Saturday, 9 May 2015

Fast, Furious and Fascinating.

The initial hype and excitement has receded and the queues at the multiplex are already moving onto the next blockbuster when I finally allow myself to be dragged along to the latest Fast and Furious film.

And to be honest, the franchise genuinely fascinates me. Particularly the fact that with this many sequels to its name it still guarantees itself a top billing due not just to petrol heads and actions fans, somehow morphing itself into a cinematic event with a global audience that is gripped by the further exploits of these former street-racers whose ongoing antics have taken them further than the initial concept should feasibly allow.

Boiled down to the basics these movies were essentially a testosterone fuelled mix of fast cars, the casting of scantily clad extras to gyrate, jiggle and share the screen when the aforementioned cars were stationary, and some action packed set-pieces to quicken the pulse. This formula was then taken and multiplied, with the inclusion of a ever-growing rotating cast of characters until it flipped the script on a possible future of sketchy sequels with diminishing returns and marked itself as a legitimately bankable franchise with the reemergence of Vin Diesel for the fourth instalment.

It has hardly hit pause since, with the rotating cast being brought together as 'family' for heists and adding additional big-hitting action stars to the mix to create a boiling pot of machismo that trumps the premise of The Expendables fused with the crime-caper team-up of Oceans 11 and it's own sequels. The Rock, Jason Statham, Kurt Russell... I can hardly wait to see who they draft in next time.

I'll admit that my own interest wobbled slightly when scriptwriters have pushed more story rather than just fast-thrills and maybe the London based adventure felt too close to home for me to sufficiently suspend my disbelief, but thankfully Furious 7 remedied this by being so unbelievable that turning off and tuning in was the only option.

The whole thing, from start to finish, was bat-shit crazy. Almost every logical next step in the story was sideswiped in favour of more jaw-dropping preposterousness, fights and fast cars and military operations and so forth, all turbo-charged with barely a toe dipped in reality, it became hilarious in its audacity, but by consistently topping itself in each new scene it had me enthralled.


Forget street-racers, criminals and FBI agents, everyone involved in these films have now been granted superpowers and clobber each other in ways that even the Marvel Cinematic Universe would shy away from, the plot structure played just like a 16-bit video game with baddies periodically turning up at the end of level to take a beating and then disappear until the next stage, and the plot holes are more like gaping wormholes, but it doesn't matter, because it's fun. Seriously, I have seen criticism and vitriol poured on superhero movies for inconsistencies and unbelievable circumstances.... think about that for a moment, movies... about superheroes... that do not exist!! But Furious 7 leaps these minor details with a steroid injected stride that carries it to some higher level of action film.

But with the inevitability of another sequel looming large I just don't know where the franchise could go next while it travels on this kind of trajectory.

Or perhaps I do... With the rumour of Jump Street crossing over with Men In Black for an upcoming sequel it seems that this franchise-hopping may be the obvious escalation needed to keep the Furious films from slowing their pace. It is a well used concept in comics and has been seen in video games, but only on rare occasions have these pop-culture mash-ups made it to the big screen, but I'm going to be disappointed if the next chapter in the story does not feature a climactic battle with Dominic Toretto at the wheel of Optimus Prime or Bumblebee. Perhaps a computer hacking angle could be replayed to counter Cyberdine Systems and the apocalyptic rise of Skynet. And the crowning glory of the movie will be Robocop joining the fray as a shining beacon of hope as he rides in to save the day on a majestic mech-unicorn that has been custom fitted with NOS.


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