2. They Never Forget What They Are
There’s rarely (if ever) a hint of embarrassment in the way the better Fast and the Furious movies are put together. Lin and screenwriter Chris Morgan – more so than their predecessors (Rob Cohen, John Singleton, etc.) – do not pretend to be using a sophisticated collection of character types and tropes in their storytelling. Instead, they enjoy getting to create “low art” and play everything straight without a hint of irony, hipper-than-thou sarcasm or self-awareness. (True, this can make for some unintentionally hilarious moments, but that’s just part of the fun.)
Lin’s movies, for example, are full to the brim with scantily-clad women, chiseled men, hyperactive editing, bombastic action and pulsating musical accompaniment; basically, everything that people typically identify as being “wrong” with Hollywood movies nowadays. Yet, because these films are so honest and unapologetic about what they have to offer, it allows these elements to feel all the more organic to the proceedings. Hence, Fast and the Furious movies don’t attract the same criticisms of fan service and inappropriate pandering that other blockbusters tend to get (see: Alice Eve’s strip-down in Star Trek Into Darkness).
Funnily enough, because the cast and crew of the Fast and the Furious series are so earnest in their presentation of low-grade entertainment, they are better able to produce something worthwhile. Ironically, they’re more successful than some filmmakers who set out to make artsy fare or get wrapped up in the importance of the subject matter they are exploring onscreen.
People such as Lin and Morgan recognize that pulpy and action-driven storytelling really ought to be… well, pulpy and action-oriented, and their devotion to the cause – in combination with improved skills in that style of filmmaking over the years – has contributed to this franchise becoming a well-liked money-making machine.