If things had worked out differently, I don’t think I would have ended up watching any of the Fast and Furious films. I like pretty people driving gorgeous cars as much as the next person, probably more so, but I wasn’t convinced they could make one feature length film out of such a thing, let alone seven.
Yet, those seven movies later, I’m an emotional wreck.
Paul Walker’s death was meaningless to me at the time, but is now steeped in so much poignancy it physically hurts to think about. The iconic stunts in their unbelievable and ridiculous nature still manage to take my breath away. And hearing any suped up car makes me do a double take of joy rather than disgust. I have genuinely never been so affected, so bruised by films, to the point where I have absolutely needed to take a break from the big screen. I’ve only just worked up the strength to post the Film Watch review and that’s over a week later.
How is it that a series of films that had potentially some of the worst acting in history has gripped me so? Can it be possible that a bunch of stories littered with as many plot holes as bullet holes had me riveted to my seat? What is it about this group of misfits wreaking havoc on any city they descend upon that has had such an impact on me?
The answer is: I have no idea. But what a journey it’s been.
I blame Apple entirely. I was vaguely aware of the films being made and released but they were never on my radar as something to dip into. Then a series of events occurred that led me on this emotionally challenging path.
Firstly, the seventh film was released and stayed in the charts for so long that Mr C and I started wondering if we were missing out on something. Then, I realised the Rock was in the series and Mr C realised that Ana Lucia had found work post-LOST. And then, most crucially of all, the iTunes Bundle of all seven films was loaded with behind the scenes extras and reduced to less than £35. It was inevitable, then.
If you’ve watched the entire series, you probably know how this part of the story goes: I liked the first film, Mr C was slightly less enthusiastic. The second was a similar story, but sadly missing Vin Diesel. By the third film, we really were starting to wonder if we should have put the £35 towards buying our own muscle car and doing a better job with it.
You need those early films to plant the seeds of what comes later, but it’s not until the fourth film that the genius and the real heart of this series starts. By F&F4, the misfits are starting to find their way towards each other, and rather than just racing for the sake of it, they’re now driving those fast cars for a significant, albeit far-fetched, reason.
Sometimes it was chasing Mexican bandits, occasionally it was driving a safe through the streets of Brazil, and other times it was battling a tank on the highway, all of it was ridiculous but brilliant. Vin Diesel was consistently convinced that giving people a sharp look and reminding them he was part of a “family” would stop them from shooting him, and somehow it always did. Brian went from being a cop to a criminal to a cop to a criminal, whilst somehow a Brazilian policewoman became a criminal’s girlfriend before deciding to join the FBI when he dropped her. Is that even logistically possible?
I could write and write and write about the plots and the characters, and it would all sound insane. The more you try and put into coherent sentences, the more it sounds like you’ve had one too many Coronas.
There were good things too, obviously. The way they all stand up for each other, and for what they believe in. The moments that proved loyalty above all things is rewarded in the end. That Mia didn’t try to hold Brian back just because they had started a family. The way the Rock burst open his own plaster cast with his ridiculous arm muscles.
But still, despite the dodgy dialogue and the over-the-top bad guys, despite the implausibly long racing sequences that require extensive runways and stretches of straight roads 100 miles long, despite the fact we’re supposed to believe Vin jumped from a moving car across a bridge, caught his girlfriend in mid-air after she was thrown from a tank and both landed safely on top of another car, despite ALL OF THAT, it’s some of the best work I’ve ever seen.
I wish there was a way to bottle what was created during these films. I wish there was a way the future sequels could continue in the same vein. But more than anything, I wish I could just go back and watch them all again, from start to finish, and revel in every single second of it. Because I might laugh at Vin Diesel and his extended family, but boy, it was so good to feel for even the smallest moment like it might include you.