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Fast & Furious

Gail Choice | 4/1/2009, 5 p.m.

Hollywood, CA -- Wow. Usually the fourth installment of a popular movie is a dog. But "Fast & Furious" lives up to its reputation that began more than nine years ago. It's fast, real fast. And it's furious, I mean its mean, with a lot of twists and turns. In other words, it's more than just a movie about fast cars and the people who love to drive them.

Vin Diesel ("The Pacifier") reprises his role as ex-con Dominic Toretto who has been on the run, living a fugitive existence in the Dominican Republic with Michelle Rodriguez ("Resident Evil") who also is reprising her role as Letty, the love of his life who opted to stay with him. The movie opens with the two of them, along with their other partners in crime pulling a daring heist, stealing gasoline no less, on a dangerous road, with a truck driver not easily intimidated.

Dominic decides to go it alone, wanting Letty to have a better life, knowing if he goes down she will also. He urges her to leave him for her own sake, and she decides to try to bring him back to the states as a free man, and that's when the trouble begins.

Heartbreaking news forces Dominic to come out of hiding, joining his sister Mia played by Jordana Brewster ("The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning") to get to the bottom of a sinister group by hiring the best drivers in the country. The reunion is complete when agent Brian O'Conner played by Paul Walker ("Flags of Our Fathers") goes undercover again, this time to flush out the bad guys and get to the bottom of their profitable operation. But not without some serious trouble from Mia (he broke her heart), and Dominic (whom he seriously angered).

Laz Alonso ("Stomp the Yard," "This Christmas") joins the cast as the mean and nasty sociopath, Fenix, a driver with a taste for blood. He is the hit man for an ever elusive drug kingpin who uses confident drivers to haul his deadly cargo. The drivers are selected by participating in an illegal street race that takes them through Hollywood and other crowded streets and freeways, the winning or surviving drivers win the honor of driving for the organization but are not told what their cargo is or of the dangers that lie ahead of them.

Dominic and Agent Brian quickly learn that they will have to trust each other if they plan on getting to the bottom of this dangerous caper. Both have a lot at stake - Dominic's freedom to keep Letty; and Brian's job and the love of his life Mia. They have to infiltrate the underground network that moves high-grade heroin across the border.

Vin Diesel says about the script, "This Fast & Furious is where our characters have grown up a bit and are dealing with life in a real way, which was important to me to do a movie that didn't just rest on the laurels of its car prominence, but took the time to go deep into a story."

The fast-paced, hold your breath driving scenes kept your eyes peeled to the screen. You actually got the feeling of how these drivers were controlling their cars, making hairpin turns, and stopping on a dime. It's a rush just looking at it. "Fast & Furious" made it a point to show moviegoers what happens when you push the limits of what's possible behind the wheel.

The women are just as tough as the men, and just as daring. Michelle Rodriguez says of her character Letty, "The stakes are higher. Letty and Dom are on the run, breaking the law wherever they go. There's a slight "Bonnie and Clyde" feel to it. The lingering question now is if Dom will risk his love for her in the name of this rush that they're both addicted to."

If you have a need for speed, but dare not hit the road to fulfill that rush, then don't miss "Fast & Furious" directed by Justin Lin ("The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift") in theaters Friday.

- Gail Choice can be contacted at gailchoice@strictlyhollywood.com.