The best movie of the summer does not have CGI dinosaurs, exploding World War II battleships and actors in monkey suits. Instead, it has a load of cars, a cast of unknowns and a script that seems lifted verbatim from a 1950s B-movie. Yet "The Fast and the Furious" still manages to boast more action, sex and adrenaline than "Pearl Harbor", "Jurassic Park III", and "Planet of the Apes" combined.
Director Rob Cohen's game plan is simple. Where this year's other blockbusters aimed high and fell short, his succeeds by setting its sights low and reaching them comfortably.
Rookie whitebread cop Brian O'Conner (Paul Walker) is ordered to infiltrate a team of fearless bandits who hijack trucks on the open highway in their souped-up imported cars. But first, he must win the trust of Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel), a leading light in Los Angeles' illegal street racing circuit. The deeper Brian digs, the more he is drawn to this high-speed, high-risk world, especially after falling for Dominic's lovely sister Mia (Jordana Brewster).
Cue a relentless barrage of auto-vehicular mayhem, which gives the aptly named Diesel plenty of room to showcase his muscular, gravel-voiced charisma.
There's nothing daring or high concept about this shamelessly derivative slice of teenage schlock. What it does offer is a visceral, high-octane, Formula One of a flick that puts the pedal to the metal in the opening minutes and does not take the foot off the accelerator until the end credits. Eat your heart out, Jeremy Clarkson!
"The Fast and the Furious" is released in UK cinemas on 14th September 2001.