Monday, June 3, 2013

The Fastest and the Furious-est

Not pictured: The 10-inch footstool Vin Diesel is standing on.

By Joe Parello  @HerewegoJoe

The original Fast and the Furious changed my life when it came out in 2001.

Ok, that may be overstating the impact of the under-the-radar hit that made tuning cars mainstream, but it was easily one of the most influential movies of my high school life. All my friends wanted to add "skirts" and "neons" to our cars (We were losers), and, of course, each of us "lived our life a quarter-mile at a time."

Though I know my fiancee and I should choose a fuel-efficient family car for our next vehicle, I would still give up a big toe to own Bryan O'Conner's orange twin-turbo Toyota Supra or Dom Torreto's red RX-7. That was the beauty of the first F&F movie, it was simple. Bad-ass cars racing each other, and a few minor heist scenes you didn't really have to care about. They were stealing stereos and running from Johnny Tran's gang, but the focus was on the cars.

If you saw that movie (And it's terrible 2003 sequel 2 Fast 2 Furious), then saw Fast 6  as I did, you would find that they really "turned the volume up" on this franchise. There were hardly any race scenes, but a ton of car chases, and not just with tuner cars. Now we've got Benzes, BMWs, Ferraris, tanks, planes and a vehicle that appears to be a dune buggy mixed with an open-wheel Formula-1 race car.

It's enough to make you yearn for the simple days of "Race Wars," when Jesse could lay down the pink slip to his dad's car against some fool runnin' a Honda 2000.

Nevertheless, Fast 6 is a masterpiece for what it is, and that is an insanely fun, totally crazy summer blockbuster. The plot is disjointed, the motivations of the characters are inconsistent and, sometimes, totally nonsensical, and the acting is terrible (Ludacris and The Rock deliver the two best performances, yikes), but sometimes these flaws work in the film's favor.

When one character turns out to not be whom they say they are, the audience has no choice but to say "Wow, did not see that coming!" Of course, they are also thinking, "what is that character's name and why are they here again?" With such a lack of character development and inconsistent motivations, anything is possible.

Here's a quick recap of the Fastest and Furious-est points of the film, with minimal spoilers.

The movie begins in the Canary Islands where Paul Walker and Vin Diesel's characters have settled down after apparently stealing a bunch of money. Walker is still dating Diesel's sister from the first movie (I knew those kids would make it!) and the two just had their first child. Walker attempts to show emotion, but just kind of looks like he ate some funky cheese. Still, Diesel is there to deliver a few quick lines that are funny and terribly corny at the same time.

Cut to The Rock in Russia (Isn't he an American official?) and some "vehicular warfare" group has hit something in Moscow. They've also stolen something, though we're never told what they hit or what they stole. The Rock walks around in a really tight shirt saying things like "they appear like lighting and disappear like thunder."


Then, The Rock shows up at Diesel's door, showing him a picture of Michelle Rodriguez, who apparently died sometime in the last three films… Or did she?!?!

Now, Diesel is with some hot Brazilian chick that he seems to have met in the last movie. Things must be pretty serious between the two of them because we get some serious side-boob action when they wake up. But, when she sees Diesel's reaction to the picture of Rodriguez, does she get jealous and protective of her man? No, she's all like "It's cool Vin, you can leave me, travel around the world and go find some other chick. I'll just chill here."


Then Diesel tells Walker he has to go help The Rock and find Rodriguez, but also tells him he can't go since he has a son now. But Walker says he's coming, and Diesel's like, ok. Then they begin this "family" theme. Diesel keeps talking about family, and Walker keeps talking about family, and apparently in the last few films, a Japanese guy, Tyrese, Ludacris and another chick that we don't have to care about have all become a part of that family.

Diesel also begins saying "Ride or Die" at one point as if that's, like, his motto. Did that happen in the last three films? Because that is clearly the rallying cry of DMX and the Ruff Ryderz.

Anyways, they have to chase this guy named Shaw. It's unclear why The Rock needs Diesel and Walker, because as best as I can tell, they're thieves, not capture specialists. But luckily, they have all developed James Bond skills in the last few films, so it works out. The Rock says something like, "You need wolves to catch wolves, let's go hunting."


So this guy Shaw is attacking bases and amassing "parts" to build a machine that can, like, turn off an entire country's defense system.


Chases ensue, and Shaw has little gadgets that can override a car's computer, so there is the movie's excuse to bring in bad-ass classic cars. Later on in the movie, The Rock finds one of Shaw's men at a military base where an important computer chip is located, though we are never told what the chip does, just that Shaw needs it to complete his "device."

So The Rock decides to move the chip away from the base on a truck and wait for Shaw to attack the base.

Something about "moving the egg from the hen house and waiting for the fox to come."


But, as anybody that's seen one of these movies knows, trucks always get attacked by awesome cars in sweet chase scenes. So that happens, and there may or may not be a tank involved. Lost in all this is Diesel trying to get back Rodriguez, who is working for Shaw after losing her memory. Yes, they pulled the "amnesia card." She has no recollection of who Diesel is, but somehow she remembers how to drive and tune cars.


She races Diesel and sort of falls back in love with him through his driving, or something.


I won't spoil the end for you, but trust me, the last two chase scenes are so out-of-the-realm of possibility and fantastic, you won't want to miss them. This film also does a beautiful job of making Paul Walker's horrible acting endearing, something the first film did well with short scenes and loads of memorable Vin Diesel quotes. This film does the same, but adds The Rock and Ludacris to the mix. Luda is hilarious in this movie, though I'm not sure what his role is other than "look at computer screen and tell the rest of the crew what you see."


I wanted to stab Paul Walker at the end of 2 Fast 2 Furious, I just couldn't take those scenes with him and Tyrese going on and on. I think I still held it against poor Tyrese, as I found him to be the least enjoyable thing about this movie, except for when The Rock repeatedly threatened to beat him up. That was nice.

Oh, and this movie has the obligatory "after the credits scene" you have to stay for. I hate those things, but to Fast's credit, it only waits like 10 seconds to show it, so not everyone has left the theater already. Without spoiling too much, it reveals that there will be another movie, and introduces a new character that you are going to poop your pants about.

So that's where we are. A movie about the underground sub-culture of street racing in LA with two stereo-robbing scenes has turned into 7 international heist/anti-terrorism movies. There was also a preview for a new Riddick movie starring Diesel, simply titled Riddick, before Fast 6 began.

Yep, that means we are about to enter the double-digits on films featuring Riddick and Dom Torreto.