Notes on the Fast/Furious Series

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by Jaime Grijalba.

Well, here we are. It’s a series of films that is 14 years old around these days, and as the seventh entry in the series is approaching (as we speak, maybe it’s already out whenever I decide to publish this) I decided to finally give in and watch the whole series in succession. It’s going to be a hard project, specially since I have no interest at all in cars or racing or whatever kind of attitude that this film condones, this is the movie that has created a circuit of illegal races in my country (and I’m sure in countless others) that has resulted in more deaths than in any good. So, deciding to throw that element out of my mind, I decide to start watching from the beginning and continuing forward until the last movie, directed by James Wan, which was actually the reason for me to start watching these films. If it wasn’t for Wan’s involvement, I would have absolutely zero interest in doing this, but I’m a fan, and fans sometimes do stupid stuff like this.

I present this series of notes in the following manner: I write whatever comes to my mind as I watch the films and I end it with a rating for the film itself. If I see the seventh entry in a timely fashion, I will add the seventh film and finally do a list ranking them all. If I don’t, the list will only contain the other films and there will be a separate entry. I know I shouldn’t write this in such a forward manner, specially when there’s really no harm in terms of what could or couldn’t happen, but I want to reveal my process as much as I can, I love that myself so I do it. So, without much further ado, let’s begin with going back to 2001…

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The Fast and the Furious (2001, Rob Cohen)

· “Ok, wouldn’t it be funny if there was a callback to this particular scene in the seventh film?” – my mind whenever something not really important or obscure or anything at all happens in the screen.

· Talking about callbacks, I love them. I really hope that this mysterious heist with helmeted people is referenced in some way, or the tuna place that sucks, or anything, truly anything, just to feel smarter than everyone else when this movie comes out, since they’ll be fresh in my mind.

· This movie has dated itself pretty heavily by using the infamous song ‘Rollin’ by Limpbizkit. I liked this song when I didn’t know any better, and it was the opening song of the Undertaker when I watched wrestling.

· The crowds around the cars look fake, as if there’s really not that many people and they were consciously put together as if to give the illusion that there’s more people admiring cars and talking about them and worshiping them. But it doesn’t work. Maybe the framing was too wide and expansive, a tighter shot would’ve given this less air up and thus would’ve worked as a bigger crowd.

· There’s a Japanese schoolgirl. I though I’d only see them in part three.

· “Goddamn Street Racers!”

· THREESOME.

· I want to think that all the things that were shown to make the NOS work are fake and that no one actually uses this and that NOS is really a myth of some kind, so I can catalog this as science fiction.

· The special effects/composite/360 shots look awful, there was really not that kind of technology yet to make it smooth or even realistic, yet.

· I do like the aerial shots with the cars dispersing through multitude of streets while being chased by the police, there’s an abstract nature in the shapes, the colors and the movement. Could be prettier, but it’s ok so far. The cinematography in this film it’s really not bad, except in the race moments when you can really feel the fake nature of the whole endeavor, but the scenes at the start and this demonstrates that there’s talent behind the lens. Ericson Core… and I see that really this is his only “bright” spot in his filmography.

· The editing is not good though. Peter Honess, who has a bigger career, but… not that stellar. He did edit the second Harry Potter film though, when it was still worth seeing.

· The chases do look better than the races, at least so far. They don’t have the need to be epic or interesting in any way. Since we don’t know the characters, the races do have to be flashier and have a lot more of intense effects, so we understand and enter the conflict even between two characters that we’ve just met, all with the filler characters in the middle. But it fails because the flashy effects that uses aren’t well developed, it looks fake and the distorted vision due to velocity looks phony and funny without it needing to be funny. The chase, on the other hand, is a more understandable conflict in terms of how it’s filmed: one chases the other, we either root for one or the other, and thus we don’t need the effects to make it exciting, to bring us towards the screen and feel the tension between the two forces at large, thus it has certainly more liberty and it does bring forward the opportunity to have more showiness in the skills of the physical cars themselves and the strength and force in the face of the characters that are in the cars.

· The videogame that Michelle Rodriguez was playing was a race game (ha ha), but it said “WRONG WAY”. So, she was driving backwards. Um.

· There seems to be a tradition in the Toretto family of going upstairs to fuck in front of a whole crowd of people that don’t seem to mind that the host has gone somewhere else.

· Hey, they were watching that crappy Bruce Lee movie! Oh, it was also directed by Rob Cohen. Huh.

· The latino gang in this movie is kinda offensive, but not really. I love that they used a song from Molotov, it’s maybe one of the greatest Mexican music bands that also can make fun of itself and the impact that they have on their listeners. Maybe a good choice for this film.

· Maybe I regret what I said about the cinematography being good after that scene in the garage, the flashlight was used to no purpose, we could see what was being illuminated before the light was shun on the objects.

· I really hope this moves beyond ‘race wars’. It’s really not entertaining.

· It’s really a basic screenwriting approach, but I like how we’re given a symbol that is later explained by those who use it. The Paul Walker is mostly an outsider that learns from the inside due to his affiliation with the police, but at the same time he feels affected by those symbols, since he has grown attached to them. Like the man hit with a pipe by Toretto is used both as a way of shaping up the character and his issues, but at the same time is given a context and reason by Toretto himself, framing him as an emotional character, worried about his family and those around him.

· For some reason I thought “race wars” was about race, and not racing. Fuck.

· This movie isn’t THAT sexist, the guy starting the races is… a guy!

· Sweet rave party.

· I now understand it all. I love how DVD Players were apparently a big commodity in 2001. It’s funny.

· I don’t understand why the first race couldn’t be like this. It’s not perfect, but this truck raid is easily the best thing because it feels real, it’s people there hurting themselves in a road and doing stunts. Maybe the actors don’t do them, but there are people there that are doing real things.

· How much are they paying this truck driver? He shouldn’t be doing that unless they’re paying him a shitload of money.

· The reveal of the real nature of Paul Walker could’ve been a little bit better, right now I like how Vin Diesel reacted, but besides that, it’s a weak scene that could’ve had more power.

· The victim that brings them together. This whole thing after Toretto knows that Walker is a cop, is kinda unrealistic, I really don’t know what to think about this.

· Man, this movie has been ‘Paul Walker saves Vin Diesel’s ass… again’ a few times already. I can imagine the slash fan fiction that happens in the internet. I can imagine I said, I actually don’t want to read any of it.

· Wait… that’s it? That’s kind of a bummer. I didn’t get what happened, I don’t know how the stakes ended, this was truly an underwhelming film. How does a series start off of this? I guess due to the ‘sick cars’ that are featured here, but even those don’t have as much preponderance in most of the movie. And the whole undercover cop is really tired as a plot device, and by 2001 I guess that it was already tired as well (hell, ‘The Departed’ (2006) is based around that concept and I think it’s tired, I hate that movie). So, what do we have here. A rare animal, maybe it was box office that made it spawn sequels, let’s see what the future awaits.

6/10

Hey, I pop in the DVD of the second film and there’s an option to watch it with a ‘turbo charged’ prelude, and looking up, yes, it is part of the chronology, so I think it counts. Whaddayaknow.

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Turbo Charged Prelude to 2 Fast 2 Furious (2003, Philip G. Atwell)

· This looks made with 10 bucks.

· The video quality is awful.

· There seems to be some sort of penance from the Paul Walker character in terms of how he’s trying to be ‘badass’ so he can be reunited with Toretto once again, and in some ways this is highly homoerotic for some reason.

· I like that this has been without too much actual dialogue, as if this was some kind of music video that managed to lose the song that was with it, and it works in that sense, due to the constant references to maps, the travel of Walker, the cars, the races, the video quality, the plain cinematography, everything.

· I hope that woman that helps him and finds him in every corner has some role in the second movie.

· Jesus, that transition was cheesy as fuck. Well, the whole thing is really really cheesy. I mean, he’s not even going fast. And the editing is awful, like some vignettes here and there, and no intention from the filmmaker, the editor or anyone to have the illusion of speed, not even in the few 20-second race sequences.

· And of course he gets to Miami and the latino music starts. And it’s over. What the fuck. That was awful. I learned nothing about why Paul Walker had the need to escape the police to try and find Toretto, he has absolutely no reason or connection, and I hope that the movie will explain something. And I don’t even know if Vin Diesel is in this… I’m just guessing. Was the thrill of racing cars that much that he has the need to abandon that life and go ahead and try to make a living out of it? It’s ridiculous, the only semi-explanation that we are given is that he owes him a second car, it doesn’t make sense unless there’s a sentimentality attached to it, and we’ve not yet grown that much into the characters to think that. This is a useless short.

· Oh, look at that. Directed by the same director of one of the worst movies that I’ve ever seen: ‘War’ (2007). No wonder it looks so cheap and awful.

4/10

Well, that was a bad choice, onto the real thing. I guess?

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2 Fast 2 Furious (2003, John Singleton)

· I think I saw some of this movie, at least the start. I remember that sick afro and the people trying to block the roads, like a communal experience of sorts, everybody helps to have fun doing this highly dangerous and deadly illegal sport.

· The amount of women racers has increased, but most of them seem to be just meat on a hook for the viewers of the films. A lot of ass shots and all. The first one didn’t have these many asses, nor tits, it had a thing for legs more than anything, if I’m correct, and faces. It was worried about the faces of women, that those were attractive, not about the bumpy bulgy asses that the women that have appeared so far have. So, so far, this seems exploitative bullcrap.

· They are speaking horrible spanish. He’s not even latino, I’m sure of it.

· So Paul Walker isn’t really obsessed with racing so that he goes out every night to see his luck, but he is eager to go at the first opportunity that he has to push gas and go to the place that he is needed to be at.

· This is like a collection of exploitative elements of the tuning/racing culture: the outrageous sound systems, huge crowds (they seem more natural this time), short skirts, huge asses, bright colorful cars, hugely racial stereotypes being exploited. The more I see this the more I notice that I’ve seen this before, at least until this part. Why does this have to have one of each race? Why? It’s even more racist that way, I think. And everyone is so obnoxious towards the Asian lady, making jokes and quibs, and everything, it’s not good.

· Why is Paul Walker driving a backwards car? I mean, I saw it in the awful short that preceded this, but, why?

· Why does the Asian girl has to have a video game of sorts when it comes to her car and how it works? Yes, she’s Japanese I guess? But, why?

· Paul Walker does seem more excited about racing, and I mean having more fun with it. And that latino guy is really obnoxious and says the darnest things in Spanish about the Asian lady.

· In comparison to the first one, I must say that the effects are better. Still not perfect or even beautiful to look at, the NOS is used better and the blur is less present and more realistic. The composite shots look more fluid and less fake, specially when it comes to the “let’s show every face of the racers as they go at infinite miles per hour, they turn and we see the next one and so on”. This time it feels like at least it was somewhat done in a road and not in a green screen, I doubt that it was done while racing, but still is commendable. The back of the cars do look kinda CGI, so that’s a shame, let’s see if by number 3 there’s an improvement in these kind of composite shots.

· That cop had some kind of science fiction alien weapon of sorts, that thing either exists or doesn’t, and that gives me more argument to think that this series has been taking place in some kind of parallel semi-futuristic world. It was never our world! Fuck the rules!

· Dunn looks like a jackass. Oh well, he’s gone. No one will ever know who I’m talking about.

· Hey, yeah! I like to destroy cars, I like that this culture has been mentioned, I love this. And the announcer is as crazy as I know they are.

· I like the small hint of Mexican music while they fight in the worse manner possible. They are even saying that they fight like shit. I don’t like the dynamic between the two supposed ex-friends, they bicker and fight and moan and bitch way too much for it to be entertaining.

· Is it weird that the parts that bother me less aren’t really that much entertaining either? Besides, I think that it’s weird that the drivers that participate in this sort of “audition race” don’t have their driver’s license? Why?

· The interior of the car CGI looks really fake.

· OK, the whole “two trucks sequeeze the other car and then one runs over it” stunt was really well done, at least for me.

· I thought Rome and O’Connor were working together, but they are fighting always like kids, showing off and doing stupid stunts just to up the stakes between them, are they stupid? If they do what they should instead of doing weird stuff, surely, the film would be less entertaining, but it wouldn’t be so infuriating, eh.

· “Put your blouse back on”. “Hater”. Dialogue, gentlemen.

· “He’s clean, dirty, but clean”. FUCK.

· “Shut up”. “You shut up”. “You should both shut up”. JEEEEEESUS.

· Why would Rome steal from the guy who is trying to bring down, to work for or whatever? They just gained his trust and Rome instantly tries to destroy everything that has come from it and puts everything on risk. I mean, if I was Verone, I would instantly fire them or kill them or something if they stole from me in the moment that they gained trust.

· More asses. “Look at the bubble in that–“.

· Suki is back, she might be the most endearing character in the series so far, and she’s also the most “hey, females” and “hey, Asians” character of a very varied palette. I mean, Rome and other characters counted with one hand don’t feel like walking stereotypes.

· Rome is a really stupid character.

· They used Suki as race starter. No woman started a race in the first movie. This really really feels like an exploitative film at all times, like it doesn’t really care about what it does to achieve the titillation that it wants from its viewers.

· Also, this race is pointless, they just want new cars because theirs are being monitored by the police, those that are working for them. This is, again, another fan service of sorts, a race to make peace with the fans after all those dull dull moments without any speed (which amounted to less than ten minutes if I’m correct, Christ).

· So, Paul Walker has balls because he can say a woman is beautiful. Gee, I wonder who is empowered in this situation, and who’s who and what’s being undermined. Also, this film has a lot of awkward silences whenever people are talking, and also: people can’t stay in a place too long, whenever they stay somewhere for a couple of minutes, they must move, they can’t have a calm conversation. This movie has ADD.

· I hope nothing happens to the rat. Hey! I thought this movie was about cars! What is this mid-90s mafia style punishment thing? This dangerous mafia man is like the worst stereotype and the baddest bad guy of all time, but it only says a lot about the screenwriter and its lack of imagination.

· “That was a damn rat, man”. No, shit!

· I still don’t understand the relation between Verone and the undercover cop girl, it’s strange and no explanation later will really make it worth anything that has happened with her and what she has done.

· There are a lot, a lot of pointless scenes in this movie. Like the whole yacht thing, the information given by the female cop undercover was important, but the rest didn’t have any stakes nor any consequence. There’s a constant drop in the confidence of Verone on the two guys that he has chosen to carry out the job, but they are still going to do it… they’re going to be killed, but they’re going to do it anyway. What’s the difference? I don’t get it.

· “That dude in L.A.”. Hey, that’s Vin Diesel!

· My god, will the corrupt cop do what he promised or will he do something else? So much tension. Not.

· HAHAHAHA, ok, that was funny. One of the crooked agents of Verone removes a painting from a wall before they smash it. Unnecessary, but at the same time it tells a little bit about this character that we really know nothing about. A small touch of niceness.

· The chases in this movie are more conventionally shot, they use the classic wide angles and elevated shots that really don’t give any special view or angle to the whole confrontation of the forces at play, in this case police and our protagonists. The races were shot a little bit better, but not much much better either. I really hate how conventional this looks so far.

· “You’re a good driver man”. “Thanks bro”. Jesus.

· Why don’t the cops just shoot the drivers of the cars. Maybe a bomb would’ve solved the problem. End illegal races forever: bomb the cars.

· Of course, they’ve changed cars, what else can you expect?

· Seat ejector? Really? Ok, I’ll buy it. What I don’t buy is this whole plot. Ludicrous, and I guess these are the ones that are actually being more grounded in reality compared to later sequels. Gee.

· This movie series has already jumped the yacht. Haha.

· Oh, I hope that Verone returns in a future installment of this series. Not.

· “So you trust me now?” That’s no way of truly addressing any of the things that happened in this movie, not one thing.

· Racial bonding at its best. I think that’s the best thing I can say about this movie. It feels real in the relationship between Paul Walker and Rome, they are just two friends, without any difference or anything that would lead them apart. I think that this movie is really bad, but at the same time it’s weird enough that it has the necessity to be connected to the series in some way as the ‘badassification’ of Paul Walker, and how this plot could’ve been of any 90s movie directed by a Chinese director that came to the United States to do some work for hire. It feels cheap in its screenwriting, and the rest of the characters are just too stereotypical to be real, the central protagonist couple is the only real thing that happens, it feels organic. At least it has that going for it.

5/10

This really isn’t going well, is it.

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The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift (2006, Justin Lin)

· I clearly remember watching about half an hour of this movie before turning it off, as I was worried with something else, it was on TV and I was just thinking about how I would never sit down and watch any of those films. And take a look at me now.

· I like this opening credit sequence, it’s maybe a bit too obvious in terms of how it plays, with the words disappearing with the motion of the actions on screen, but it’s at least more creative than anything done so far in this series.

· Is this guy stupid? I mean, I know that this movie isn’t about high school hijinx, but it has a very preppy tone so far, the blonde girl, the bulky guy, the nerdy (I’m gonna use that word, yes) who pimps his car to beat those who think are superior… it’s very classic and stupid at the same time as we know the events that will unfold now.

· “The winner gets me”. You just regressed women and human rights like a couple hundred of years at least there, just you, on your own, you should be proud! Hey, and that girl who throws the bra, she too!

· The shooting of this race is serviceable, almost maybe too much. But it’s clear, we have, overall, a good sense of where and who and what is doing. It has more a feel of a chase than a race on itself and it knows how to present obstacles in an environment, plot-wise, that doesn’t need them: we are just starting the movie, we have a new protagonist, we need to know him, we need to know he’s good but maybe a bit too cocky, and that the other guy is a jackass. Hence, the race could’ve been a straightforward race, just like in the first movie, to ease you into the concept of illegal street racing, but here we have a different animal, this is not an education, this is a character introduction: we need the obstacles, the house, the jumps, the truck that butts in and out of the road trying to derail our protagonist, all complexities that weren’t needed, and are almost a distraction of sorts. If you’re in number 3, you might as well know how races work, even if the context is completely different for this film. Here we have a fresh look at the way to shoot and plan a race/chase. This will be something interesting.

· Except for that girl. God.

· Why did that happen? Did he lose control? I think that it could’ve been clearer for the viewer that this was a mistake because he doesn’t know much, because he is good, but he is not Toretto or Paul Walker good. Could’ve been presented better. He needs a sensei.

· He got fucked up. And there’s no way he’s not 18 yet.

· I liked that white wall/pillow transition, it’s cheesy, but it works.

· Hey, did Justin Lin tweet pictures of Japanese movies that inspired him for this? No? Well, I don’t know where I can find my Seven Samurai reference, how will I find it? I mean, if you film a movie in Japan you must reference Japanese cinema, right? Right? Am I being too hard on a director that I usually like and that did some dumb things on Twitter? Maybe.

· Tokyo is really pretty and bright. But whenever we get in a house, I’m pretty sure it’s not Tokyo.

· DUDEBRO, YOUR DAD WAS FUCKING A JAP YO.

· An old Japanese lady wouldn’t wave at you if you see her in the window, she would probably go away and try to block your view with some big object.

· Sean’s pulling a Harry Potter, he’s living in the cupboard under the stairs!

· This is really dumb. First, the first thing he notices in the room once he enters is the non-Japanese girl, second, he is in a full-blown actual Japanese high school, so that means that every class is taught in Japanese, as we see in the first scene, when the teacher asks her to go out, take out his shoes and wear the uwabaki. Who on his right mind would enroll an ignorant American that doesn’t know a word of Japanese to a Japanese school. I mean, really, this is the least thought out thing in the entire film, he’s actually in the need of graduating and he won’t get it because he doesn’t understand shit. I know I maybe worry too much about things that actually no one cares about, but hey, that’s me.

· This confirms that these movies were always science fiction. Does that really exist in Japan? The turning elevator/parking lot thingie? HOW! Oh, and that green car is fucking ugly. Oh, it’s The Hulk. I get it. Still, ugly.

· SWEET JAPANESE CAR RAVE PARTY.

· Not even in a porno I’ve seen a Japanese girl slapped in the butt as hard as in this movie, dang. Here’s an Asian taste exploitation, and I wouldn’t mind, but I complained elsewhere so I’m going to say that I’m complaining here. This is exploitative!

· “Does it really matter where I’m from?” YES, YES, YES. This is maybe the first transgressive racial thing in this entire film.

· BAKA GAIJIN

· “You’re the one who is rucky” Thick Japanese accents, I likey.

· I know what drift is and I’ve never touched a car wheel in my entire life. I know what the term drift stands for, and this guy, who apparently wants to race the Yakuza champion, the Drift King, doesn’t know what drifting is? I mean, I know the movie is called Tokyo Drift and it’s supposedly about a guy learning how to drift (or at least, that’s what I get from what I’ve seen so far), but man, not knowing what drift is… that’s lame.

· The guy who just handed out the car doesn’t care that the American kid doesn’t know how to drift, he is infinitely amused. Why?

· I love the crappy cellphone video cameras, and I think back in 2003 I didn’t even think that cellphones could even take a picture, so that was something that was deemed, maybe, Japanese by the viewers, since they are so racially obsessed with taking pictures. Or maybe I’m wrong. But this doesn’t look weird in today’s world, this is what would happen, everyone would be recording with their phones.

· HE WINKED AT THE CAMERA. NO. NO.

· I like the drifting and the failure of it, they are both well explained, and while the slow motion and the fake zoom kinda defeat a visual style that was being used, at the same time it makes clearer how drifting works and how useful it would be if our protagonist knew how to use it.

· “Don’t leave town.” I love that passive-agressive tone of voice. Perfect for this movie. It doesn’t need over-reaching bad guys like the one in part 2, we need humans in these movies, humans doing things that would never ever happen in the real life, but it is with the emotions that you make a great movie.

· “Have you been racing Shawn?” Now, that is funny, he just had to put a little smell around the clothes of his son and it would’ve been hysterical.

· The sumo sequence gives this movie a chance to be culturally respectful to Japan, and it doesn’t really fail. The characters are stupid, but Japan is well used overall, even if it uses the clichés, it uses them in a respectful manner.

· I love Pachinko.

· “Why don’t you find a nice Japanese girl like every other white guy around here?” Perfect. This might be my new favorite character. Or my first favorite character. Can’t really say if Rome ever was a favorite.

· There’s been a change of song like four times in the past three minutes.

· They just showed a motorcycle with NOS. Now they must use it somehow in the film, they must!

· Someone says Ohayo to you, you say Ohayo back you disrespectful little bastard.

· “Not easy being the nice guy”. Corny, but works.

· Ah, classic training montage, and there’s even a Mr. Miyagi reference. Han is really like the best character to ever grace the screen of the F/F films so far: he has an understandable philosophy, he’s not good nor bad entirely, he is defined by his actions, and the story that we know from his past, he is vivacious and trustful, but at the same time he knows how to control people and have them under his sight.

· He isn’t there to appropriate someone else’s culture, he is there to have a face in the medium, to be what he is and what his own culture has learned. Drifting is not Japanese, drifting is something that anyone can do and he is using his knowledge to get a sure grounding on his own culture (he yells Yeehaw as he finally gets the ability to do it by himself).

· I need to say that the stunts of the cars drifting side by side are beautiful, are almost as beautiful as seeing synchronized dancing, it’s a spectacle of light, colors and precise movement that feels at both times natural and extremely difficult to pull off (and that’s a good doing from the film, that has managed to maintain and enforce the idea that drifting is some sort of language for a certain amount of people that want to “fit in”, it is something that you deserve to do, not something you learn to say how cool you are). Just like Han said, they don’t drift to demonstrate who is faster than the other, but for other reasons.

· The music in the night drift thing is awful though. And the composite of who’s actually inside the car. Wasn’t that great either.

· Sorry, I forgot I was taking notes.

· It’s smart storytelling, sort of. Instead of repeating the same competition with the same enemy and having our protagonist “win”, we have the abilities learned used in a different context but against the same enemy. This is why so many of the fighting or kung fu films don’t really work beyond an entertainment level, they always seem to be about fight repetitions, with small and mostly unnoticeable changes in the context of the fight, here we have something else. I hope this isn’t resolved in a drift race. There’s violence here.

· The image of Sean and the girl inside the car as they drift in front of dozens of people, reflected on their faces, was really beautiful to look at.

· Oh, fuck no. No. No. No. FUCK. FUCK. FUCK THIS MOVIE. He was the only good character!

· You see? Han disappears and everything that I admired about this movie disappears at the same time, here comes Sean with a ‘peaceful solution’, to what? I have no idea. But here he says that a race should be in order, so what are we doing? Repeating the fight from the start, but this time he has more abilities and thus will, most probably, win. That is lazy.

· I. Don’t. Care. About. The. Stupid. Car.

· Ah, the Elder comes to see the race, even though he understands nothing about the whole thing, he just comes to see a debt paid. Also, you know what now bothers me more than anything? The protagonist’s fucking accent, it seems acted and forced, and I don’t like that.

· That race in the night had a more clear approach at what was happening in the screen than in any other race, plus, it felt real, the risk was there and it was palpable. Besides the final ‘shock’, which looks ludicrously fake, the whole sequence is some of the best I’ve seen yet.

· What??? Vin Diesel? Ok, so at least this movie ties up to the original Fast and Furious, at least in some way. For now, it seems that number 2 was the real outlier of the franchise. Will we ever see any of the characters of this movie in the next installments? I dunno.

· So, I personally think that this movie has a lot of good and a lot of bad at the same time, but I’d say that the good elements that were gearing for a better score from me were ruined by a weak last 15 minutes.

6/10

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Fast & Furious (2009, Justin Lin)

· Ok, this starts right out the bat with some exciting stunts. And with familiar faces. And… oh… oh my God, no. Is it… Could it be…? Han? Why is he here? Wasn’t he dead? Does this mean this is in the past? Oh my God, this movie already looks better.

· Again with the crazy truck drivers, how much are they really paying these drivers, don’t they have some sort of insurance in events like these? And now after all that he’s done, he jumps off because he saw a turn that was too much for him to turn around to? And thus he brings down his own doom, as if he just stopped and got off the truck, all would’ve been fine.

· That was a cool opening sequence, I like how it brings forward both the gasoline situation in Latin America at the end of the 2000s, that still is revelant to day, yes, gasoline is like gold around here. Also, it reintroduces the characters for people who didn’t see the first film and didn’t really get to know them at all even if they’ve seen them. It’s curious how it seems that with these few minutes I already understand more about the relation between the characters than in the entirety of the first film. Economy.

· Ah, there he goes, Han mentions that maybe he’ll go to Tokyo because things are being crazy down there. No, please don’t leave this movie, and don’t leave off to Japan, you will die! Let’s change the future!

· And now Paul Walker is a badass. And the amount of shitty music in Spanish is astounding, as if they just surveyed and made the worst decisions on what sounded more dated. We are miles away from the first movie and its use of Molotov, maybe the only consciously great music decision ever done in this series of films.

· I know that the Michelle Rodriguez character doesn’t really die because she returns in a later installment of the series, but still this might’ve been a shock for some, and specially for the actress, who was so tired of dying in all the movies she was in, spoiled them and said that all four movies that she would appear in 2009, she would die in them. And it was true! Well, at the moment it was true. Is it already hinted at that the whole funeral is a trick to capture Toretto in some way? Strange. And Toretto suspects somethings too, he wants to see where she crashed.

· How much restraint a movie about car chases and car crashes have so that one of its sequences is only flashed in the editing instead of fully shown. Oh, forget it, they showed it. I liked what they did and how now Vin Diesel’s character is some kind of Sherlock Holmes that is better than the police to know what happened in an accident, he is a superhero.

· Toretto here builds a vengeful persona that coincides with the mysterious and violent image that was built in the first film, as long as the bonds with the family. Paul Walker on the other hand just seems to be a character without a fully built persona, hence in the first movie he is a cop with doubts, in the second one he is a cop that turns a bit into a criminal, and in this one he plays a federal that, until now, is a bit of straight edge, but with an interest in the family of Toretto due to an earlier bond of blood and friendship that was burned due to the circumstances of the time.

· The crash of the window and thus the reunion between Walker and Diesel couldn’t be more perfect, in a way its done in their style, both at their most restful: one in violence and the other one in restless search of the truth. In a way, both are going to reverse and return to these roles of peaceful position throughout the movie.

· Paul Walker is one violent fuck. Here we see how his search mode has already been reverted to a violent mode.

· Here comes the car porn, here’s when the guys who love cars take their cock out in the theaters and start jacking it.

· This is the weakest “driver meetup” of the series so far, it’s like corporate, a square fortress, blue and surely, it works in the sense that it’s this competition place for Braga, the bad guy that has institutionalized the drug traffic, but it’s still weak in a way that it makes it uninteresting.

· GPS! It dehumanizes the race, it makes it about the machines and not the human emotions behind the race. It also brings forward a lot of uninteresting graphics that make it seem modern. And GPS is so annoying, is it really needed in a film like this? Someone telling you how to get to your destination? Mh, a choice to think about. Hah. Rerouting. I knew they wouldn’t budge to that kind of nonsense.

· The stunts in this race are interesting, but the race itself isn’t bringing anything new to the shot palette. The cinematography is brilliant though, it works well in the night, and the bright cars are interesting when contrasted with the overall cyan cinematography of the night. Nevertheless, the structure of the race is very much straightforward, specially when compared to the “based around obstacles” races in Tokyo Drift. There are many obstacles for Walker, as he drives off the main road that the GPS points at, but it more seems like a test of character of Walker, it’s not about the race itself, it’s about the situations in which Walker finds himself into, and thus makes his situation irrelevant in terms of the overall result. It’s funny, but not necessarily needed in the context of the situation.

· “Papa Dwight likes the foot” Eugh. That composite shot of the police going in, and the interior of the apartment, its mostly untouched and runs its course pretty fine. Also, this is blue meth before Breaking Bad… I think it was before?

· “Buzz, women, all yours…” Umh.

· Man, these movies have a thing for framing women kissing for the pure titillation of the male-gazing viewer. I don’t see it in any other light, really, there’s no covert feminism here, as I’ve said mentioned here and there. Maybe the Michelle Rodriguez character had something in her, but… she’s dead.

· “Are you of those boys who prefers cars to women?” Yes, the audience all raised their hands, yes. Butts and car rumps. Yes.

· The police calls to say that he is going too fast when he’s supposed to do it, because if he doesn’t appear fast enough he would be suspicious in his undercover job. Is the police stupid? Yes, yes they are stupid.

· Is that a NOS can of soda? What? Huh? I’d drink it, unless it’s actual Nitrogen.

· Does that thing in the USA-Mexico border exist? It’s like a post-apocalyptic version of the border tensions, that looks like a heat signature monitor, but at the same time it’s more like a bazooka or a ray-gun ready to shoot any illegal alien that tries to pass through. Scary stuff.

· But that whole tunnel thing lacked any kind of real tension. A bit boring.

· Ok, that exchange between Toretto and the ‘boss’ was kind of amazing, because Diesel manages to maintain his cool and at the same time knows enough about what happened and about what will happen for the rest of the film. It’s a chase for the ages, a taste of revenge and now the search for the man behind the machine.

· “The last place they check? Their own impound yard”. Yes, I got that.

· I love callbacks, and the ’10 second car’ one was kinda nice. A payoff all the way from part one.

· “What is your code, Brian?” Yes, I guess that’s the problem with Paul Walker’s character, he doesn’t seem that well defined when it comes down to his alliances and what he works for and who he works for. He doesn’t have a motto like Toretto, and the fact that most likely he will just adhere, finally, to the philosophy of someone else makes him an uninteresting character in this series. And thus, makes the second movie, the one he had to run all by himself (alongside Rome) the weakest so far.

· “She did it for you!” is cheesy, but it works on a gut level, just like the whole scene, you don’t expect a movie with so many turns and secrets, specially when on the surface it seems simpler. A nice touch to bring it all together. Now, if they could explain in a satisfactory way how or why she didn’t really die, I’d be happy.

· The whole negotiation and everything that happens in the exchange is tense in certain moments, it’s as if they just realized and remembered that they needed to confirm who this evil drug overlord really is, and the fact that it is the same guy that they’ve been dealing with the whole time could be part of the clichéd world in which these kind of scenes exist, but it works for a couple of minutes while the fingerprint is being scanned (oh, so precisely, in that specific moment) and the facial recognition is being printed out.

· Letty is called Leticia Ortiz. Chicana wey.

· Oh, so it’s called ‘gearhead’. Here we just call them “tuercas”, that is like calling someone “screws”. And now they both bond in a deeper sense and do something meaningful together. Thus, the family is formed and the bond that will continue for, at least, three more movies, is set to go. Aaaand she fucks Toretto’s sister. All’s good.

· That Russian lady that always says “vaya con Dios” is maybe the most useless character in this entire film, every scene with her could’ve been excised and nothing could’ve gone wrong, nothing could’ve changed and in fact there’s no emotional involvement between her and Toretto, as much as they want to hint at it, they just never will do, because the memory of Letty is too powerful in the memory and in the film itself. Even the audience would’ve felt betrayed if anything happened between them. Specially when we think about how Rodriguez is still alive.

· The church scene, except for the fact that both the padre and Braga aren’t such brilliant actors when they talk Spanish, it’s really powerful. It talks loads about a relation that is maybe unknown in most markets from around the world, because this is exclusive Latin American church silencing the death and the crimes of some very powerful overlords in exchange of money. I know this kinda works like this in the whole world, but the blessing and all, the fact that the criminal himself is a believer, that is the difference here.

· “Just stop. Stop the car”. Yah. You wish.

· This race through the desert reminds me of the Mad Max films. No restraint, cars flipping over, blowing up, turning, crashing, leaving steam and dust behind.

· I am not a fan of the CGI cars though.

· The crumbling of the tunnel, while with some not-so-great effects, had the correct punch towards the end of this chase, maybe one that was a bit too plain in terms of structure, as it has way too many cars going almost in formation chasing a couple of them. The tunnels do bring an interesting constraint but the lack of turns and real obstacles just turns it into some kind of race, but the timing of certain sequences and scenes give this a necessary tension that didn’t exist in other films, as the main drive of Toretto here is the vengeance, the death of the man who killed (heh) his wife or partner or whatever she was.

· What? Toretto in jail? To life? No.

· Paul Walker is now a bad guy and here we have a callback to the first scene and it’s nice that we now have his sister on the case of freeing his brother, and we don’t really need to see the aftermath, because we know they’re good at what they do.

· Overall, I think this might actually be the first film of the series that can be watchable. It’s mostly entertaining through even the roughest stretches and the legend of Vin Diesel is cemented as one of the most important characters. We are given a little snippet at the end of what can we expect from the future of this series and overall is not that offensive in any way than the other films might end up being. A cause of celebration! The best F/F film so far!

7/10

Oh, look, there’s a short film related to this movie, let’s see what it has for us. I hope it’s better than the other fucking short.

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Los Bandoleros (2009, Vin Diesel)

· So yeah, right off the bat: Vin Diesel, director. Interesting, let’s see what his chops are.

· This is almost like a documentary I saw once, called ‘La chirola’ (2009). This is starting to be a serious indictment on almost everything that the series is about, is Vin Diesel taking some chances here with what he was tasked to do?

· It seems to be that this is a prequel to the earlier film, why didn’t this play before like in the other DVD? Why is this listed as a continuation? Maybe this was deemed too political for a Latin American DVD release. The cinematography isn’t really great, but the interaction between the people and the social reality is stronger than anything else in the rest of the films. I would’ve never imagined that Vin Diesel had this kind of sensibility.

· Oh, and there’s Han. Hi, Han, I missed you!

· This brings out a social and political context to the heist at the start of the film, with the whole concept of gasoline as the most precious material in Dominican Republic. And Vin Diesel’s spanish isn’t half bad.

· There’s a sense of communion that is perfectly Latin American, with the whole thing about calling people for dinner, the large tables, the kids running around watching grown ups doing their work, the poor streets, the poor meals, but how the family comes together anyways.

· Hey, they bless the meal, like in the movie later, so here’s where his religious affiliation comes from.

· That was the lamest and simplest prison break ever.

· I love how they call Han, ‘el chino’, because here in Latin America we have the disrespectful manner to say that any Asian is Chinese, no matter his actual heritage or country of origin. Something I’ve been trying personally to battle, specially in this country, but here it’s endearing as it means that it’s studied in terms of our uncultured behavior.

· Well, we now know that Han has never actually ever visited Japan before he leaves for it at the start of the movie that this supposedly preceded. That’s an interesting fact.

· The stereotypical Latin American corrupt politician though, that I really not dig that much.

· Nice first movie callback here, with the talk about skanks, Michelle Rodriguez, show him who you are girl, show him how you are a real woman.

· Michelle Rodriguez is surprised by the closeness of Vin Diesel to the Dominican people, and she is pleased and intrigued at the same time. Nice touch there. For the real movie to spend so little time in Dominican Republic, I think this is a nice tribute to their people, their culture and their language.

· This is a very just hangout sweet moment between Vin Diesel and Michelle Rodriguez, and it feels really so natural, like a long-time known couple that is reuniting for a long time, and they play it so well, so naturally, so greatly, I mean, I’m getting a bit emotional here.

· And it ended? MAAAAAAAAAN.

· This was actually sweet, but a bit disjointed, it depends way too much on the feature that came after it. And it seems divided in two parts that are completely different one from the other, they are both good, but they could’ve been great if they maintained or eased in a smoother way the other plot points. I can understand a F/F fan not liking this, but at the same time, I am not a F/F fan, and this was sweet sweetness.

7/10

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Fast Five (2011, Justin Lin)

· It seems that the stunt that liberates Toretto at the start of this film was filmed for the earlier film, as it is much a continuation and not something entirely new, as told through reports and scrambled TV footage, a stylish approach that doesn’t work nor makes sense. Why is it scrambled? Is it watched through shitty internet? I don’t understand those approaches.

· Brazil, you know, the country for escaped criminals. Meh.

· “Being on the other side of a Wanted Poster”. Cheesy, but works. It is true that in the final scene of the last film Paul Walker becomes more conscious of his own position in the movies spectrum of what is good and what is evil, who does he align with, and now it’s clear and thus becomes a more interesting character.

· The absence of Toretto impregnates these sequences, it has become usual to associate him with these series, even though he was absent from most of two films of the series. But his presence is commanding, as if he was the only reason for the existence of this series, and it’s true, he might not actually be the best character, but he is the muscle and the one that gives a philosophical depth to the whole issue of car racing and car tuning and the chases and turns, pirouettes and all. Here they mention that they don’t need him, thus they are focusing in easier targets and easy money, easy heists so that they don’t feel the need of Toretto.

· “No extradition”. Funny how this is played as something good and even as a heartwarming scene, but in fact it’s a real issue about how countries won’t play by the rules of the world, and here in Chile it was truly a problem for quite some years. And while we’re supposed to feel for the criminals in this movie, I don’t feel so sure about what they’re up for.

· That car going through the barren lands of Brazil looks like something out of Mad Max’s upcoming film. Again, another hint at the fact that this movie is some kind of science fiction dystopian land of sorts.

· And Toretto is back, well, we couldn’t really have much of a film without his presence. And, of course, the input in this heist is minimal, but he introduces enough changes to affect the outcome, as he is supposed to do, and thus the whole thing goes to shit, as expected.

· Cars are such a small portion of this heist, though the main drive for it, that this doesn’t feel like the first film at all, something that already started to disappear with the fourth film. The cars are an anecdote, something that appears to satiate the thirst of those first fanatics that have certainly mutated into something else, into lovers of the characters beyond the cars, something that really hasn’t happened to me yet, but I can see happening because they have an easier way in, and thus they are more eager to fall in love with the characters present. This is an action film that goes beyond the sport, and it’s a crime film that goes beyond the crime of illegal racing or some mobs, this is the real deal: a gang of friends coming together to do some crime all over the world.

· The physical destruction of stuff (cars, the train, the people, the vehicles, the steel, burning) is what I like the most of these stunts.

· “I hear your sister is very beautiful”. The classic scenario, some bad guys are angry and thus chain our heroes to the ceiling by their arms in an orange tinted light, they are menaced and given an ultimatum that ends in death. But no matter how bad the situation looks, they manage to escape out of the previously impossible predicament in which they were in. So far this looks like an every day 80’s action film that was made in 2010. Sadly, there’s no risk here, as I’ve seen this scene play so many times in so many other not-so-good movies.

· You know what’s crazy? They never seem to forget that this is, after all, a movie about cars. They’re always present, in the dim light of that warehouse in which Toretto and Walker were caught there’s the shape of a big car in the background. The scene ends but it’s not addressed, maybe it will, maybe it won’t, but it’s there, and I find it funny. It’s almost like “hey, fanatic, look there, there’s a car”.

· And the next scene finds Mia Toretto standing next to the car she stole listening to the radio. Well.

· Yes, The Rock is here. Immediatly he brings forward a presence, he both has a commanding voice, he has a posture that demands attention, and he is quick to demonstrate that his choices, while at the start seem arbitrary, you know that they will be logical down the road. “I like her smile” and “Stay the fuck out of my way” are among the 10 best lines of this series, in a series that isn’t described by great dialogue, at all, but quite the contrary: cheesy, serviceable and downright awful (part 2 is a big criminal in that area).

· I do not dig the figure of the corrupt Latin American politician. It’s clichéd as a bad guy, and it doesn’t bring anything forward, not a reality, not a necessity, nothing more than the constant unbreakable paradigm that we are fucked beyond belief, and that may be true, but it’s not always the politician’s fault.

· “Look at our family now”. That must’ve hurt.

· The girl with the smile may turn into a major player in this series of films, she is a powerful woman with a motivation and while she seems to be under the order of The Rock, she might end up having her own independence and overall great moments in this film and maybe others. I mean, we hope. The Toretto sister is already becoming a powerful figure, an equal in a team of criminals, a household that tries the best to protect family and she is part of that family, but at the same time she isn’t someone that must be protected, but one that must also fight for her right. I guess I’m getting close to the things that some critics have said about these movies and women. But maybe it’s a bit late, I mean, number 2 was a stupidity that every day looks worse and more ridiculous in an already ridiculous series.

· “It’s a delivery schedule”. Your delivery of that line there, Vin Diesel, wasn’t what we could call stellar, boy.

· Wow, Dwayne Johnson’s character doesn’t fuck around, he goes around shooting, knifing, twisting necks like a boss and he doesn’t give a flying fuck about what he does to get his hands over the criminals that he’s looking for. He is a brute force.

· At least on a surface this look straight up like the favelhas, I’m wondering if it was filmed or maybe it’s the most precise reconstruction and one of the bigger sets built for this kind of purpose. In both ways it’s commendable, the places that they’ve jumped from and to they all look different, either they just used some clever framing and composition for their shots, or they were very very resourceful, it’s impressive for a film that supposedly it’s about cars that they just spent this amount of time in a chase by foot where they can’t use cars. It’s almost a testament that their abilities go beyond those that we’ve known and have learned about.

· “I’m pregnant”. Oh, welp.

· Aw, that hug and his line about the family getting bigger is maybe the most emotional thing Diesel has ever done this side of ‘Los Bandoleros’ (2009).

· “If he goes to the bathroom, I want to know how many times he shakes it”. Oh, Dwayne, only you could sell that line and make it both funny and awesome. Even though he’s kind of a bad guy for our protagonists, he is still becoming one of the most endearing characters of the series.

· That recruitment sequence was simple, a bit overused, but at the same time amazing, it ties everything together, and they all come close together, and suddenly this movie becomes about a mission, a mission that tried to do what? Who cares? We are here to see all these characters together, here we are on the same ground Russians, Latinos, Asians, Blacks, White, Mixed, Men, Women, all of them as one team that works together for a bigger purpose. Just impressive what the producers (I doubt anyone else could do this) pulled off with this, they just managed to make everyone happy, everyone who wanted their favorite character back is now there. Impressive to say the least. And, you know me, they had me at Han.

· Hilarious thing about when Vin Diesel meets Rome, they just look at each other in a special way, and he just says that he has heard a lot about him. Of course! He was the Vin Diesel replacement, there’s a inside joke there for those who have suffered through (or enjoyed, who knows) these movies many times, only they would get that kind of homage and callback. And, as you know, I love me some callbacks.

· Also funny about his exchange with Han, about the Ritz, is how Han was the first one to bitch about Dominican Republic and where they were staying. Now, a callback to a short film that maybe not all of the viewers saw, that’s some ballsy stuff. A wink for the true fans.

· What the fuck is going on? I thought they would use the huge numbers on their favor to rob the ten places at the same time, but no. I guess the movie just turned a bit on me, it actually managed to surprise me. What will happen? I may be intrigued for the first time in this series of movies.

· I get it.

· Sorry, I’m just trying to be specific on my reactions, but this is some Mission Impossible level plan that will need step by step discussion that I’m not willing to give, because you will have to see the movie for yourselves or you’ve already seen it, but damn. This is some heavily plotted stuff that is mainly purely entertaining, playing to the strengths of every actor and character. I guess I can’t help but enjoy myself, get along for the ride.

· They are using a robot to see what they need to rob. This is great. And so science fiction it hurts.

· This scene is playing entirely in a well spoken Spanish, not the first time for the series, but maybe the first that isn’t interrupted with some silly english speaking character to ruin the whole sequence.

· And now we regress, they come ‘back home’, they go back to the street racing scene, but this time in Brazil, and to them they don’t want to know anything about them being chased by the police. And wow, they just did it, they just cut the whole chase that they did to win the car that they needed, quite a ballsy move. In a way this signals a change in the series. In the second film they showed and ate a good ten minutes with a pointless race sequence to get some cars that they needed. I guess this is something else.

· The Russian girl drifts and Han says he’s in love. Amazing.

· This confrontation between Toretto and Dwayne Johnson is maybe the most impressive show of character, of every character, in the entire series. It uses the crowds, the mob, as a weapon to confront the powers that control the liberty of the civilians who just want to be liberated from the oppressive ways of a monopolistic world-dominating hegemonic ideology, like the one from the United States. It’s a highly subversive scene, and at the same time it serves to move the plot forward, it’s not pointless, it’s another gear in this big plan that will surely unfold next.

· They are still just kids, they are playing around while risking their lives, they have to leave some steam, and this gives the producers, the filmmaker and the viewers a chance to see and perform a race, something that they haven’t done in this film, at least onscreen. It’s an inventive way to do it, to do it just for fun, just as it was in the beginning.

· Paul Walker will never get the pleasure hahaha.

· “That’s a baby gift!” This movie does manage and is very funny while maintaining a tension about what’s going on.

· Followed by a great fight between The Rock and Vin Diesel, and an ambush that looks like a war zone from the latest Call of Duty videogame with urban assault and warfare. It is now that everything that seemed to go fine turns to shit and at the same time is given an emotional depth, something that every character must force through so it has a value, so everything that comes up next makes sense. Though the bonding after such a tremendous fight is kinda not believable. Who are these terrorists though? They look exactly like the ones from Counter Strike.

· This sequence is tightly choreographed, it’s a travel through Brazil and at the same time the most impressive way to present obstacles: dragging something, creating difficulties for both sides of the chase, an incredible sequence that is both tense and works as a high, this is what the movie’s been gearing towards its entire length.

· What else there is to do but laugh about it though, eh, Dwayne?

· Fuck, that’s a lot of money. For such an awful song in the background that is.

· And they are in Monaco living the big life, and I’m guessing they just fuck it up. Yep, they did.

· They are just big kids playing to measure their dicks.

· “We’ll get there… eventually”. Yes, Han, please, don’t go to Tokyo, you’ll die there!

· “You believe in ghosts?” Well, I already knew she was alive, but I guess that was a big deal if seen at the correct time.

· Well, surprisingly this was kinda great. Well, not quite right, because I knew this was considered to be good by some critics that I trust, but I don’t easily give in to the Vulgar Auterists. This had a group of people that were defined not only by their words but also through their actions, their stunts and the way that they react to whatever is happening in these movies. This one moved far away from the issue of racing cars, and it’s given more gravity to their skills, but in the end it’s always known that their racy ways will never end, but that’s because it ends as some sort of game, their diversion, the way that they are moved by things is merely via their cars, and while that may be weak for some, at least it gives them something to think about when they are being chased all over the world.

8/10

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Furious 6 (2013, Justin Lin)

· This is neat, now it’s been three movies in a row that they’ve started where the other movie ended, makes for a nice marathon style viewing, like the one I’m partaking. Oh, but, not really, they are just hurrying to be present at the birth of Paul Walker’s son. And everything will change. But we have this movie and the new one. Well, clearly something happens.

· That was a nice wrap-up opening credit sequence, something that it’s a first for these movies, to do some kind of recollection of what has happened so far. It even used scenes from the short ‘Los Bandoleros’ (2009). Honestly, that seems so far away right now, even though it was probably just a few hours early. It seems as if, I’ve grown with these, even though I despise more than half of the films I’ve seen of this.

· So, apparently Dwayne Johnson’s character just wants a nice little girl alongside him in wherever city he goes to. Sounds sexist, but it’s kinda empowering as the other one had the opportunity to surpass him in wit. Also, he is just harassing a witness so he gives him the information he wants. Neat and illegal, wait, how is he keeping his job? He let go some criminals a few months earlier.

· “If you wanna catch wolves, we need wolves *sniffle* Let’s go hunting”. He just keeps having the best lines in these movies, right?

· Vin Diesel just had sad sex because he misses Michelle Rodriguez.

· Now, how did Dwayne Johnson find Toretto is my guess as good as mine, I guess people don’t ask how these kind of things happen in the F/F movies but they will cry hours about how Batman got into a city that supposedly no one could enter. Ah, fuck it.

· “I need your team”. Well, the delivery right there wasn’t great, it’s not like Dwayne Johnson is a bad actor or anything, but he’s not the greatest either, but at the same time I expect more from the guy that managed to pull off the performance that he delivered in ‘Southland Tales’ (2006). I love this guy.

· Wow, it’s been a while since we’ve had some ass shot in these movies. I mean, the last movie was in Brazil and it didn’t have any ass, and that’s like the country of ass. I’m going to say that maybe this movie needs to compensate for lacking something else.

· The whole set-up to catch Han and make him accept the job looks like a 90’s HK action film, and I love how they immediately assumed action film positions as if ready to fly through the air. I was actually expecting, due to the unexpected nature of the scene, to someone be behind them and yell “Cut!”, that Han and the Russian girl had become some sort of actors of cheap HK action films, but, alas, it was just a homage.

· IT’S ROMAN. BITCHES! Oh, ok. Didn’t know that, thanks for spelling it out.

· I just recently knew that the actor that plays Roman is actually a rapper named Ludacris. Well, if that tells you anything about me, is that I need to stop going out because I’m maybe the least clever or actualized person that you know.

· The perfect life of Paul Walker and the Toretto sister seems so boring, and it’s purposely framed that way, with boring sweeping camera movements, boring bright cinematography and boring music: it is the ending of the movie but put at the start, just to put an accent in the fact that this is not the life that they want nor the one they want to live through, it comes to signify something: there’s no ending to the adventure, this might seem like an end, but it’s not really it, they will always find a way to move forward, to hop on cars and start a new adventure once again.

· Well, she seemed fine with the idea of being left alone with the baby. She will end up being a helicopter mom for sure. That is if she’s not killed in this movie or the next. Which would be cruel.

· “Way better than that trash in Rio”. Interesting concept of differentiating between an independent job crowdsourced between the members of the project, and a project with an official funding to catch and do a heist.

· This briefing is unimportant and Rome makes it clear, he just mumbles around looking for change, interrupting The Rock while he speaks and tell us about what’s going on. Apparently it’s a chaff bomb of sorts that would turn off communications for 24 hours. The final goal after that? Only the guy making the bomb could guess. The fame of this team has made them important in an underground level, they have the power to negotiate, even if what they’re doing is illegal. So, this movie, after 4 and 5, has turned into a team of Bond-like superheroes joined by the concept of “family”, that seems to be highly important to them, and its always a heartfelt sentiment, but at the same time it hasn’t been truly explained to us yet, maybe it’s here that we finally get a sense of what we have to think about whenever Toretto says “family”.

· “This is a whole different level”. The makers of this series have stepped up the game and know that it’s moved beyond the racing games because seven movies can’t be around such a simple, boring and inane concept.

· Once again with the vehicles that look as if Mad Max had been a real event in the past (or the present). I like to think that these films have been inspired by these Australian films a great deal, specially when it comes to the shift between movies in tone and in what they want to achieve, and specially about what the characters do. Shaw drives a vehicle that is like a F-1 made by Mel Gibson.

· This chase is a bit different because this might be the first time that Toretto and the team are the ones chasing. We are given two perspectives: Shaw drives away, Toretto and The Rock chase behind, the other cars turn and are destroyed with every smash and hit and turn that they make, the bad guy being chased is giving those behind him obstacles, and thus works the whole thing in a more entertaining manner, with moments of exhilarating tension as if the cars will crash on top of each other and thus cause more mayhem (funny thing: Toretto has to dodge the flying cars that come towards him, but The Rock just passes through because he is in a fucking tank). The other perspective is the one of the rest of the team, led by Paul Walker that are trying to catch whatever is going on at Interpol.

· And now all the bad guys have the Mad Max cars. And there’s a girl with them. The last time there was a bad girl, she turned out to come and be part of Toretto’s family and have a loving relationship with still my favorite character: Han. So, she has a chance of becoming important, and she is really the only being distinguished clearly besides Shaw.

· Well, they’ve surely met their match. This is the first time I’ve seen them in real trouble, crashing and destroying their cars without them meaning to do that themselves. This actually brings an element that was missing in earlier films: the possibility of failure, that wasn’t really an option in these series because we think the characters are too awesome and cool.

· And both roads converge in a roundabout. Cool. Still, I think that besides that roundabout that makes thing a bit more connected, it doesn’t necessarily makes things complicated, as it is mostly a straight road for the most part, and thus a race (who goes faster), but at the same time whenever any obstacles are created, they remain fairly similar and not truly connected to the ability of the drivers. I’m saying that they’re cheating, specially in the kind of contextual race in which they are, much like when Toretto hit Walker to win the race, but still… I think I’m going around in circles. What I’m trying to say, a turn or two wouldn’t do this part any bad.

· Well, that was actually very stupid Dwayne Johnson, you’ll lose him now.

· Holy fuck, Letty actually shot Toretto. She doesn’t need no man.

· “007 type shit? This is not what we do!” Interesting to find a movie so self-aware without trying to be funny, but actually trying to bring a discussion to the plate, what do these movies turned into? Even though they try to play it as a joke, I think that Rome here tries to bring forward a real issue, after all, he was in a movie that kinda preceded this, in terms that it was about busting a criminal, but at the same time it was still grounded in a street racing culture that surrounded the plot and made it less interesting, at the same time ludicrous and uninteresting. I think he is stuck in his second film.

· “Give them the respect that they deserve or it weakens us”. Now that’s a great line, a bit cheesy, but not that much.

· Usually in movies about teams fighting teams there are usually doppelgangers, and here is made evident, once again, by Rome, who seems to be the only one aware that he is in a movie, but though he seems to be the comic relief, these kind of remarks sound too off to be full-on jokes intended for an audience laugh. He is breaking the wall, but he’s not waving at the audience, he is doing so to know what the wall was made of.

· This whole scene is annoying: they are just making a commercial for the car first, then they make an awful comparison between marriage and tuning a car, then the obnoxious stereotype of snobby British guy making fun of the looks of our protagonist. That was not a good scene, maybe the first completely badly thought bad scene in this movie.

· Another bad scene follows: Rome makes an awful joke about Mobi Dick that I don’t think counts as a joke, and then there’s a repeat of a similar scene done in the last film, where the Russian girl seduces to get what she wants. Han is aware of that repetition even. This isn’t going that well.

· If they were going to apply violence, then what was the difference with what the men would’ve ended up doing?

· Well, that was an unexpected and a played for laughs resolution of a problem. It was ok.

· What? Braga? Interesting also that it was the Russian girl that heard this, but isn’t Braga dead? Well, if Michelle Rodriguez is alive, I guess I can’t really say if Braga is alive or not.

· Moving through crowds and a standard chase sequence happens, it’s shot in an orderly manner, and you can actually see and think logically about where everyone is, but nevertheless, this was done in ‘Skyfall’ (2012) too and it was already tired, it was even done in a similar location!

· Confrontation between the bad Asian dude and Han/Rome is again more evident resignification of these films: these are not movies about fights, and always the fighters have been people that later work together or already do, like the Toretto fights with Walker and The Rock. This is different, and it’s even evidenced by their position and halt in their chase that it’s actually awkward what is happening. That and the girl fight, but that is more understandable due to the fact that it’s the cop versus Michelle Rodriguez, they don’t have a bond.

· “You go”. “No, you go”. Now, that made me laugh, it’s awkward, honestly awkward. “No one needs to know about this”. Perfect. Hey! They managed to turn the whole sequence around.

· Why are they worried of getting back into the country? I mean, supposedly they are working with Interpol, and they are in London and not being chased, then… why would they have problems getting back to wherever they are worried to come back to? L.A. Man, why can’t the guy who actually lives in L.A. go?

· “Again?” Ok, that’s obviously a callback for something I remember barely.

· Oh, a can of NOS. I missed those.

· Oh, Braga was alive, now I remember. Man, these movies.

· That was some ret-con crap right there. I liked the sequence with Braga even if it was overall filled with exposition. Also, did you know? Braga in spanish means panties.

· Maybe this is a callback to their real life, hence the attention that Toretto has for Letty, maybe he met her at a street race and fell in love, and that’s why we are lingering on these shots even though we already know the information. Interesting concept, creating memories out of simple shots, that’s something that more filmmakers could do these days.

· A standard race, with some good stunts and some basic obstacles, like the small presence of a police car that is easily dispatched. I think this would be of zero interest if this didn’t have Toretto and Letty racing or if the cars weren’t of dark colors. They give a nice feeling, as if they were just rays of light racing one after the other, as if they were hiding in plain sight, just like they are doing right now with their memories together, that are hidden while this race happens. What will the outcome be? Also, NOS is back apparently.

· “That girl you remember. It’s not me”. Harsh, but on point. This movie plays with the classic film poetry of the ghost love interest, the woman that appears and disappears, changes, dies and is alive at the same time, which best example is probably ‘Vertigo’ (1958). Oh. Shit. I just did it, I compared a F/F movie with Vertigo. Done.

· Didn’t he get that cross from the Brazilian policewoman? I mean, why did it belong to her? How did it get there? Who was the husband and why did HE have it in the first place? I don’t understand this.

· That confrontation with Shaw was kinda clichéd, but it was handled with strong performances, giving it enough reason to exist. Oh, but that exchange with The Rock was really really lame.

· I’m trying to get at what this movie does great and what this movie does wrong. I think that this movie looks great, plays great, gets you in the motion, the editing is fine as well as the cinematography, but the story and plot elements are kinda weak because they’ve been seen before, this is like a rehash of three or four films put together and mixed up with some fresh new ideas here and there, but also with some pathos due to the time that this story has been going, and what do we have? A movie that I truly don’t know what to think about.

· Dwayne Johnson seems off in this particular segment of the film, he doesn’t nail his lines and he just barks orders, he is never approachable. And when he tries to be close, he fails at giving a convincing performance, I don’t know. He has some highlights, like the CCTV moment and the start of the movie, but here he has been kinda dead.

· So, that whole trip, fight and talk with Braga was pointless. Oh, WELL.

· Oh, you know, except for that phrase, it was all pointless.

· Holy shit, it’s a fucking tank and the reveal was AMAZING.

·  I love how they don’t care about the fact that the tank blew up some cars behind them and probably killed the people inside. And the tank is now crushing more cars and killing more people, as if they were play-doh. Fantastic, because it looks real and ruthless and mean.

· THA BRIDGE IS AUT

· Dare I say that I just think all of the stunts here are amazing, the “Rome jumps to the other car” stunt is easily one of the franchise’s high points. This whole sequence is.

· And another. Wow. That jump and the whole thing looked kinda fake, but most of it was real, and that’s what counts, we saw the entire arch of both bodies as they flew through the air and crashed, it was marvelous.

· I think maybe I got it. Fast is Fun. Furious is Serious. Um. Let me get you back on that one after number 7 is seen.

· “Never looked forward to filling paperwork in my life”. Man, that line is funny and great, but for some reason Dwayne doesn’t really sell it.

· Well, obviously something went wrong, because the movie isn’t over after all that amazing shit. I don’t know how they can surpass that.

· “We always talk about Tokyo”. “Tokyo it is”. NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO.

· This is some tense crap right here. The movie is playing me like a piano with overused tropes, overused music, clichés and even lines that aren’t that great, but it has me by the balls because I’ve managed to care. And for some reason, the Rock is our representative here, he is the one that supports them even if he knows he will regret it later.

· I KNEW THAT SHE WAS BAD. I mean, I didn’t say it but… oh, fuck off.

· Some nice night cinematography. It’s not, here I come again, like in the second movie or the first one, where there was a need to show off the cars more than what was happening, because what was happening was never truly interesting. Here what matters is the forces at play, the cars moving and the enemies fighting, nothing more, nothing less. Basic stuff guys.

· Wait. Wait. I just realized something. If the policewoman was always bad, and Michelle Rodriguez was bad at the time that they were fighting… why did they fight? Now they’re fighting again, obviously to call-back to that situation, but at the same time, we are supposed to think that “hey, now they’re in opposite sides”, when the first time they were on the same side. This is fucked up and actually dumb.

· Now, it’s kinda simple how they might end up facing their own doppelgangers, but I still kinda like it, and at least they don’t make the Asian fight the Asian again.

· Honestly, I missed The Rock fighting. And that was straight up wrestling moves there.

· Fuck. This reminded me that I take a flight in a couple of weeks. Fuck.

· No, no, no. Poor Han.

· Seeing a plane blow up is always fun.

· WOW. WHAT THE FUCK. WAAAAA.

· And this cliché ridden film couldn’t end with nothing else but Toretto rising from the flames. Of course. It’s so cheesy and perfect at the same time.

· Her name was Giselle? Well, I will miss you Russian girl.

· Man, this could’ve been a series ending. They come back to the start of the whole thing. A seriously less than good start, but still, a nice fulfilling circle. Why make a seventh film? Is it worth it?

· Well, obviously Han doesn’t call them and thus dies in part 3. I hope he appears in part 7 in some form.

· OH. OH. The girl that was with Toretto at the start was the Brazilian cop? Shit. I mean, whatever, I’m just stupid.

· That was endearing.

· That would’ve been a nice ending, you know? But, money.

· No, don’t do that, don’t let me watch Han die again.

· Jason Statham? What?

· So, what is all this then? For sure this was a movie that managed to tie everything nicely in a beautiful package, a really beautiful one with a great cinematography and sense of editing as well as how to choreograph. This might be, overall, the best F/F movie in terms of spectacle and how it’s handled, how it ties the stories together and how it just, overall, won me over. It’s also stupid as hell, but what else can I expect from a movie that is part of the series that had one of the most stupid first three entries in any series of films? I mean, I can only applaud, this might be the most exhilarating and stupid film ever done, and I can see what’s happening in the screen, and I care for the characters. This is already so so so much times better than any ANY other Transformers film.

8/10

And I made it out alive, I think. I don’t think I’ll get to see ‘Furious 7’ (2015) until later, but I did manage to see all the movies in one week, something I thought impossible, so before this goes out of fashion I’m going to catch the thunder and post these notes now and wait for your answers. So, what do you think guys? Have I done a good job or what?

To end it all, here’s a ranking of the F/F films in order of preference.

1. Furious 6 (2013)

2. Fast Five (2011)

3. Fast & Furious (2009)

4. Los Bandoleros (2009)

5. The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift (2006)

6. The Fast and the Furious (2001)

7. 2 Fast 2 Furious (2003)

8. Turbo Charged Prelude to 2 Fast 2 Furious (2003)

Hope you enjoyed!

One response to “Notes on the Fast/Furious Series

  1. It’s great that you’ve watched them so the rest of us don’t have to — many thanks! I wasn’t able to get through even the first.

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