Why Fast and the Furious is Still Winning the Race
Are you a big Hollywood producer stuck for ideas on your newest project? Perhaps the worst career move would be to take the easy way out and make a sequel… or ten. It seems as though the majority of blockbusters that open with popularity and profit go on to be horribly ruined in the following years by dreadful sequels. Think about Grease, Scream, and The Matrix. What do these three films have in common? They started off as much loved original concepts, and turned into much hated ‘already seen it’ sequels.
However, hope is not lost. With the latest release of Fast and the Furious Six, this action packed franchise proves that a film can, in fact, age better with time. The sixth instalment of fast cars and fast action has unexpectedly beat Will Smith’s new blockbuster After Earth in the race to number one spot at the US box office. It opened to a staggering $120 million in the US over Memorial Day weekend. Unbelievably, each film in the series has opened bigger and better than its predecessor (with exceptions to Tokyo Drift). Why stop at six? Don’t panic, the seventh instalment has already been announced for release in 2014. So, how does this action-packed franchise continue to soar? Well, here’s how:
It’s a no-brainer. There is next to no thinking required when experiencing these films; action happens and we take it in. Who wants to go to the cinema and actually use their brain to think about what’s going on? Obviously not the audience for Fast and Furious. All six films continue to use the same concepts: street racing, robbery, action, a lot of fighting and a bit more car racing. These concepts work well with the targeted audience of young males. What young guy wouldn’t want to spend two hours staring at hot babes, watching car chases, and looking at people being punched in the face? Director Justin Lin has cleverly made the plot line detailed enough to not make us fall asleep, while remaining uncomplicated and straightforward.
The Fast and Furious franchise has learnt over the twelve years of production who keeps coming back for more. The answer is people everywhere, from every corner of the earth. The studio have accentuated this cultural diversity and placed it strategically in every sequel. From Puerto Rico to London, Spain to Los Angeles, the locations have been diverse and plenty. Each subsequent film has had most of its revenue from international audiences and foreign markets. The sizeable cast highlights this broad culture even further. Michelle Rodriguez is the stunning lead woman of Puerto Rican and Dominican descent; Jordana Brewster is a Brazilian beauty, and her co-star Luke Evans originates from Wales. Throw some American, Israeli, and Korean talent into the mix and you’ve got one of the most culturally diverse casts ever created.
The stunts are real. Okay, I don’t mean that these colossal car crashes and extreme high-speed chases actually happen on a daily basis, but they are filmed quite realistic. Director Justin Lin was slammed pretty heavily about using too much computer-generated imagery in Fast 4; with car enthusiasts complaining it was too exaggerated. Lin took this on board and cut down on the CGI for Fast 5 and continued to do so for the newest Fast 6. While some stunts are still over-the-top and require CGI enhancement, Lin argues that he has focused on limiting its use, saying there are effects but the approach and the coverage in it at the end of the day is not even noticeable at all. This preference for using practical effects gives the film a unique flavour, allowing the audience to immerse them even further into their desired fantasy, making it a reasonable aspiration.
Speaking of aspirations, one of the ultimate male fantasies is to drive fast cars and be surrounded by hot women. Fast and the Furious has conjured up the finest fantasy for men to live vicariously through. It’s the experience that we will never really be able to satisfy that keeps us coming back for more. Knowing that it is illegal to undertake ridiculously high-speed car chases and become a part of an underground car culture, men still feel the need to live it somehow. That somehow is through the cinema experience of Fast and the Furious. It is the ultimate escape that allows the male mind to wander and imagine the possibilities of this fantasised lifestyle. Fast & the Furious 6 is a dramatization of many freedoms that are only possible through watching the film. Even Michelle Rodriguez stated on the red carpet that she was living out every boys fantasy of driving fast cars, and that’s what kept them coming back to watch more.
There is absolutely nothing to take away from these films. When customers are walking out of the cinema, I usually come across a sea of emotions drawn plainly on their faces. Sometimes there’s a look of inspiration, sometimes a look of hope, and sometimes a look of confusion. But when they walk out of the screening of Fast and the Furious all I seem to find is a look of exhilaration followed by the loud cheers and grunts of “that was so awesome!” This is because, unlike deeper dramas and action films, Fast and the Furious has no positive underlying messages, no positive role models, no real heroes and no in-depth romantic love stories. Instead, it boasts violence, drugs, alcohol, sex, and filthy language. And that’s exactly what the audience wants, plain and simple.
Fast and the Furious 6 is back stronger and faster once again. Over a decade of car chases has lead us to this pivotal moment… of another car chase. So what are you waiting for? Race down and see what ‘The Rock’ is cooking for you this time.
What do you think? Leave a comment.