Summary of "The Fast & the Furious 4"

by Jim Orrill

"Fast & Furious" is the fourth installment of the series, but it's the first sequel to 2001's "The Fast and the Furious" to reunite Vin Diesel and Paul Walker. Street racing is subordinate to a hard-boiled revenge storyline, but fans needn't worry. Director Justin Lin generously offers sustained sequences of vehicular mayhem and pedestrian endangerment. The film reignited its franchise, earning $72.5 million in its opening weekend.

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Prologue

"Fast and Furious" opens with Dominic Toretto and his crew hijacking fuel tankers in the Dominican Republic. It's been a profitable operation, but Toretto's drawing too much attention from law enforcement, so it's time for him to lie low. He bids his girlfriend Letty goodbye for the time being and heads to Panama to get off the radar.

Letty's Dead

During Toretto's self-imposed exile, his sister Mia calls him from Los Angeles. Letty's been murdered. Despite Mia's pleas not to return, Toretto's back in L.A. in a flash, ready to mete out rough justice. Unfortunately, FBI agent Brian O'Conner, Toretto's adversary from the first film, is waiting, under orders to bring Toretto in.

Making the Team

Toretto's judicious use of unbridled violence against the city's criminal element yields information concerning a major street race. First prize is a courier job with Braga, who Toretto learns employs the man who killed Letty. O'Conner learns about the race through an informant, so to the surprise of absolutely nobody, he and Toretto pit their driving skills against each other once again. Toretto pulls off a last-second victory, but O'Conner manages to win employment with Braga by busting one of his couriers on a trumped-up methamphetamine charge, effectively opening another position on the team.

Over the Border

During a post-race party, Toretto learns a henchman named Fenix was the man who pulled the trigger, and makes a mental note to exact an unholy vengeance upon the miscreant. The couriers head to Mexico to pick up a load of heroin, then race through a series of tunnels along the border to ferry the drugs into the U.S. Toretto and O'Conner find Fenix waiting on the other side, and a fight erupts after Toretto makes his move. Fenix flees, but Toretto and O'Conner manage to escape the scene in the vehicle loaded with Braga's heroin.

Back for Braga

O'Conner's supervisors are furious with his failure to bust Braga and suspend him, so the disgraced lawman joins forces with Toretto to kidnap Braga from Mexico. Fenix and the rest of Braga's henchmen pursue the pair as they race back through the tunnels, but lacking the nigh-inhuman driving skills of O'Conner and Toretto, most perish in fiery wrecks of twisted metal along the perilous route. O'Conner and Fenix are the first to exit the tunnels, but O'Conner wrecks his car and lies at the mercy of Fenix. Before Fenix can pull the trigger, Toretto bursts out of the tunnel exit and flattens Fenix.

Denouement

Despite O'Conner's earnest appeal for clemency, Toretto's judge sentences him to 25 years to life without parole for his outstanding charges. In the film's final scene, O'Conner, Mia and members of Toretto's crew from the Dominican Republic swarm around the prison bus transporting Toretto in high-performance cars.

About the Author

Since 2006 Jim Orrill has produced reviews and essays on popular culture for publications including Lemurvision and "Sexis." Based in Western North Carolina, Orrill graduated cum laude from the University of North Carolina with a bachelor's degree in office systems.