Why You Should Rethink The Fast & Furious Franchise

KATEY: Do you have any background/love for the Fast & Furious franchise?

SEAN: Well, yes. I mean, I've seen them all. I actually loved Fast Five. And I was really impressed with last night's spot.

KATEY: I've noticed a ton of commenters responding to last night's trailer with "Whatever, these movies suck!!!" So I want to figure out a way to be like "listen, guys, it transformed itself completely from where it started. Give it a shot." I have only seen 4 & 5, though 4 was boring as hell and loooooved 5.

SEAN: Yeah, I'm trying to remember Four as I type this, and can't.

KATEY: it involves Mexico and the desert.

SEAN: Oh, shit. Yeah. With that tunnel that went underground?! That was terrible.

KATEY: Yup! Totally terrible.

SEAN: But yeah, the franchise should be out of Movie Jail after Five. It totally saved itself. I can pick it up from here ….

SEAN: Katey, I was most surprised to find that the second trailer to completely blow me away (after the Iron Man 3 spot, which was fantastic) was the trailer for Fast and the Furious 6. That series has completely shifted gears -- pun intended -- from the dregs of Tokyo Drift and the bland fourth installment. Fast Five put it back on the right track, and I'm not ashamed to say that I'm genuinely looking forward to a F&F sequel. Are you with me?

KATEY: I'm totally with you on Fast Five-- but I think some people need convincing on what made it so great. When I go back to remembering it all I can think of is pumping my fists in the air with triumph when they went over the goddamn cliff in the car and survived. It starts off like a Looney Tunes cartoon, and pretty much ends that way too. But I think a live-action Looney Tunes cartoon is the destiny of this franchise, and it just took them 4 movies to figure it out.

SEAN: Maybe. I'm singling out one addition to the franchise that, for me, helped it turn the corner: Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson. The ensemble consistently grew from sequel to sequel. But the focus kept falling on Diesel because he simply has more screen presence than Paul Walker or Tyrese. Johnson became another massive, glowing sun around which this franchise can spin, and so long as he's willing to play ball in the F&F universe, I think these sequels can exist on another plane.

That being said, if Six ends up being as unremarkable as the fourth Fast films, I think it's right back to Movie Jail for the series. Don't you? I'm keeping the franchise on a short leash!

KATEY: I don't know-- one look at that car flying through the cockpit of the flaming plane and I was 100% in. And I'm right there with you on The Rock. I find him compulsively likable in absolutely everything, and so long as he and Vin Diesel are getting up in each others' faces and sweating, I have to assume I'll enjoy it a little bit.

But for people who weren't convinced by Fast Five... how can we talk them into keeping some faith?

SEAN: I'm willing to believe that the people who are bitching about this new one didn't bother to see Fast Five. And after the third and fourth films, I can't say that I blame them. Case in point: Critics could write until they are blue in the face that Breaking Dawn: Part Two reinvented cinema. (It didn't, but bare with me here.) Non-fans still aren't likely to check it out, because if they watched the first few movies, they'd been burned, and they weren't willing to try it again.

If anything, I'd try to convince people to give Fast Five a spin if they haven't yet. Yes, it LOOKS like more of the same. But for various reasons -- from the plotting to the casting to the insane stunts -- it simply works better than any other film in the series ... and if they're able to build on that success, then the sixth could be a breakout hit of the summer blockbuster season.

KATEY: Absolutely. Especially right after the release of Bullet to the Head, which promised all this brawny action and was just totally boring, I can see why people are skeptical. But I think it goes back to what I said about Fast Five being a live-action Looney Tunes cartoon. It's willing to go there with the action, the absurdity and the surprisingly sharp humor in this way that pretty much nothing else is. Most franchises try to play it safe as they get older, but these movies seem to be doing the opposite.

At a time when so many blockbusters require piecing together all the comic book backstories and figuring out which character is showing up in the post-credits scene, I love that Fast & Furious 6 promises a standalone story and a ton of action that's not about superpowers, just the rules of physics and how to break them.

SEAN: Exactly. Plus, I think it's fair to point out that the longer director Justin Lin lives in this universe, the more he's figuring out how to maneuver around fast-moving car-based action clips and stunts. He has improved drastically as a director ... specifically, a Fast and the Furious director. There's a LOT to be said for continuity, and I think the improvement of the stunts from film to film prove that.

KATEY: Honestly, everything has improved. And if people can't trust the word of people like us, who had no interest in the first four films, who else should they trust?

SEAN: They should trust the eyeball test, which Fast Six passed last night. In terms of action star power, that Super Bowl clip had it last night. In terms of original stunts few have ever seen before, that Super Bowl clip had it last night. And the reveal of Michelle Rodriguez at the very end feeds into what I believe the Fast movies have become over the years. You say Looney Tunes cartoons, and that's accurate. But they also have been a long-running daytime soap opera, with recurring characters coming back from the dead, and melodramatic subplots that barely hold our interest in between the next car race and explosion. Fast Six passed the eyeball test with its trailer last night. Couple that clip with the overwhelmingly positive buzz Fast Five generated, and you are only cheating yourself if you don't hop on this speeding bandwagon and enjoy the ride!

Katey Rich

Staff Writer at CinemaBlend