I remember watching The Fast and the Furious (2001) in my college dorm with some friends. I pointed out what a terrible actor Paul Walker is, and one of my female friends responded, “Paul Walker is a great actor.” I pointed out that “Girls like Paul Walker for the same reason guys like Pamela Anderson.” To which another friend responded, “What are you talking about, Pam Anderson is a great actress, I love watching her run up and down that beach!”
Let’s fact it, not all cinema is high art, and it’s admirable when a film, or a series of films, accepts this fact and moves on. This is why, twelve years later, the Fast and the Furious series keeps drawing audiences with little to offer as to artistic quality or intellectual stimulation. If my Twitter feed is any indication, the recent trailer during the Super Bowl has the series’ fans pumped for the sixth installment of the series.
I asked a friend what has him excited about the sixth movie in the series. First, he pointed out that these days most movies can be enjoyed in one’s living room well enough, but a movie like Fast and Furious 6 needs to be experienced in a theater. The trailer, after all, promised an over-the-top experience that couldn’t properly be contained in an apartment. It didn’t bother my friend that the Fast movies are extremely derivative and unoriginal. That’s what he loves about them – they offer fast cars, special effects, and over the top acting performances. In other words, two hours of pure audio-visual entertainment.
With award season upon us, it’s important to remember that what makes a film successful is not always the artistic quality, thought-provoking themes, or engrossing performances. Rather, a film is successful when it accomplishes what it sets out to accomplish. In the case of the Fast and Furious movies, this goal is to provide a two hour, popcorn and soda fueled, adrenaline rush. The series is not really my cup of tea, but I’m glad it’s out there as long as people enjoy it.
(c) 2013 D.G. McCabe