- First Film: The Fast & The Furious June 22, 2001
You look at the Fast & Furious films and you need to wonder how a film series that started out about street racing evolved into a superspy series where the spies used cars and generally defied physics. If you watch the first one and the ninth one and nothing in between the evolution would be incomprehensible. If you watch the series from the start to the most recent one you can see the change.
I enjoy the Fast & Furious films in all their incarnations. I liked the street racing and I liked the superspy stuff. From the moral complexity of the first to the simplistic yet epic world threatening good versus evil of the current crop. I perhaps am more tolerant of the superspy stuff than others. They just do not make them very much anymore.
Yes, you can mock the whole family thing, but it’s something from the beginning of the series though it’s become pushed to the front and center. It was beneath the surface but now it’s become very overt and that’s the flaw. Not the focus on family, but that the series has been beating you over the head with it.
My major problem with the series is that it’s taken on a logic that borders on what Michael Bay did with the Transformers series or what was done with the Resident Evil films. Things get retconned and elements get undone that even in some of the most reality bending worlds would be hard to justify. And this world does bend reality.
Now they are just damn fun. They are pure entertainment. While that’s a good thing that’s also a bad thing. Entertainment has lost the ability to produce movies that are straight entertainment. I’m not talking about something forgettable but something that’s enjoyable time after time and generation after generation. Too often films are stuck on their own importance when they are not important at all, and they lose their enjoyment.
But the loss of the complexity and deeper, more serious nature that was in the first film is something that’s to be mourned. Personally I think you could have something that’s entertaining and deeper but that’s a tough balancing act. At this point I don’t think they can go back and reinvent the wheel again. You only get so many shots at the repackaging of a property and those number of shots vary from property to property.
But is this series something to be derided? Are these films something to be mocked? No. They’re entertaining. They’re fun.
These films fill an untapped area in the entertainment market now. Or you could even call it a neglected area. What is that? The super spy film. There aren’t many super spies left. And the ones that are around tend to come and go pretty quickly. The only real remainder is James Bond and that character has moved into a much more grounded realm than he used to be. The Fast films have moved into the fun zone that he once occupied and ruled. Much like Bond, they have their own set of gadgets and gimmicks and tropes which make them stand out from all others that may attempt to move in.
And we need or would like just to believe that there is some well-funded or well-equipped group of people working to keep us safe from the truly evil threats of the world. That is a comforting fantasy. We also like to think that one person or even a group of good people can rise to the occasion and defeat evil soundly. And maybe that’s ultimately what keeps these movies going.
Ultimately I feel the Fast films can be enjoyed both for what they once were and for what they currently are. Just embrace the change.