The Fast and the Furious

Everybody seems to love The Fast and the Furious.
No kidding, there are seven sequels and a spin-off. It’s also the seventh highest-grossing film franchise ever.

So what kept me from jumping into this highly profitable franchise?
Well, just about everything. The Fast and the Furious just sounded like another action film among the dozens that seemed to crop up around that time. It looked like a lot of racing and over the top masculinity. When the series had a renewed interest by the fourth or fifth film I was going to give it a go until a friend of mine told me the timeline is out of order. From what I gathered, the third film is a bit of an anomaly and takes place after further sequels, and it was enough to turn me off. Then the popularity of the franchise was so big it was generating over a billion dollars a movie and the marketing was all in your face. From the trailers, it reminded me of the Transformers franchise which was following the same upward trajectory, except I saw the first two and they were terrible. It wasn’t until I saw the trailer for the horribly titled Fast and Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw that I saw potential interest in it. Fast forward to last night and without further ado, I watched it.

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You would be wrong, if like me you thought this movie was going to be about racing. That’s all just the background. The Fast and the Furious is about respect, and family wrapped up in a crime story. The story starts with some juiced up street racing cars hijacking a truck full of electronic merchandise. They do it flawlessly. They are trained and professionals at this type of literal highway robbery. The next scene we are introduced to Brian (Paul Walker), a pretty boy getting himself into an arena he doesn’t belong. That arena is street racing and he wants to take on Dominic (Vin Diesel) the head of a Los Angeles illegal street racing crew. Brian goes in headstrong in the race but just loses out. It was enough to gain the respect of Dominic and the two become buddies. Before long Dominic brings Brian into his family, and then we find out that Brian is an undercover cop trying to find out who is behind the hijackings. Brian starts falling for Dominic’s sister and finds it hard to be objective as he is pulled further into Dominic’s crew. Along the way, Brian is being pressured by his bosses to pinpoint who the criminals are, and Dominic is mixed up in a turf war between another crew. Everything that brews together comes to a climatic and action-packed end.

It turns out The Fast and the Furious is quite a good film. There is a lot to like. The characters all feel like family by the end, and that’s where the heart of the film is. Through the eyes of Brian, we see these people we don’t relate to at first until we see their bond and respect for each other over time. It all becomes heartfelt. I can only assume that this is the theme that runs through the franchise, even as the trailers show some ridiculous stunts, and I mean ridiculous. I enjoyed Paul Walker in Pleasantville, and Varsity Blues before this, but his acting is still very similar overall. Considering how beloved he was at the time of his death, he must completely grow as an actor and into his character in the later films.

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The editing is effective at making all the racing scenes seem adrenaline-fueled. I recall it being talked about on the documentary The Cutting Edge: The Magic of Movie Editing. I bought the movie Bullitt on Blu-ray years ago just because this feature-length documentary was on there. I still haven’t watched Bullitt to date. The documentary is on Youtube and worth a watch. Check it out below:

I know how outrageous this franchise gets in the later films, so my curiosity is peaked and I question how they can keep it together for so long. For now, I’ll leave those curiosities up in the air and return to the franchise sooner than I have in the past.

Robert Ring

Bumblebee​

There is no way I could have told you that a Transformers film would be one of my favorite films of 2018. I’m talking Top 10. And this is coming from a guy who thought the first Transformers (2007) film was terrible, and the sequel Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen was the worst film I’d ever seen.

It was the day after seeing Bumblebee that I thought about how I could actually love this film when it hit me. It’s not really a Transformers film, sure it’s got robots and loosely connects it to the beginning of the franchise. But this movie is a throwback film to the 80s in nearly every way. If it has any faults, it’s because it is too nostalgic. To best describe Bumblebee I would call it an E.T the Extra-Terrestrial with Herbie as the main character.

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Bumblebee starts on Cybertron where there is a war between the Decepticons and the Autobots. Optimus Prime sends Bumblebee to Earth to wait for him and the rebellion. Also on route to Earth are two Decepticons that try hunting Bumblebee down. This sends Bumblebee into hiding until he meets Charlie (Hailee Steinfeld). Charlie is that typical 80s kid that’s sort of a loner and is dealing with missing her deceased dad. Her dad was the only person that made her truly happy and helped her be a better person. Bumblebee begins to fulfill that role, but as soon as she really begins to bond with Bumblebee, the Decepticons enter the fray.

If like me, you didn’t like the Transformers films you should give this one a watch. It didn’t make me interested enough to learn more about the Transformers franchise, and honestly, I’m ok with this being a one shot without a sequel. I would probably rather it.

Check this out if you want an 80s throwback film. It’s part nostalgia, part campy, and an overall feel-good movie. Oh, and another thing, it’s Michael Bay free.

Robert Ring