(2 of 2)
The first race has Dom tooling down a circuitous highway while Letty hangs by a strap on the back of a huge semi speeding just in front of him. (It's just as well Rodriguez isn't at the wheel; as fans of thesmokinggun.com know, the actress does not have an exemplary driving record.) Letty manages to slip into Dom's car just before the truck crashes and explodes. But the semi hasn't completed its mischief: it starts tumbling toward them. With no escape, Dom guns his car toward the truck, which, following the physical laws of action movies (cf. Live Free or Die Hard), can be counted on to flip and roll just enough so that Dom can drive under it.
Lin or Morgan or the stunt supervisors may have peeked at the 1954 car-chase movie called The Fast and the Furious, which also begins with a truck careering down a winding road, crashing and bursting into flames except in the original, the whole thing took exactly 10 seconds. The opening scene runs about 10 minutes and is a smartly choreographed ballet mécanique. But Rodriguez's character isn't around much longer; Letty gets killed soon after. Fortunately, when Dom examines the crime scene, he turns out to have skills as both a specialist in tire-tread forensics and a bit of a psychic profiler: he can "see" the events leading to Letty's death including the identity of the creep who killed her.
Back in L.A., Toretto tracks the gang responsible for the murder, as well as for that pesky Mexico-U.S. drug-running you may have read about recently. He and Brian, whom Dom has never forgiven for falling in love with Mia, quickly infiltrate the gang. They're hired by Campos (John Ortiz), a mouthy middleman, to drive $60 million in heroin bricks across the border for a mysterious pan-American scurvisto named Braga, whose identity gets a longer buildup than Orson Welles' Harry Lime did in The Third Man. There's a little more plot and a lot more sensational driving, all in aid of reconciling Toretto and O'Conner. Given the Elmer's Glue of male-bonding movies, no girls will be allowed to drive; F&F is machismo with a stick shift. The guys are all members of a stud fraternity, a penile colony. The only eroticism is auto.
In this stag universe, Diesel is the alpha and the omega male. One scene has him dangling a suspect from the high window of a tenement, then letting him go. Diesel fans know that if you let him into your apartment, you'd better clear the knickknacks off your freestanding shelving, because he's bound to throw somebody into it. Anybody else does this, you'd say he has anger issues or, considering his character's surname, Toretto's syndrome. But Diesel doesn't get mad; he stays cooler than cool. The guy's an icebox.