Who could’ve predicted that the 2001 film The Fast and the Furious - a flashy neo-Noir about the underground car racing sub-culture – would, over the decade following its release, give rise to a critically-respected global box office juggernaut?
Fast & Furious 6 is the fourth installment to be directed by Justin Lin, who is responsible for moving the series away from race drama terrain and towards the heist/thriller genre on an international playing field (starting with Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift). In Screen Rant‘s official Fast & Furious 6 review, our Ben Kendrick goes into detail with his breakdown of why Lin’s film amounts to good old popcorn movie fun.
Some people rally against these movies for being exercises in over-indulgence, be it due to the metal-crunching spectacle, the beautiful cast of men and women – who play criminals that are ripe for ogling – or the exotic vehicle and bullet car inventory. Sure, the Fast and the Furious series can be summed up as a guilty pleasure (no more, no less), yet Lin’s so-called shallow blockbusters don’t seem to generate the same passionate negative responses as, say, Michael Bay’s collective filmography.
We’ve come up with three main reasons as to why this franchise has become a modern pop-culture touchstone.
1. It’s a Superhero Franchise in Disguise
Superheroes are the spiritual descendants of deities and regular people (who land themselves in extraordinary circumstances) found throughout ancient mythology. They are, in essence, anthropomorphic metaphors whose personal struggles, conflicts, turmoil, and tribulations reflect the universal experiences of the general human population at any time in history. Comic book superhero movies are all the rage nowadays, in part because more filmmakers have come to appreciate their value as meaningful examples of storytelling.
Fast and the Furious characters like Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) possess super-human qualities – like the ability to jump from moving vehicles going hundreds of miles per hour and land with nary a scratch – but what really makes Dom as much a superhero as Batman or Iron Man – even without a costume (we’ll say his odd-fitting tight shirts don’t count) – is his higher moral calling and devotion to family. The rest of his crew, likewise, must wrestle with matters like parental responsibilities, love, greed vs. generosity, and their obligations to other people, all of which are presented in a context that reflects life in the 21st century.
No denying, it can be fun to mock the ridiculous action and melodrama found in each and every installment of the Fast and the Furious series. However, at the end of the day, these movies qualify as dyed-in-the-wool superhero movies – and well-made ones at that:
- They show people doing genuinely extraordinary things.
- The characters and their problems aren’t a secondary concern to the plot (ex. Fast & Furious 6 really IS about Dom attempting to repair his fractured family).
In that sense, they’re more successful than some of the more densely-constructed comic book superhero movies that get caught up trying to do too much (*insert your superhero movie of choice here*), which leads me to my next point…