Fast Five, FF6, Furious 7, and The Fate of the Furious rank among the best movies that have ever been made. Nowadays, the common move in Hollywood is to lean on superhero properties (Marvel and DC) or remake children’s book with giant established followings into big budget film franchises (Harry Potter, Maze Runner, Hunger Games, etc) that make gangbusters at the box office. That is why when the first FF film hit the screens in 2001 and then just kept spawning sequels, it was such a pleasant surprise and rarity. I have personally seen all of the films and have been a loyal fan since the very beginning. But most people consider the franchise truly hitting its stride with Fast Five in 2011 when Universal really opened its wallets and let Justin Lin and the crew run roughshod in Rio de Janeiro. Also: They brought in The Rock as Diplomatic Security Service agent, Luke Hobbs, who chases Brian and Dom. What a great movie.
I’ve written before about how the great Wesley Morris calls FF “the most progressive force in American cinema” and “incredibly important” but today I really want to dissect what it is about these films that tickle my fancy so much. In a nutshell, I think FF hits my kitsch button which is the main reason I enjoy these films so much. Consider, for instance, this clip of The Rock single-handedly redirecting the torpedo from the nuclear submarine towards the Chechen separatist bad guy truck that is out to get them:
Or this one where Dom jumps (in his car) over a highway chasm to save Letty from imminent demise:
Or this one where we are shown the value of teamwork:
How can one watch these scenes and not be enamored with the FF film franchise? I humbly submit that it is simply not possible. What I really appreciate though, about the franchise, is that since Fast Five, there has been a very self-aware attempt with the series towards “one-upmanship” with every subsequent installment. In Fast Five you got Brian and Dom pulling the bank vault in two Subaru WRXs through the streets of Rio, FF6 introduced the world’s longest airport runway (somewhere in Chechnya, I think?), and Furious 7 gave us several magnificent set pieces: Cars parachuting out of a jumbo airliner transport, cars taking on a Predator Drone, and cars building-jumping through the Etihad Towers in Abu Dubai.
And then, of course, Fate of the Furious gave us: Cars vs Nuclear Submarine: