Tuesday, 17 February 2015
Hold On, Hold On, You Can't Keep a Fast Car Out of the Race... Actually You Can
I was bored and looking for something to watch when I realized that The Fast and the Furious was available on Netflix. Being the action movie enthusiast that I am I decided to give it a viewing and see if it was any good because why the heck not? I can think of a few reasons. I got through about the first 10-15 minutes before shutting it off because this one turned out really not to be worth it at all. I didn't even get 15 minutes in and already the problems were beginning to show themselves and I just couldn't take it.
Let me get straight to the point and the big problem with this one: it makes no sense... at all. It was the same problem I had with Hard Boiled, ten minutes in and the movie has done nothing to set anything up in a meaningful way. I couldn't tell who the hero was or who I was supposed to be rooting for. There was no apparent depth to any of the characters or any obvious plot the movie seemed to be setting in motion. All I saw was some tough-looking men, some Latino women who for some reason were all dressed in outfits that exposed their stomachs, and a bunch of cars and trucks driving around and people I didn't know beating each other up for no apparent reason.
From what I gather the movie is supposed to be about drag racing or something along those lines. As far as I can tell, the person intended to be the hero is Brian O'Connor (Paul Walker)... who is this guy? The movie gives nothing that I could see. There was no emotional connection, no backstory, no motivation, no goals. I did not see a single thing that gave me a reason to care what happened to him. Then somehow Vin Diesel apparently has a role somewhere as a big tough race car driver or something. Then a bunch of cars drive around and crash into things. That's about the extent of the plot from what I saw.
Vin Diesel can actually be enjoyable when given a good script (as in Guardians of the Galaxy), but here he's nothing but a big guy who seems to do nothing more than stand around showing off his enormous muscles. From what I saw of Michelle Rodriguez, she was not much better, even though she has since been in some far better action films like S.W.A.T. and Battle: Los Angeles. It looked like the filmmakers were trying to make her a tough female character which elevates The Fast and The Furious slightly above the level of The Rock, but I'm not entirely convinced they succeeded.
On some level I think The Fast and the Furious may have fallen into an easy trap for action movies, and that is the assumption that they should be based primarily on... well.. action. That is not entirely true. While an action movie should have plenty of action, simply including a bunch of car chases and explosions isn't going to make your movie exciting. Good action movies like The Terminator and its sequel Terminator 2: Judgment Day don't simply put Arnold Schwarzenegger in a truck and send him driving around blowing stuff up while Linda Hamilton tries to outsmart him.
What makes The Terminator and Terminator 2 work as action movies is that they actually give the character of Sarah Connor a personality and emotional depth. The reason John McClane is such an iconic action movie hero isn't just because he beats up and kills a bunch of pseudo-terrorists, it's because he has a motivation for doing so and it's in the curious "wise-guy" attitude he develops towards it. This was precisely the same problem that Rambo: First Blood Part II had: so much action is shoved in that the movie forgets to give us a reason to connect with anybody involved.
Ultimately, don't bother with The Fast and the Furious. It's too confusing and pretty much nothing more than a waste of time that only takes ten minutes to be completely lost (if even that) with no idea of what is going on or who you're supposed to be cheering for. It is a waste of time and a very good of example of what not to do when trying to make an exciting action film. If you want an exciting movie about race cars, there are probably far better options, or you could just play Lego Racers or Mario Kart. Either way, I don't recommend this one.