As Fast & Furious 6 roars on to Sky Movies, we salute the most brilliantly brash and barmily enjoyable franchise ever to come out of the Hollywood chop shop.
The Fast and Furious movies have grown from a medium budget surprise box office hit, to an unstoppable behemoth of action and madness- a celebration of crooks, cars and carnage. A franchise most definitely not brought to you in association with Greenpeace, no solar panels or wind turbines were hurt in the making of these films.
Love them, or hate yourself for loving them, here are 8 reasons why The Fast & The Furious may just be the most perfect popcorn franchise ever devised:
1. IT’S LOUD
Summer is approaching. No-one wants to hear the sounds of bees buzzing, birdsong and lawns mowed. What is this? 1952? It’s the 21st century. People don’t want peace and quiet and silence and pastoral contemplation. They want NOISE. And in cinemas, they want their decibels cranked. Fast And Furious 6 IS LOUD. LOUD like a misfiring jet engine. LOUD like a jackhammer in a tunnel. LOUD. Loud enough to drown out fellow cinema audience members on their phones, talking, shovelling greasy food in their face and arriving late. LOUD enough to dissuade old people from the auditorium with their boiled sweets and snoring. It’s also LOUD enough to drown out the dialogue. This isn’t a film for listening, it’s a film for hearing. For hearing cars and tanks and planes and things blowing up. Blockbuster-tastic.
2. THE PLOT IS SIMPLE
It’s a popcorn movie. We’re not here to concentrate, we’re here to consume. Of course the plot is simple. We’re here for the spectacle, not the narrative. We don’t want smart dialogue and dense plotting intruding upon our gawping. The original Fast and the Furious was basically Point Break in cars. It was genius- the audience already knew the plot. We already knew the outcome. We didn’t need to waste our energy learning things and absorbing new information. What is this? School? We don’t want unexpected plot twists forcing us to focus. We want plots as simple, affirming and unsurprising as a welcoming hot bath. We want to relax into it and soak away the grime and tedium of real life.
3. PAUL WALKER IS IN IT
Now admittedly, despite having ‘actor’ stamped on his passport, the late Paul Walker was never likely to bother the Oscar voters. But if they made leading men in a factory, he is what they would look like. A handsome, deep voiced, unthreatening, seemingly good guy with an 8-pack you could grate cheese on, he’s the kind of bloke your sister could always date with your approval. He was the perfect popcorn movie actor.
4. THE ROCK IS IN IT
Hiring The Rock for Fast Five was a masterstroke- turn the film into a heist movie and make the baddie a goodie. Popcorn genius. Yes, as a superstar WWE wrestler, Dwayne Johnson is used to elevating poor quality material, and has built a hugely successful film career upon it. His potent charisma matched with great eyebrow work embodies popcorn cinema: big, loud, fearless, and inherently, enjoyably silly. In terms of physique, The Rock is now so ripped and stacked, he makes Vin Diesel look like Danny DeVito. Not since Megashark vs Giant Octopus have two such enormous adversaries faced off.
5. VIN DIESEL IS IN IT
We love Vin Diesel. He has now largely given up acting in favour of becoming a human prop- moved around the set in order to add atmosphere. His voice, while always gravelly, is now getting so low that only dogs can hear it. Popcorn audiences struggle to make out Vin’s dialogue as their seats vibrate wildly as though caught in a minor earthquake. The Rock may be bigger, but the deepness of Vin’s voice makes Dwayne sound like Joe Pasquale in comparison. Bravo.
6. THINGS EXPLODE
It’s a summer blockbuster. Don’t bother us with the complexity of human relationships or the importance and immediacy of political imperatives. We want things exploding. Loudly. Regularly. We want to see stuff blow up and no-one care about the clean up costs or the heftily raised insurance premiums. We want car vs car explosions, tank vs car explosions, car vs plane explosions. We want explosions next to bigger explosions. Unexpected explosions. Big explosions. Unexpectedly big explosions. In London. Boom.
7. PRETTY GIRLS (AND BOYS) ABOUND
Despite the barely disguised homo-erotic undertones of the Fast & Furious franchise, there are beautiful people everywhere. Eye candy for all. And Pretty girls, skimpily clad. We don’t even need to hear them talk that often. You have opinions? Why don’t you iron me a shirt while I’m not listening to you share them? This is a summer popcorn movie. Jane Campion isn’t directing a fight scene. Sofia Coppola isn’t overseeing a helicopter stunt. Andrea Arnold doesn’t do car chases. We don’t want insight, intelligence and subtlety- show us a close up of a bikini. And while we’re at it- Walker, strip that shirt off- we’re all about equality during blockbuster season.
8. IT’S FUN, BONKERS AND UTTERLY ESCAPIST
The Fast and Furious franchise is relentless, merciless and terrific. Bored? How can you be? Something is happening ALL THE TIME. The only time things aren't happening is when characters briefly explain what's about to happen. Logic? What is this? A philosophy class? The Fast & Furious franchise hasn't grossed over $1.6bn with reasoned exposition and adherence to the laws of physics. By God, if a man needs to jump from one car to another at speed before a tank drives over him, then he can and he will. This isn't Schindler's List. We are revelling in the glamour of idiocy here. Like cake, smoking, and cheating on your partner- the Fast & Furious franchise is not good for you, but it is hugely enjoyable.
No franchise is more boisterous, foolish, fantastical or fun.
And shouldn't that be the very definition of popcorn cinema?