How The Fast & Furious Series Became A Transcendent Cinema – Seriously!
There is a scene in Fast Five—The 2011 blockbuster that transformed the scrappy Fast Furious franchise in a vehicular war epic – where street racer Dominic “Dom” Toretto (Vin Diesel) sums up the soul of the series for his crew.
“Money comes and goes, we know that,” says Dom. “The most important thing in life will always be the people in this room – here, now. Hi, mi familia.
Dom’s claim is somewhat absurd, given that the Fast Furious movies often involve stealing money (from a Tokyo crime lord, Rio crime lord, or anyone else with a wallet or safe) and still making money (5, $ 9 billion at the global box office so far).
That’s not to say you should reject Dom’s dedication. For 20 years, the series has made poetry out of the heavy metal of cars, airplanes and anything that can explode. Still, the reason we keep watching is because it’s both a thrilling and heartfelt adventure – and because the story of how it happened is incredibly bizarre. So in anticipation of the June release of F9, the next chapter in the saga, now is the time to tell this story and watch these films for free at select theaters in the region.
It all started in 2001 with The Fast and the Furious, an entertaining and junky crime film about Los Angeles cop Brian O’Conner (Paul Walker) betraying his badge to join Dom and his pals. It holds up, but not as well as the 2006 one Tokyo Drift, the first one Fast Furious film directed by Justin Lin, the daredevil author whose style would define the series.
From early to mid-August, Lin was best known for Better luck tomorrow, a garish teenage odyssey that gleefully attempted to demolish the stereotype of the “model minority” used to degrade Asian Americans. With Tokyo Drift, he attempted to demolish Hollywood’s obsession with overly frenetic action, triggering car chases edited and choreographed for maximum clarity.
Tokyo Drift peaks in a mountain highway chase filled with the heartbreaking moments you feel in your body. When a 1967 Mustang nearly rolls off the road, we see a terrifying shot of a wheel hovering over the rim – an image that sealed Lin’s ascent into the rarefied realm of directors turning action into art. .
While Tokyo Drift played a role of beginners (including Sung Kang as Han, a character Better luck tomorrow), Diesel and Walker returned for 2009 Fast Furious. This movie is as bland as its uncreative fun title, but it put together the superior Fast Five, in which Dom travels to Rio for a heist of $ 100 million.
After four films, Lin was replaced by director James Wan (Seen), who helmed the series during its defining trauma: the death of Walker, who perished in a car crash in real life. Furious 7 ends with Diesel as the Dom praising his co-star: “Wherever you are, whether it’s a quarter-mile or halfway around the world, you’ll always be with me.
Through Furious 7, we had seen characters fall in love, become parents, change careers, live and die. The series counted with time – and Walker’s passing forced that calculation out of the subtext and into the limelight, where he confronted mortality with unexpected grace.
Crude commercialism sometimes overshadows the noblest activities of the franchise. Mad Max has socialism and feminism; Fast Furious has Corona product placement and male gaze (movies are addicted to avidly watching women from behind). Genuine poor hygiene may be better than fake Hollywood virtue, but that doesn’t make it defensible.
Yet the Fast Furious movies have always seemed immune to criticism – perhaps because they speak to moviegoers in a way that not all movie series do. While The Avengers features a team of predominantly white elites, Dom is the patriarch of a diverse working class clan. He’s more Captain America than Steve Rogers.
No film embodies the contradictory nature of Fast Furious better than Fast Five, which returns in theaters Friday as part of a series of free screenings leading up to the new sequel F9, which Lin returned to lead. Fast Five has the glorious spectacle of Dom and Brian walking through a favela, but it also has a tender scene where Brian worries he’s imitating his emotionally distant father.
“You won’t be like that, Brian,” Dom reassures him. A lot of actors would throw that line back and say, “It’s just a Fast Furious film. ”Diesel gives him the emotional weight he deserves, daring us to laugh at his unwavering sincerity. When an actor does that, there’s nothing left to say except“ Hi ”.
SEE: AMC and Regal Cinemas cinemas offer free screening of films in the Fast Furious franchise every Friday. Visit amctheatres.com/fastfridays and regmovies.com/static/en/us/promotions/fast-friday for information on how to get tickets. The remaining program includes Fast Five May 28 Fast & Furious 6 June 6 Furious 7 June 11, and The fate of the furious June 18.