intended as such. One of the joys of the original film (The Fast and the Furious) is the strong emphasis on character over plot. I can honestly say that I liked the characters and was eager to see where their journeys would ultimately take them. Walker was a major character in all of the films (save for Tokyo Drift) and his recent death is all the more frustrating when we think of how the future film(s) might’ve gone had he lived. I was always disappointed when the original cast didn’t return for the first two rounds of sequels. Needless to say, I was more than ready for this installment as it finally got a chance to give us a proper conclusion to the original film. Would the results meet and/or exceed my expectations? Read on…

The film begins with a daring heist of a big rig truck carrying gasoline. It hardly matters what the gang plans on doing with the gas when they get it. Clearly, this is simply an excuse for a thrilling opening sequence. In addition to Walker, we are reunited with the characters played by Vin Diesel, Jordana Brewster and Michelle Rodriguez. Dom (Diesel) is out to avenge the death of a loved one (I won’t mention the character specifically to avoid spoilers) and Brian O’Conner (Walker) is hoping to turn him in. Eventually, Dom agrees to help Brian bring in a heroin importer in exchange for Dom to be absolved of any wrongdoing. There’s much tension between Dom and Brian since Brian was working undercover and Dom feels betrayed by that. O’Conner is now working for the F.B.I. after the events of the first film. Dom is still doing the same thing he’s always done. The film knows exactly what its audience wants and delivers on that level. There’s more than enough action, including car chases, foot pursuits, double-crosses and mayhem to satisfy. What is more surprising, however, is that the film is pretty plot heavy and certainly the most serious sequel in this series. I will say this: it has grown on me with repeat viewings, but I’ll never regard it as one of the better Fast films. I think my initial reservations were that I was expecting an epic reunion of the characters I had waited two fairly lackluster sequels for (the less said about Tokyo, the better) and on that level I felt disappointed.

The film’s pros and cons are weighed pretty equally. On one hand, there’s enough of what we’ve come to expect from this series while on the other, it does take itself a bit too seriously on a number of occasions. Some of the action scenes take place at night or in darkly lit areas and that can make things a bit incomprehensible. Another issue I had was killing off a major character. Fans who’ve been following the later sequels will know this is no longer an issue, but during my first viewing, it left me furious (pardon the pun). It felt like a cheat to build our expectations on finally getting the gang back together only to have a character eliminated early on. At the end of the day I have to place Fast and Furious right in the middle when compared to the original and the other sequels. Fast Five took things in a positive direction two years after this one and I still find the 6th installment to be the best sequel. It’s definitely worth seeing and has just enough to warrant a look. Of course by this time (2014) I’m sure most have seen the film and know exactly how they feel about it.

Video: How’s it look?

One thing about Universal, they deliver strong transfers on a regular basis. This is no exception. The transfer is VC encoded with a 2.40:1 ratio delivering sharp, strong colors consistently. The film has many scenes that take place in sunny areas, but that’s never a problem as it stays sharp throughout. There are plenty of nice visuals during the film and they lend themselves nicely to the HD format here. Background shots show strong detail as well. Flesh tones are nice and smooth and the print used is pristine. A fine job from Universal indeed.

Audio: How’s it sound?

The DTS HD track is also a winner. It may even be TOO good, if that’s possible. I had to keep my player at a low volume because this was constantly strong and involving. Rear channels remained active throughout and the bass added a nice rumble to a number of scenes. Vocals were always clear and concise with zero distortion. There’s plenty of background chatter in a number of sequences, one of which is a nightclub scene. This is a nice, balanced track that puts your system to good use.

Supplements: What are the extras?

There are a few versions out there, but the one reviewed here is a single disc package with a digital copy insert. There are a few features that take advantage of the U-Control features. I often find them frustrating to deal with, but fans should enjoy checking them out, assuming they’re more patient than I. There are a ton of features on this disc that give more than enough background on the film at hand.

DVD Features

  • Original Short Film: Los Bandoleros – This is an exclusive (20 minute) short film that acts as a prelude to the film. It’s semi interesting.
  • Under the Hood: Muscle cars and imports – Car fans will enjoy these 2 features examining many of the cars used. There’s some footage with Diesel as well.
  • Getting the Gang Back Together – This is a good look at finally bringing fans a proper sequel to the original film with the original cast back.
  • Shooting the big rig heist – This looks at the making of the film’s opening sequence and how it was done.
  • Driving School with Vin Diesel – We see Vin doing some test driving for the film.
  • Gag Reel – A standard collection of outtakes from the film.
  • Races and Chases – Looks at some of the action scenes from the film.
  • High Octane Action: The stunts – Gives us a look at how some of the stunts were created for the film.
  • South of the border: Filming in Mexico – Is a very short feature about filming in a small border town.
  • Audio Commentary – Director Justin Lin provides a running commentary for the film.
  • Previews
  • DVD/UltraViolet copy

Blu-ray Exclusives

  • Take Control – We’re treated to some behind the scenes looks at several scenes.
  • Virtual Car Garage – This is an interactive type feature examining some of the cars used in the film.
Fast & Furious (Blu-ray)
MOVIE INFO.
YEAR RELEASED
2009
RATING
PG-13
DIRECTOR
Justin Lin
STUDIO
Universal
RUNNING TIME
107 min.


Rotten 27%
TECH SPECS
  • BLU-RAY
  • (2.40:1)
  • Video Codec: AVC
  • Audio: DTS HD Master
  • 2 Disc Set
  • DISC FEATURES
  • Theatrical Trailer
  • Audio Commentary
  • Deleted Scene(s)
  • Featurette
  • Documentary
  • Digital Copy

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