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Fast but none too bright; Fast & Furious (12A, 106 mins) Action/Thriller/Romance. Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Michelle Rodriguez, Jordana Brewster. Director: Justin Lin. Contains swearing, sex and violence.

TURBO-CHARGED and haphazardly plotted as the title suggests, the fourth instalment of the streetracing franchise welcomes back original cast members Vin Diesel and Paul Walker.

The bronzed beefcakes put the pedal to the metal under the direction of Justin Lin (The Fast And The Furious: Tokyo Drift) in a preposterous tale of revenge and redemption.

Even by the standards of earlier films, Fast & Furious is nonsensical, leaving us to wonder if screenwriter Chris Morgan has been sniffing too many petrol fumes as he soups up the central storyline with pointless add-ons, like a rekindled romance for Walker's gung-ho cop.

Racing sequences are outrageous and spectacular as ever, as characters swerve through oncoming traffic, leaving twisted metal in their slipstream.

Lin opens with a high-octane set piece on the treacherous roads of the Dominican Republic, where Dominic Toretto (Diesel), girlfriend Letty (Rodriguez) and their posse make a meagre living stealing the payloads from petrol tankers.

The frenetically edited prologue culminates in Diesel's bad boy burning rubber to pilot his mean machine beneath an airborne, flaming tanker with split second precision.

Walker's maverick cop, Detective Brian O'Conner, enjoys his own eye-catching reintroduction to the fray, chasing after a suspect over the rooftops of Los Angeles like a man who has been watching too many Bourne films on DVD.

The old adversaries cross paths again when, as luck would have it, Dominic and Brian begin looking for the same shadowy underworld figure, who procures drivers to run drugs across the Mexico-US border.

Dominic and Brian are soon embroiled in a high-speed game of cat and mouse with the gun-toting bad guys, blurring the lines between right and wrong as they seek to bring down the cartel and avenge fallen friends.

Meanwhile, Dominic's sister Mia (Brewster) struggles with her long dormant feelings for Brian.

"Maybe you're the bad guy pretending to be the good guy... you ever think of that?" she ponders. "Every day," responds Brian dimly.

Fast & Furious lingers over the gleaming bodywork of the cars, trumpeting the beauty of a roaring engine or a throbbing gear knob.

Diesel delivers his lines in that trademark bass growl without a hint of emotion, while Walker plies his cocksure young dude shtick ad nauseam, and amazingly doesn't disrobe, even for a perfunctory embrace with Brewster's old flame.

The script runs on empty, but audiences can put their brains in neutral to enjoy the pyrotechnics and relentless male posturing. .


ORIGINALS - Michelle Rodriguez, Paul Walker, Vin Diesel and Jordana Brewster
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Publication:Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)
Date:Apr 10, 2009
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