About 14 years ago, maybe even 15 years ago, I read an article in a newspaper. “Controversy: New movie glorifies underground street racing”. There was a black and white picture of a Mitsubishi Eclipse being blown up. This wasn’t a promotional feature, but it might as well have been. I kept it in mind and went to see the movie, twice. It was the only Fast movie I paid to see on the big screen.
The thing is, The Fast and the Furious is a movie about cars. The newer movies are not. When it was released it was a smaller-scale movie trying to draw on the success of Gone in 60 Seconds. Nobody knew who Vin Diesel was. Nobody knew who Paul Walker was. Some knew what NoS and an RX-7 were though. Whereas the 2001 movie tried to reel in gearheads, the new movies try to draw in Transformers audiences. I’m not usually one for reboots. Today, after seeing the Super Bowl trailer. I’m done. Hit the reset button.
I still maintain that the action sequences in TFATF (2001) are better than those in the recent movies. Walter Hill once said in a Bullet to the Head interview that if the action in a movie isn’t believable, then it’s ultimately pointless. In TFATF, a Supra chases two motorcycles. It’s a great sequence. It’s relatively grounded and the director said he was inspired by the chase sequence in Bullitt. I mean, when Walker approaches a crest, you can see he respects it and briefly slows the car down, even though it makes a jump. That kinda thing would be considered ‘too boring’ in the new movies. I’m talking specifically about that new Super Bowl trailer. The car probably would’ve taken flight, literally, in this years movie. The action sequences in that trailer, incredibly, make Fast Five look gritty in comparison. Increasingly this series resembles the mindset of a 7 year old at playtime. You know, when you used to drive your toy car up the side of a chair? You sorta knew that gravity probably wouldn’t permit it, but you didn’t care. Sometimes, you’d even make the car fly. There is a point when guilty pleasure just dwindles into no pleasure at all.
I should give mention to the third movie. Which I, as a car lover and action movie aficionado, consider to be the 2nd best in the series. After the atrocious second, which is the worst of all of them, the third movie brought the series, briefly, back down to earth. It’s another ‘car movie’. It’s cheesy as fuck, and even cringeworthy in places. But it places an onus on the smell of burning rubber. Literally. Does a car explode out of a flying airplane, barrell roll then cut to Vin Diesels face in the third movie? Nope, but there is talk of changing spark plugs and the cost of new tyres. Nowadays, it’s all about finding the biggest Hollywood star. The Rock, Statham, whoever. It’s all about doing the most silly 7-year old boy fantasy.
For once, this is a series I’d love to see a ‘grounded reboot’ on. Let’s go back to stealing DVD players for a NoS fix, not dragging bank vaults up the streets of Brazil and literally ‘JR’ing’ people and bringing them back from the dead, like you used to do with your G.I. Joe toys. The series is now where Bond was with Pierce Brosnan’s final hours. A parody with invisible cars and the action being taken into space. People didn’t know whether it was intentionally stupid and to laugh or whether it was just a bit shit.
Another thing with upping the ante with each iteration is the problem is bloating the cast. In the last movie there were as many as 10-12 ‘faces’, i.e. regulars and famous people, from The Rock to Gal Gadot, with the core ‘family’ also being in there. In a movie that runs for 130 minutes (including credits), this chops the screen time of each down to around 10 minutes. Often less for each when you consider that this is basically a Vin Diesel show and everything must revolve around him. It makes for a poor story.
The last movie was a picture without a villain, Luke Evans barely registered on anyone’s minds. This problem will likely return here. You have new additions in Jason Statham and Tony Jaa, with returnees like Lucas Black. Then there are international stars, like Ali Fazal of India, recruited probably because there are like, you know, four trillion Indians. And that means many, many pockets, so don’t expect Mr. Fazal to be doing the cameo thing.
One thing though. In The Fast and the Furious (2001), Walker and Diesel ‘smoke’ a Ferrari in their 800BHP+ Supra. Thing is, that’s a stock F355 Spider. A ‘budget’ Ferrari if you will, the runt of the Ferrari pack. Now, let’s see that Supra do the same thing to its big brother, say an Enzo, top speed 220mph+. Especially one as modified as that Supra is. This kind of discussion is a thing of the past with ‘Fast’ movies.