- Warning: This article includes minor spoilers.
There comes a time in every series of a certain longevity when you have to travel into space. It is a bit the equivalent of “jumping the shark” in television series (a term that refers to the moment in which the series arguably makes an eccentric or crazy decision that ends with it or catapults it to glory). It has been seen in horror movies (the fantastic ‘Jason X’ from ‘Friday the 13th’, the hilarious fourth installments of ‘Leprechaun’, ‘Hellraiser’ and ‘Critters’), but even the erotic myth ‘Emmanuelle’ did it in the series ‘Emmanuelle in Space’.
Although perhaps with whom it is easier to identify this plot pun of the saga, this trip to the cosmos (which is not a spoiler: Michelle Rodríguez confirmed it in september of last year) is with a film from the James Bond saga, an obvious initial mirror for the ‘Mission: Impossible’ series, in turn a pop icon that ‘F&F’ has been imitating since its fifth installment. Is about ‘Moonraker’, 1979, the fourth film in which Roger Moore played 007, and which tried to imitate the bombing of ‘Star Wars’, with debatable results.
‘Fast & Furious’ has nothing to do with ‘Star Wars’ beyond its notorious longevity, its phenomenal locker (It has surpassed the record in pandemic, exceeding 70 million dollars in its first weekend in the United States, becoming the best premiere in its country since, significantly, ‘Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker ‘). But It is through the Disney saga that we can find the connection of the Toretto family series with science fiction: if ‘Moonraker’ wanted to turn 007 into a ‘Star Wars’ character, ‘Fast & Furious’ is also increasingly James Bond, although in this case through the use of the cifi as a plot hinge to justify villains eccentrics and holocaust schemes. Although that would take time to come.
Fast and furious: the tuning pre-reggaeton
Looking back, until 2001, the year of the premiere of the first ‘Fast & Furious’ (briefly known in Spain as ‘A todo gas’), It not only sends us to a very different franchise, but to a very different moment in the history of cinema.. Sequels to ‘Rush Hour’, ‘The mummy’ or ‘Jurassic Park’ were released. The first parts of ‘Shrek’, ‘The Lord of the Rings’, ‘Harry Potter’ and ‘Planet of the Apes’ … by Tim Burton landed. Limp Bizkit was the best, and he proved it by appearing on the soundtrack of ‘F&F’. Other times.
Action cinema was also very different from the current one, not yet transformed by Marvel, ‘Mission: Impossible’ (which had only two installments) and ‘John Wick’, to say three franchises that have deeply penetrated the genre today. As proof, the clear reference of the first ‘F&F’ was ‘They call him Bodhi’, a classic action film from the nineties, brimming with extreme sports and relatively realistic action, in which a cop (Keanu Reeves) infiltrated a gang of bank robbers led by Patrick Swayze.
Something like this happens here, with Paul Walker as a police officer infiltrated in the world of illegal racing in search of a gang of car thieves, where Vin Diesel may or may not be involved. Nothing weird around here: action with races and chases, partially inspired by the success of the video games ‘Need for Speed’ and the tuning, among other fevers of the time. The success was such (38 million dollars of budget, more than 200 of collection) that immediately generated the corresponding sequels.
Interestingly, the first two sequels did not feature Vin Diesel, although they did follow the relatively realistic and police codes of the first part. The third installment, ‘Tokyo Drift’, was a relatively common experiment in long franchises, which consists of launching spin-off films, with different protagonists and settings, to maintain an annual cadence that the main series sometimes cannot bear. The result here was very remarkable (as was another famous case of the eighties: ‘Halloweeen III’), a kind of ‘Street Fighter’ with cars, but the experiment was not repeated.
Back to the starting line
The fourth installment, confusingly titled in its original version ‘Fast & Furious’ (here we add the subtitle ‘Even faster’) is the reunion of the protagonists of the original film. Justin Lin, director of deliveries 3, 4, 5, 6 and 9, that is, responsible for what we understand today by “The Fast & Furious Concept” it still remains faithful in the plot to the illegal races and the undercover cops, but it expands the scale: drug trafficking, crowded races and dozens of cars spinning in the air.
It is here, in 2011, when the saga understands that the urban police codes are too small for them, and turned into a millionaire franchise, with the return of the initial protagonists as a clear proven key to success, there is an unapologetic turn towards crazy overproduction, closely following in the footsteps of ‘Mission Impossible’, which this same year would premiere its fourth installment, ‘Ghost Protocol’. In the fifth part, for many the best of all, we enter the field of action larger than life, almost superheroic, with The Rock entering momentarily in the cast of the saga as a clear symbol of this turn.
Thematically we are not yet in terms of science fiction: ‘Fast & Furious 5’ shows the protagonists (who begin to return to the saga in handfuls from all previous installments) fondling another classic thriller code, the false culprits in eternal flight . But the way Justin Lin, who began to rehearse modestly in the third installment, begins to acquire science fiction overtones, and is detected in the first great set piece from the movie, which involves a train rescue and a few challenges to the laws of physics.
In it, cars are no longer mere vehicles to get from one place to another. Cars have become projectiles, missiles. In ships that can be redirected in the air. The laws of physics are transformed in favor of pure emotion, and machines are at the service of heroes. Although ‘Fast & Furious’ is not about alien invasions or the conquest of deep space, there is a genre spirit there: the mastery of technology to turn it into an extension of the human being and his feats.
From here, the cars lose all kinds of physical weight, which ends up coming together in one of the most deservedly famous images of the series: the car jumping between two skyscrapers in Dubai en ‘Fast & Furious 7’. At the beginning of that same film, Paul Walker’s son has told him, playing, that “cars don’t fly.” Flying cars, an iconic classic of science fiction imagery with which the franchise fools around without having to fully immerse itself in its arguments (because we keep talking about heist movies, phony culprits, and spy movie dynamics).
From the fifth installment, in addition, after a brutal chase in Rio, the cars add another extra feature: they become uncontrolled demolition machines. A note that culminates in the sixth installment, when a handful of cars literally bring down a plane so that the vehicle it was holding flies out of the fiery skeleton of the exploding aircraft. More beautiful than the Victory of Samothrace.
Watch out, the jaquers
The only thing missing was an extra incentive: the cutting-edge / absurd technology, with which they had already been fooling around since the moment in which the films wear costumes of caper movies hi-tech, like ‘Mission: Impossible’. In the eighth installment, the villain is a hacker (what It is also called Cifra: Charlize Theron, which is said to be “technological terrorism in person”). The threat is that of the nuclear holocaust, another science fiction code that we lacked (the post-apocalypse, which connects the F&F supercars with Mad Max, to round it all up). And nonsense is carried out like making cars rain from a building by controlling their on-board computers, or moving them around the city like a metal crowd that looks like a nightmare out of ‘Trackmania’.
Again, We are not strictly facing science fiction films, but the technological excuse is being used to show the impossible. Of course, the weapons used by the protagonists (multidirectional bombs, for example) belong to an indeterminate near future, and another day we talked about the incredibly mind-boggling timeline that the film follows, all to justify the plot earthquake that ‘Tokyo Drift’ generated. . And of course there is gadgets as free flight suits with wings and jet propulsion that allow boarding of airplanes.
In addition, the saga was allowed a new spin-off, ‘Fast & Furious: Hobbs & Shaw’, playing with the rivalry / camaraderie dynamic of two highly charismatic supporting characters from the main saga on both sides of the law, played by Dwayne. Johnson and Jason Statham. This time around, the villain would be Idris Elba, nothing less than a cyber-genetically enhanced terrorist.. Here we enter a more or less bastardized field of science fiction (although with a curious flirtation in its final section with a return to nature and the essences of tradition) and the more rational superhero cinema.
Here Elba’s own presence is pure science fiction, someone with superhuman abilities thanks to technology, but also a biological weapon that, again, can unleash the apocalypse, and after which heroes and villains will go. Although the tone is, say, less techie than ‘Fast & Furious 7’, the argument embraces the irrational without problems by way of logical explanation (which is not necessarily plausible).
Finally, we come to the ninth installment, which takes a step back in terms of a more pure science fiction plot, since we return to the soap operas of betrayals between former relatives and Cypher remains in the background, but we have the launch of another visual icon of science fiction: the trip to outer space. However, ‘Fast & Furious’ at this point has very well caught the tone to its nonsense, and opts for the only way to fit with the logic of a saga that, otherwise, remains grounded: he makes swallowing with absolute nonsense (two unprepared people travel into space in a modified car) by way of humor.
The result, as incredible and arbitrary as it may seem, works, and if by now there is someone who decides that we have come this far and who disconnects at this point, well … they have been in the wrong franchise for twenty years. Science fiction has been for ‘Fast & Furious’ plus a tool, a huge wrench with which to justify the torrents of pure and irrational action that rains down on the spectators. An intelligent and unique use of the genre for a series with an overwhelming personality.