I had fully intended to write an entire review of The Fast and the Furious using nothing but four-letter words. That proved challenging since even the word ‘words’ contains more than four letters.
So I decided the task was naught but floccinaucinihilipilification and abandoned it.
But I would not so easily abandon you, or The Fast and the Furious, which is like the Platonic ideal of idiot boy movies. In it there are men-folk who do very little but drive around dangerously in souped-up cars. There are women-folk who hang around waiting to be kissed and/or to jiggle their rounded bits. Then there’s Michelle Rodriguez who gets to play Letty. She’s there for the kissing and also for the fast driving, making her role at least twice as challenging as anyone else’s.
This is good news because the film’s star, Vin Diesel, isn’t exactly Sir Lawrence Olivier. Nor is co-star Paul Walker, who, it is hard not to point out, died not long ago in a car that was being driven dangerously fast in what has to be one of the worst inadvertent movie tie-ins ever. While Walker’s death isn’t amusing, if you’re looking for a definition of ‘ironic,’ we’re here to help.
It is my intention to review all of the Fast & Furious films and to mention Mr. Walker’s untimely death in each one. For while I enjoy watching fast things go fast and round things bouncing and all sorts of things exploding, I also appreciate tragic irony. I am still waiting patiently for George W. Bush to stumble over a hidden nuclear device while lost in the Iraqi desert and to die from shock, alone, with no one the wiser as to the cause of his demise.
It’s really all we can ask or expect from this world. Maybe that and some derring-do in cranked-out Hondas as ethnically segregated groups of roustabouts cozy up to their stereotypes and, whenever possible, ethnic stereotypes with rounded bits.
To my surprise, however, The Fast and the Furious does not suck. It also does not feature all that much auto racing. Instead, there is a generic plot which has Walker’s undercover cop infiltrating Diesel’s gearhead team in order to eventually conclude they’re hijacking trucks and, also, to sleep with his sister. But not in that order.
Other things happen, too, some of them in a manner that relates to other happening things, and others not so much. One example of the latter is the touching scene in which Diesel’s Toretto brings Walker’s O’Conner back to his house so he can show him the car in which his father burned to death and tell the tragic story. Toretto doesn’t even offer his guest a glass of milk. They’ve just knocked off work in the middle of the day to go look at a car that’s parked at a house where they spend every other scene in the film. Plus, for a fiery wreck, Toretto’s custom-built 1970 Dodge Charger looks exceptionally uncrisped. No matter! We’re on to the next scene, which most likely contains fast things going fast, round things bouncing, and all sorts of things exploding.
It is all delightfully free of thought process. Director Rob Cohen has made in this film a monster of unstoppable proportions. Even Walker’s real-life car wreck death has not unduly hindered the production of the 7th Fast and Furious installment. Maybe you see why I was moved to review this series using only four-letter words? ‘Damn’ would have about covered it.
I could tell you about the action sequences (mostly fairly lame), or the drama (contrived), or the denouement (silly), but none of that is important. More so; nothing in The Fast and the Furious is important. It is all calmingly disposable; a film made just for those with exceptionally weak bladders. Go ahead. Hit the john as often as you like. Vin Diesel will ‘act’ put upon again in a minute or two, and then we will drool over a car or a not-quite naked lady.
Basically, The Fast and the Furious is like a feature-length trailer. I’m amazed no one thought of it sooner. Except they did, tons of times, with both better and worse results. So why did this particular film connect with audiences and spawn so many sequels?
I’m fairly convinced that it’s because The Fast and the Furious perfectly hits the medium frequency between exciting and soporific. It dances between the raindrops without getting wet. It passes right through your body, avoiding all your atomic mass, like some quark of fate. You could watch it starting at the middle and loop back around to the beginning. You could watch it backwards, or upside down, or with your eyes submerged in a vat of solidifying Jell-O. It would not matter.
The Fast and the Furious lifts all weight from your soul, which is what they mean when they say ‘escapist entertainment.’ Somehow, miraculously, this film has landed right. It is not good, but sure, I’ll watch six more of them.
I’ll even look forward to watching them, and sharing my deep thoughts on their relative merits with you. And reminding you that Paul Walker was killed in a speeding Porsche that ran into a light pole.
this four letter word task with boys-cars-race must seem very hard, thus news from race must wait till more time will seed evil poem, once eyes have rest from flat film …
fast cars, dumb guys, loud guns fire near ears make hour plus half film! look race. care none. mind turn soft. bask thru head melt. flip disc over once more.
true, this crap–ahem–this fine film, this work that made many jump with glee, isn’t, alas, Kane. view next ones with care, lest your eyes fall from your face.
wary, sure. most sane idea. will take kind note and your plan unto soul.
If you’re looking for the answer to the first film’s profitability, it’s because it was fucking CHEAP.
The answer to its popularity: an at-the-time quite remarkable and refreshing diversity to the cast, the deftly sublimated homoerotic chemistry between Walker and Diesel, and the appeal of a (cheap!) Cgi-free stunt-driving movie to real-life motorcar cultists. Of these elements, only the third is abandoned in subsequent installments.
You neglected in your review to point out that this first f&f movie is a rewrite of Point Break, another noisy, witless piece of shit that landed squarely in America’s heart.
PS, over the course of a year, I got super drunk and watched the various F&F movies for the first time, in reverse order, and discussed them in increasing detail on G+. It was before 6 came out.
i will read your G+ stuff but i think you give the audience way too much credit with your list of why it was popular. i’m near positive that none of the millions who watched and still watch F&F films cared about diversity or chemistry. maybe they cared about cars? still… the fact that they ditched the real car chases for CGI ones seems to suggest the producers didn’t think so at least.
nope. i think it was popular because it was exactly stupid enough but none more stupid. it was the gold standard of stupid.