I always say, give credit where credit is due. So give it up to Vin Diesel. He single-handedly resurrected a nearly dead franchise and made it into one of the top franchises of all time. He has milked the shit out of this and almost made us forget “The Last Witch Hunter” or “The Pacifier”…almost.
A quick timeline:
2001: Fast and the Furious. Budget 38 million, domestic 144 million. Interesting take on street racers and an undercover cop’s attempt to stop highway robberies.
2003: 2 Fast 2 Furious: Budget 76 mil, domestic 127 mil. This is where Tyrese Gibson busted out those kneepads and took care of a few people to begin his Cinderella Story career. Vin Diesel not present in this film, therefore the main characters’ dialogue not grumbled for 2 hours, critics rejoice.
2006: Tokyo Drift: Budget 85 mil, domestic 62. By far, the worst installment of the series. It starred the kid from Home Improvement and I don’t even care enough to google his name. Vin Diesel makes a late cameo. Not many lines to growl out when you appear right before credits.
2009: Fast and Furious: Budget 85, domestic 155. I didn’t give a shit to see the last 2 in the theaters and I kept the streak alive for this one. Michelle Rodriguez dies in this one, immediately digs up as much blackmail material as she can on Vin Diesel to ensure a return to the series.
2011: Fast 5: Budget 125, domestic 209. The crew ends up in Brazil, robbing the guy who screwed them in part 4. Also didn’t see this one in the theater but was pleasantly surprised when I watched on Netflix. Plot lines starting to get a liiiiiitle hard to conceive but still more palatable than Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling dancing around Hollywood. The Rock first appears as a, “take no prisoners” government agent tracking down the crew. Casting agent who made that decision hailed as a genius and innovator. Backslaps and high fives run amuck.
2013: Fast and Furious 6: Budget 160, domestic 238. Broke the streak and saw this in the theater because of the good will that part 5 brought. Michelle Rodriguez finally compiles enough blackmail material or sets up a vicious kiddie porn sting and Vin Diesel falls right into it (completely not true) as her character, Leti, is brought back into the foray. Jason Statham brings English cockney dialogue to the table as the bad guy. Spoiler note: cars take down a military plane. Slackjawed fans of the show, “Ridiculousness” fantasize about emulating this in backyards across flyover states in this great nation.
2015: Furious 7. Budget 190, domestic 351. Also saw this in the theater. Note: My doppleganger (said by several drunken women at bars), Paul Walker, died while filming. They used his brother and CGI to finish up his scenes. Nothing puts asses in the seats like an actor dying in the line of fire (pun intended). See: Brandon Lee in the Crow. See not: John Candy in Wagons East. Plot lines continue to soar past ridiculousness and straight into when 2 cars drive consecutively through 3 skyscrapers. Audiences wonder aloud, “a 5th grader come up with these stunts, right?” Dialogue is as monosyllabic as humanly possible.
2017: Fate of the Furious. Budget 250 million, domestic opening weekend 136 and worldwide 674. Biggest worldwide opening ever.
Notably absent: Paul Walker (death) and Jordana Brewster (recruited into MENSA and becoming a top 5 Pinterest contributor…just kidding) Vin Diesel turns against his crew as newcomer villain Charlize Theron makes him do things he doesn’t want to do; like take an acting class or properly enunciate. All kidding aside, Toretto goes rogue after a job after Cypher (Theron) shows his something that shakes him to the core. Out goes loyalty and Toretto’s favorite word, “family.” This film takes the cake when it comes to absurdity. First of all, the crew races through Times Square at least 50 miles an hour. Not even cop cars on a high speed chase through that area reach that speed. There’s a chase scene with zombie cars (hacked by Cypher) blocking for Toretto and creating havoc down Manhattan streets. Cars are literally falling from the sky from parking garages. And the scene we’ve all scene in the previews; a nuclear sub chasing down cars on a sheet of ice. There’s “suspending disbelief” for the sake of the art and then there’s the, “Enough is fucking enough.” And that’s where I am. I yearn again for the days of simple street racers trying to rob truckers of their goods with an attempt of a twist.
And the dialogue, wow. It’s like some poor intern was tasked with going through the annals of action film dialogue and had to pick out every cliche ever uttered. Then, the cliches were placed into a “Mad-Libs” format into the dialogue. Jesus Christ, I could barely find 25 lines which were original thoughts. If you really want to partake in a drinking game, do a shot every time some utters something from an action film in the last 30 years. If there was an acting coach for this film, I dub that the EASIEST job ever. “You! Just be give me an eye roll when a snarky comment is made. And you! Give me a semi-surpised look when a nuclear sub shoots onto a frozen lake!” I get it, none of these characters are in danger of being recruited to sit in on ways to combat global warming. But goddamn, these lines are so recycled, you would’ve smelled compost heaps throughout the film while sitting in the theater.
I’m done paying to see this franchise, again. They screwed it up again after part 5 levitated it from the ashes and just made it dumber than any Michael Bay sequel. Action is great and I’ll never stop seeing action films. But when it’s dragged down by awful dialogue and beyond unreasonable stunts to the deepest part of the Mariana Trench, this is where I unbuckle my seatbelt and jump out of a moving car on the Autobahn.