False and Frivolous: Why The Fast and the Furious Series has Outstayed its Welcome

People love cars, this was thinking behind Rob Cohen’s (no not one of THE Cohen brothers you’ll be surprised to hear) 2001 hit, The Fast and the Furious. Jumping on the back of the modified-car subculture that was all the rage at the time  the film, starring yank-pretty boy Paul Walker and monosyllabic oaf Vin Diesel , played on the public’s fascination with family cars boasting 4 litre engines and ironing boards for spoilers.

Sure the film wasn’t a masterpiece, but the actors worked, playing a convincing community of petrol heads who were initially wary but ultimately welcoming to the undercover cop (Walker) infiltrating their street races and social gatherings to build intel about the scene. The film worked because it had a clear focus and was honest, it was all about the cars and it didn’t pretend to be anything it wasn’t.

Since then there have been three sequels of varying quality. The second film, ingeniously titled 2 Fast 2 Furious retained the fast cars and faster women (in case the title wasn’t enough of a giveaway), but laid on a translucent plot about the underground drugs trade in Miami. The flimsy progression was clearly only there to facilitate the presence of the brightly coloured cars but the second instalment certainly worked as a high-octane action film.

The Third Instalment, which was little more than a passing reference to the franchise, having jettisoned stalwarts Walker and Vin Diesel took place in Japan. Despite weak ties to its younger brothers it was a purer representation of the modified car culture, taking it back to high-school kids and deserted parking lots.  More recently however, the series seems to be morphing into some sort of Con Air slash Days of Thunder lovechild.

Fast & Furious was the ‘back to basics’ name for the fourth film (which you can’t help but feel they desperately tried to cram a ‘4’ into somewhere), but basic it was not; again drugs busts and Mexican criminals were used as a vehicle (sorry) to showcase a range of American muscle cars. The trailer for the fifth film appears to be in the same vein and in a move that seems wholly predictable, they have unnecessarily crammed a numeral into the title, does not bode well!

Having seen the trailer, I can confirm that the ratio of fast cars to Vin Diesel jumping through windows and worriedly shouting stuff before a fuel tanker explodes is not promising. Again the franchise seems to be edging towards a poor man’s Die Hard rather than a Rich man’s Gone in Sixty Seconds.

Take a look at the trailer for yourselves but if like me you’re a piston-head purist who is just after some lighted hearted four-wheel based fun you may end up overlooking ‘Fast Five’, which to me sounds suspiciously more like a novel about a bunch of over curious teenagers than a film about a gang of below-the-law opportunists that drive souped-up shopping trolleys.

Joe is a film enthusiast current working as a blogger for a company offering NWVC mobile phone accesories


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