The Fast and the Furious. Second viewing (the first). It’s aged pretty well. I really got a kick out of the dialogue this time around. I also like the sound effects when cops break up the street race, and everyone scrambles, and you can hear the car alarms/locks chirping. And that first moment when Brian hits the NOS and we dive into engine is still such a rush. Filed under: The Fast and the Furious.
Furious 7. On the whole, much more of a soap opera than the previous movies. Or just opera. It’s grand, it’s sentimental. The series seemed to transition from heist flick into slightly more of a superhero ensemble piece. The mission and conflict is much more personal through and through, rather than practical.
The bus scene up there is not in any way ruined by the trailer. So much better than I thought. Other good stuff: I like how they set up and executed the staircase scene. And this one felt funnier than the previous ones. It’s a bit slighter and choppier in hindsight, but when I was watching they really played the whole range pretty well.
I also have to mention that it was difficult to watch at times, for real-life reasons. Seeing Paul Walker doing dangerous things in cars, knowing the circumstances of his death, made me a little uneasy. In the theatre it made me think of Heath Ledger’s Joker from The Dark Knight. It’s all too easy to make those eerie parallels with the real world. I trust that this one, too, will be easier to watch again later, because you also get to see him just having fun with his fellow cast, enjoying this ride like we do.
Filed under: The Fast and the Furious. I guess I have to go back and re-watch all of them now.
Fast & Furious 6. The best yet, no doubt. Two things help. One, it gets back to the roots a little bit (good drivers in fast cars going fast, car porn, bounteous stylishness). And two, it’s much, much better at what Fast Five tried to do (go bigger and more outrageous). I think I have to call it my favorite. Rankings:
Fast & Furious. Decent. Most franchises don’t stay strong after three movies. It’s definitely grown up: multi-national settings, gratuitous helicopter flyover shots, fancier locations, and pretty fireball explosions among the big-budget must-haves. The obvious CGI in the tunnel scenes was a bit of a letdown. The races more frenetic and choppy; the crashes were definitely more… comprehensive. I was also thinking this is first in the series that’s felt wholly like a work of the 2000s. Even has teal and orange in full force, along with some shaky-cam here and there. Good to see Vin Diesel back in a bigger role here, though sometimes it seems like he’s following instructions or something. Gotta like him, though. I also really, really enjoy John Ortiz as a villain. So good. He has a knack for balancing the malice and the charm without turning into a sideshow (see also his role in Miami Vice). I don’t think the music is as strong as in the previous three. Also, border crossings and expendable, replaceable labor force? Where have I heard that before? Final thought: I’d love to know how many times in movie history there’s been a woman/man/couple carrying groceries into a house, unloading in the kitchen, and then devolving into an argument/outburst/tears/etc. It’s movie boilerplate.
I’m now four deep into the F&F franchise. My top and my bottom picks are pretty secure, but for the middle ones, right now I think I’d rank them like…
The Fast and the Furious. Almost exactly what I was expecting. One surprise, though: I figured there would be some fun, gratuitous style flourishes, but didn’t think it would be so cinematically interesting. The way they edited the racing scenes, the warps and perspective shifts, reminded me of the welding scene in Thief. It goes from a more neutral third-person observer perspective into this subjective-experience interpretive moment. Nicely done. It’s not high drama, but credit for making some gestures towards character-building, even though that’s not the point. And there’s a fun soundtrack. Two-Lane Blacktop is another good movie with itchy street racers.