Fast & Furious 6
Speaking of additions to crazy successful franchises. Dominic Toretto and rest of his band of merry cranksters are back doing what they do best: driving real fast and acting real poorly. Where the Fast and Furious franchise differs from The Hangover (besides the obvious) is that it cleared the second and third installment malaise and kept trucking right on ahead into more critically acclaimed and lucrative territory. Before we delve further into this mystery, let’s look at the facts (Tokyo Drift excluded):

The Fast and the Furious (52%) $207 million box office

2 Fast 2 Furious (36%) $236 million box office

Fast & Furious (27%) $363 million box office

Fast Five (78%) $626 million box office

So the question is: What the [email protected]#$ with that last one? How does it so powerfully outperform its predecessors in both metrics? The simple answer would be: it’s better. But I don’t really believe that to be true. I’m sure to the Fast and Furious connoisseur there are micro, and maybe some macro, distinctions that make this a superior product. But to the undiscerning eye, many similarities exist. The director was Justin Lin (also did Fast & Furious) and the cast is relatively identical to the previous films. The acting is rough to say the least. The cars are just as cool. The stunts are a bit bigger. But the plot points remain consistent (read: silly) and the basic conceit of the other films is there. Why the spike in praise and dollars? Because car lovers and Vin Diesel fans alone don’t account for this kind of uptick. I think it comes down to one thing: expectations.

I think after a number of less-than-stellar sequels to the first film, people had resigned themselves to a certain Fast and Furious fate. The franchise was sort of a running joke, predicated on Diesel’s and Walker’s monosyllabic acting chops and the idea that the “cars are the main character.” But then all of a sudden, Fast Five is coming and people are like, “Wait, they’re still doing this? And it’s not, like, a joke? Nice, game on!” And people head to the theaters expecting to ironically laugh at everything. And they do, and now all of a sudden people like the movie. Because it is a joke. But everyone knows its a joke now (I suspect even the actors). And when everyone’s in on the joke, then the stakes change a bit. The expectations are diminished, allowing for people (and critics) to walk into the theater expecting very little and walking out pleasantly surprised.

Do I think this latest installment will be good? No, none of the movies in this franchise are good. But it’ll for damned sure be entertaining. The action is high, the acting is well, who cares about the acting, and the cars are cool. You know what you’re getting and that’s fine. And unlike maybe The Hangover III the expectations are low. The Rotten Watch for Fast & Furious 6 is 72%

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