The Fast & Furious Franchise: Why It’s So Great

I love the Fast & Furious franchise. Yes, they’re supremely campy and about as realistic as spotting Bigfoot in the wild, but for most car guys of my generation, they occupy a special place in our nostalgic, petrol-filled hearts. The Fast and The Furious the first time that I was properly exposed to “tuning culture”. Sure I was reading Import Tuner, Super Street and had a loose understanding of modification, but I was only in 8th grade and a long way from owning my own car. The Fast and The Furious made owning an exciting car a realistic possibility for all of us. The characters in the film weren’t driving Ferraris and Porsches, they were driving Hondas and Nissans. They were cars you’d see on a daily basis and it made the dream of owning something flashy, loud and (potentially) fast, attainable.

6 films later and the franchise is still going strong. Fast Five was the highest grossing and in my opinion, the best film of the series. I only see the sequel doing better. A 60 second teaser aired during the Super Bowl and the following day, there was a 3 minute extended trailer online. Judging by the footage, Fast & Furious 6 looks to be another 2 hours of car porn coupled with the most unrealistic plot imaginable. I think it looks fantastic.

The Fast & Furious franchise doesn’t care about winning awards or pleasing critics. It’s only goal is to have as much fun as possible. With ticket prices bordering the obscene, there are few ways to get better value for your money at the theater. One of the reasons the franchise is so successful is because it sticks to a recipe that works: exciting cars, attractive women and plenty of action. The Fast & Furious films aren’t concerned with our perception of reality or even with their own. The character Han died in Tokyo Drift, yet he’s still part of Toretto’s crew 7 years later. If director Justin Lin wants to bring a character back, he just does it. Who cares if their return makes no sense within the context of the film. You get the vibe that most of the cast are friends with each other and hanging out for 3 months on set is just as important as doing another film. Think Ocean’s Eleven.

Fast & Furious 6 is to Hollywood what drifting is to motor sports. They’re both about showing off and doing so in the loudest, flashiest way possible. Once we understand what the films are trying to achieve, we accept them for what they are. Once that happens it all begins to make much more sense. A decent plot is just icing on the cake.

There will be plenty of naysayers and I’m sure many of you reading this completely disagree with my argument. The thing us though, you’re all going to see it, regardless of how much you hate the franchise. There are plenty of bad films out there. Many of us choose to avoid them, but the Fast & Furious franchise is unique in the fact that we still pay our hard earned dollars to see the films, even if they look awful. We get nostalgic about them and yearn to journey back to that alternate reality, were everyone is good looking, drives a fast car and doesn’t have to pass a smog test. As an audience, we know beforehand we’re not about to whiteness cinematic excellence, but we see them nonetheless because we know we’ll be entertained. See the funny thing about entertainment is that it can be good, even great, but it’s never bad. That’s what these films are all about.


Formula 1 fans will be well aware of Ron Howard’s upcoming film Rush. It chronicles the 1976 Formula 1 season, one of the most tumultuous ever, with a focus on the drivers James Hunt and Niki Lauda.

It’s not often that Hollywood ventures into racing territory and when they have, it’s not usually gone well (think Driven).

Rush on the other hand, looks fantastic. Ron Howard is taking it seriously and Formula 1 fans are the ones he’s looking to please. Ron has been spotted at a number of races over the last year, including yesterday’s Monaco Grand Prix. I’m a big fan of the Hunt-Lauda rivalry and I think it’ll provide the perfect storyline for American audiences, to become more interested in the sport.

With Rush coming out in 2013 and the potential for 2 US Grand Prix, things are looking good for Formula 1 in the states.

Mondo X Drive

I used to be obsessed with movie posters. My bedroom walls were a shrine to one of my favorite artists, Drew Struzan. I even e-mailed him once to discuss composition and his personal style. He actually e-mailed me back, which was a real treat and something I’ll always remember.

When I was in high school I used to imagine my own movies, so I could design their posters for art projects. It was a literal obsession and has really influenced the graphic design and creative work I do professionally today.

Mondo have been putting out their own poster interpretations of some of our favorite movies, new and old. Their recent Planet of the Apes series is pretty spectacular and this week they just debuted their latest, an ode to last year’s Drive.

Despite being a mock advertisement, it’s a an excellent piece of art in it’s own right.

A lot of people added Drive to their 2011 top 10 lists and I’d have to agree. There’s 2 things I should probably mention first though: I hate American Muscle (with a passion) and I don’t much care for Ryan Gosling. Naturally I would hate this movie? Wrong. Drive is a fantastic car film and something every automotive enthusiast should see. Director Nicolas Winding Refn does a brilliant job of showcasing the car in its most raw form. The driving sequences are stripped down and real, the complete opposite of the music and CGI-laden faff of a certain other franchise.

Drive isn’t a happy film, it’s disturbed. Some might even call it eerie. I found a lot of parts to be tense and uncomfortable. Not so much because of the story itself, but because of the interactions between the characters. Gosling has the “aloofness” down precisely and really makes a case for himself as a decent actor. Drive is dripping with style and in many ways reminds me of Tarantino’s earlier work, where his stories and characters were at least relevant, to something you might see in real life.

Drive is definitely worth a watch and can certainly hold it’s own amongst the automotive cinematic greats.

Photo courtesy of Mondo.


I Need This

I don’t own a Blu-ray player, but I think that’s about to change.

I’ve been a James Bond fanatic since I was a little kid. I own every movie on DVD, some of which I have two copies of. I’m an old school Connery fan (sans Diamonds Are Forever), but Daniel Craig has certainly earned his seat on the throne. Casino Royale could easily be in my top five.

It’s great to see his movies added to the complete collection and I’m really looking forward to Skyfall, later this year.

Video courtesy of tcfoxconnect.

So Ready

July 20, 2012, a little over a year from now, The Dark Knight Rises will be in theaters.

With the exception of Peter Jackson’s, The Hobbit and possibly Bond 23, there’s no film that I’m looking forward to more than The Dark Knight Rises. If you ask me, Christopher Nolan is right at the top of the list, of Hollywood geniuses and I have faith that he won’t let us down with this third and (his) final entry, in the Batman trilogy.

The rumors are that the teaser trailer will be in front of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows this weekend. I can’t wait!

Paul Walker Knows His Roots

I just got back from watching Fast Five and after going in expecting nothing, I came out thinking it’s one of the best in the series. Like a lot of people have been saying, this one doesn’t have such an emphasis on cars, especially imports. I didn’t really see that as a bad thing. I think the tuning trends have moved well away from what we saw (and liked) in the first film and seeing that reproduced 10 years later wouldn’t have the same effect. I thought the cars in Tokyo Drift were over top and that was 5 years ago. This movie is a reunion of sorts and they’ve managed to cast nearly every major character from the series. It’s what makes Fast Five so entertaining. No matter which entry was your favorite, they’ve got you covered.

This is brainless action in it’s finest form. It’s the movie I look forward to seeing every summer.  Don’t expect it to win any awards or your girlfriend to like it, but it’s certainly worth a look. Make sure you stay until the end of the credits. Not sure how I feel about what you’ll end up seeing.

Zero Expectations

I’m a little behind the rest of pack. I’m going to see Fast Five tonight. Everyone I know who has seen it, has good things to say. The reviews haven’t been half bad either. I’m going in with no expectations. I find it’s the best way watch any movie (especially a sequel).

I’m going to drive the WRX tonight because I’m a ricer and I think I’m still in high school. I’ll have the review later tonight.

The Town

Last night I had a chance to watch Ben Affleck’s new film, The Town. It’s not so much another movie, as it is an homage to the heist film genre and the city of Boston. It’s apparent Affleck, The Town’s director, star and native Bostonian put his heart and soul into this one. His passion for the story and the city is very apparent throughout and as a result everything is brilliantly executed. The Town is easily one of the best films of it’s genre I’ve seen. It’s very well cast; Jeremy Renner (The Hurt Locker), in particular gives an excellent performance as Affleck’s best friend and accomplice. Veteran actors Chris Cooper and Pete Postlethwaite are also welcome additions to the supporting cast of the film. With a recent history of terrible roles, people seem to have forgotten about just how talented Ben Affleck can be. I was pleasantly surprised by his confidence as director. The whole film is very tight and uses minimal cuts to get it’s story across. The car chases and shootouts in particular were very well orchestrated and hauntingly realistic. As a tribute to Boston, all the elements are here including a finale at Fenway Park. The Town represents a culture that is unique to the city with which it is based and natives of Massachusetts, myself one of them, will be pleased with the film’s authenticity. With rave reviews flooding in, I have no doubts that The Town will join the ranks of films like The Departed and Heat as one of the best ever.

The Gift That Keeps On Giving

Well it just wouldn’t be Christmas with out one of Clarkson’s annual DVD’s.

Clarkson’s latest solo act, affectionately titled The Italian Job, is set to go on sale November 15. I look forward to his DVD’s every year. Although they’re basically a rehashing of the same reviews we’ve already seen on Top Gear, it’s always entertaining to get Jezza’s take on some of the cars he wasn’t able to review on the BBC. Also with Top Gear not scheduled to return until early 2011, The Italian Job will be a welcome end-of-year supplement. As the title eludes, the feature will showcase a host of Italian cars including Clarkson’s first drive in the Pagani Zonda R!

You can preorder it now from Amazon.