In total, The Fast and The Furious Franchise has made over $5 billion worldwide, easily making it the most successful car franchise in cinema history. It’s clear that the series is a hit with fans and even critics too. The franchise has become an over-the-top, unrealistic action piece with some solid story mixed in, which is a far cry from the first film that came out in 2001. The first installment focused on the grounded realism of street racing and Paul Walker’s character going undercover to befriend Dom Toretto to gather more information about his operations. The Fast and The Furious was cheesy, but still, a fun movie, though it’s part of the reason drag racing became so popular on the streets. Nevertheless, the series kept the grounded realism up until Tokyo Drift, which not only scored a terrible audience and critic rating but is the lowest Fast film in terms of the box office.
Wisely, Fast & Furious shook up the formula by bringing back the original cast members and deviated from the realism of drag racing a bit. It became more than just street racing and that couldn’t have been further evident than in Fast Five. Two cars pulled a huge bank vault through the streets of Brazil and it was actually real! Well, at least in terms of practical effects. Somehow, despite Fast Five pulling off insane stunts, there was still a level of realism that balanced out the craziness. Sure, you’ll never see a bank vault roaming through your neighborhood anytime soon, but the film was a welcome deviation that didn’t take itself too seriously. The Fast franchise understood what they were at that point and audiences appreciated it. However, it’s noticeable how the franchise keeps trying to raise the bar as each film passes. Now, The Fast franchise clearly isn’t trying to win an Oscar. There’s simply nothing wrong with a movie that’s dumb fun. The series wasn’t so dumb in the vein of the Transformers movies as there was a nice balance of heart and story that went along with the action.
However, The Fast franchise has notably gotten ridiculous. The current films aren’t terrible per se, but because Fast Five set the bar so high, these movies have become a convoluted exercise in how can we top this. Han is alive, despite clearly dying in Tokyo Drift, though the films go the complicated route in explaining why he returned in two features before it was revealed that Deckard was the man behind his “murder”. Character motivations don’t seem all too realistic. Dom is suddenly a detective in Fast & Furious, Cipher has the ability to turn cars into zombies, and there are numerous of other unbelievable actions that has turned the franchise into a PG-13 violent Looney Tunes cartoon. Gone was that level of realism that even Fast Five had, despite the fact that there’s plenty of moments that could never happen in real life. The films have become a shell of what they used to be and the stories have become perplexing. There’s no signs of the franchise slowing down as audiences continue to eat this up, but what was once a thrilling exercise in escapism are a set of films that have lost the true sight of their purpose. Since the stunts become so unrealistic at this point, it’s hard to get invested in a world that dances between Burnout and Legos. Perhaps I’m taking these movies way too seriously. That’s not the purpose of the Fast saga. Like I said before, they’re not trying to win an Oscar; however, the reason the realism is so important because it helps you get invested into the action.
You actually feel that there’s a possibility that these characters could get into this sort of danger and it becomes an intense mind game of how can they get out of this? With the extremely cartoonish nature present in these films now, that element of suspense is long gone and it doesn’t really help the fact that Dom or most of the major cast never dies in these over-the-top stunts. How can I be invested in this horrific situation when Dom and his crew are protected by plot armor? Look, I think the switch Fast Five made was necessary to keep the franchise fresh, but these movies have lost the heart and soul of what made them so darn fun in the first place. Reportedly, Fast 10 will be the last feature so hopefully there’s some big surprises, and less of an Looney Tunes action fest that Dom and his crew miraculously escapes again.Looney Tunes
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