Fast and Furious Marathon Journal (2001-2009) - Can't Stop the Movies
Can't Stop the Movies
27Apr/110

Fast and Furious Marathon Journal (2001-2009)

There are a few things in film I genuinely love: cars, men acting tough, explosions and a healthy smattering of Vin Diesel. So it is probably no surprise that I am a fan of “The Fast and the Furious” series. With the fifth movie shortly coming out in theaters– and adding The Rock to the cast– I am getting excited to rejoin the world of fast cars, Paul Walker and crazy action scenes. Because we have a day off and like turning things into events, sometime-contributor to our site Ben Erwin and I decided to watch all four previous films in the franchise in a marathon setting and share our thoughts in a massive daylong journal. Please take this testosterone-riddled journey along with us and– for at least a few hours– live your life a quarter-mile at a time.

Ryan- It is early morning here in my household and while the family is out, I am comfortable in my PJ,s watching the first film with the sound cranked and the film on my 6-foot projector screen. It is time to roll, baby.

Ben– While I am a casual fan of the franchise as a whole, I have to admit I haven’t seen the original two since their theatrical releases, and I have never seen “Tokyo Drift.” I’m not much of a “car guy,” but this may be the only franchise that makes me want to cruise an open highway at top speed.

Ryan- 1 minute in: Right off the bat, the car scenes start and they are at the expense of the franchises’ most tormented people, truck drivers. What does this film have against our truck drivers? They are repeatedly beaten up, robbed and picked on. Come on “Fast and the Furious,” let’s have some respect; truck drivers have given us such great things as “BJ and the Bear,” “Convoy” and the Patrick Swayze/Meatloaf epic “Black Dog.”

Ben- 1 minute: Product placement, ahoy. You know a film is going to be good when the third shot includes 100 Panasonic logos, all in focus and nicely framed.

Ben- 1 min 40 sec: We finally have cars, and they look both Fast and Furious. God, it seems like that took forever. Enough character moments and interminable exposition; I want Hondas with unnecessarily ridiculous spoilers. It took almost two excruciating minutes, but the film’s promise has finally been delivered.

Ben- 4 minutes in: a disclaimer to the kids out there: don’t test your car’s handling near that bluff.

Ryan – 4 minutes in, we are introduced to Vince, the generic muscle head who supposedly has a thing for Mia, but I think he is more jealous of the relationship between Dom and Brian. My third post and I am already finding homoerotic tensions in the film; trust me, we will see a lot more of these type of posts in “2 Fast 2 Furious.”

Ben- 5 min: Vin Diesel is filling out paperwork and glowering menacingly. You know, he’s a decent actor as long as he’s not saying anything or doing anything.

Ben- 6 min: Oooh, who’s the square-jawed tranny with flames on its boots? Oh, wait, just a pre-DUI Michelle Rodriguez. Nevermind. Move along; nothing to see here. The meathead with the awful dragon tattoos calls the wispy guy who is inexplicably wearing a stocking cap in summer “brother.” They’re family. Now that’s what I call showing and not telling.

Ryan- 11 minutes in: we have our first shot of the street racing. Signs that this film is kind of dated, the soundtrack is blaring Limb Bizkit. The guy that plays Jesse in “Fast and The Furious” and Mouse in “The Matrix,” are him and DJ Qualls interchangeable? I mean, would anyone notice if the two switched careers?

 

 

Our future is so bright, we gotta wear shades.

 

Ben- 12 min: Words of wisdom: “It’s not how you stand by your car, it’s how you race your car.” Thanks, Ja Rule. How’s that acting-rapper thing working for you these days?

Ryan- 18 minutes: our first race. I think the people in the “Fast and Furious” films use NOS more than I use the little arrows that speed you up in Mario Kart.
Ryan- I love all the oohs and aaahs in the scene where Dom is talking trash in mechanic speak to Brian. I feel like I stumbled into a bad Your Mama episode.

Ben- 22 min: Words of Wisdom: “It don’t matter if you win by an inch or a mile. Winning’s winning.” If no one has already written the Tao of Being Fast and Furious, I really want to now.

Ryan- 25 minutes in: we are introduced to the Asian biker gang. The snakeskin pants on one of the “heavies” doesn’t really give him a threatening vibe.

Ben- 27 min: I’m not a physics major, but I’m pretty sure a guy in a car can run over a guy on a motorcycle… especially if the motorcycle’s driver is 5’ 2” and wearing a mesh tank-top.

Ryan- After the biker gang, we are ready for Dom’s house party. Dom insults Vince in apparently the most humiliating way, HE GAVE BRIAN HIS BEER. Vince is not angry, he is just upset because Dom is breaking his heart.

Ben- 31 minutes: Now I know I’m not the demographic for this film. I could care less about any of the cars, but that Zakk Wylde signature model Gibson is a thing of beauty.
Ben- 34 min. Oooh, Brian meets Dom’s sister. You can almost see this movie becoming “Point Break” right before your eyes.

Ryan- 40 minutes in: another clue that the movie is getting old, a loving long shot of them putting a floppy disk into a computer.

Ryan- Vince the scorned lover shows up and disappears again. While we are at a lull in the story, can we think about whether the movie would have been the same without Paul Walker? I don’t know exactly what he brings to the franchise (heaven knows it ain’t great acting) but my least favorite film of the series is the one where he isn’t present. His Keanu vibe really is unexplainable and irreplaceable.

Ben- 45 min: I love that Harry’s is the most popular shop in the world of underground street racing, but there’s always plenty of parking for a crew pulling up all at once.

Ryan- Has there ever been a mystery less interesting or more predictable than who hijacked the trucks. Who didn’t think it was Dom from the beginning?

Vin wants to give you a hug.

Ben- 50 min: For a pack of criminals, these guys drive the most conspicuous cars on the planet.

Ben- 54 min: A “no smoking” message? Really? Of all the things in this movie the police might take umbrage with and it’s smoking?

Ryan- 56 Minutes: we get our first shot of Muscle Car Porn from the series. Does this car seem unnecessary and just there to just to excite the car freak? Yes, but it still excites this car freak.

Ben- 56 min: Oh my God, a REAL car. You know, for a movie about “cars,” this is the first one that doesn’t look like it came out of a cereal box.

Ryan- “I live my life a quarter inch of a time” Does a cheesy line sum up a series of a film so well?

Ben- 1:00: Cue the exposition. Why craft a backstory when you can relay decades of history through a single conversation. P.S. A woman is actually doing something in this film… and it only took an hour.

Ben- 1:02: Montage 2! At least this one has a song by the band Dope in the background. For more on failed Nü Metal acts of the late ‘90s, please consult your local library.

Ryan- 1:06: it’s time for race wars, but not before we have a scene of them embarrassing a Ferrari and Dom and Brian having another heart to heart.

Ben- 1:12: Where the Hell did these guys get a trailer? I’m willing to suspend a lot of disbelief to enjoy these films, but really? An Airstream materializes out of nowhere? I’m mostly shocked no one covered it with ridiculous decals and put neon lights underneath it.

Ryan- It is interesting watching the first film again after seeing all the other ones. I forgot how much the first film was just about race/car culture with the whole crime story just being a secondary piece of the film. Later on in the series the crime aspects become the big draw but The Fast and the Furious cares more about the cars, the racing and the world.

Ryan- I could do without the whole Jesse storyline. Apparently so did the other fans of the series because no character like him has shown up in the series since.

These cars are about to go fast and or furious.

Ryan- 1:21: I love scenes with actual cars and stunt drivers. They are so much better and thrilling than the CG enhanced scenes. The scene is still a great action set piece almost 10 years later. The lack of any music behind the action and just hearing the sounds of the cars and wind really add to it.

Ben- 1:25: For an action movie, this is the first scene in the film with any sense of suspense or actual action. For future reference, car speeding on vacant streets is to action as Dane Cook is to comedy: it’s an adorable attempt, but an epic failure nonetheless.

Ryan- Apparently the guy who played Leon, the one guy in Dom’s crew who had no story or much of a character at all is played by an actor with the name of Johnny Strong. Now THAT is an awesome name!

Ryan- 1:30 Jesse’s tragic end and the world goes on not caring but at least it gets Dom into the badass Charger for the end of the film.

Ryan- I still love the railroad drag race, even thought it ends with them wrecking the Charger.

Ben- 1:37: Nothing has happened for the last hour and they pack all of the action into the last 20 minutes of the film. The death of the Charger is by far the most heart-wrenching in this film.

Ryan- 1:39: and the movie ends with Ja Rule ditty on the credits. One big question I have. Whatever the hell happened to Leon? You see Dom, Brian, Mia and Letty in other films in the series. Jesse is dead and Vince is injured but Leon makes it through the movie unscathed and apparently not arrested. Is he still in LA waiting for Dom to come back and tell him what to do? I am just imagining him sitting by the phone for the last 10 years waiting for him to call.

Ryan- 1:46: After the credits, we see the last shot of Vin Diesel in the series for a long time. Adios Dom, enjoy your time off and we will see you later today.

We are about to start “2 Fast 2 Furious” and we see many changes between the first film and the second. Director Rob Cohen and Vin Diesel did not come back for the sequel, instead deciding to make the horrendous Extreme James Bond film “XXX.” Paul Walker is the only returning member of the cast, and it is on Paul Walker’s shoulders to keep the series alive, which he does. It opened bigger than the first but without as big of legs, and did more than enough to merit a third film. Lets take a look at the film now shall we?

“2 Fast 2 Furious”

Ben- 1 min: Just in case I had no idea what this movie was going to be about, the Universal logo just turned into a tire. Bring on the awesome.

Ryan- What director John Singleton does with the Universal Logo says all you need to know about what “2 Fast 2 Furious” is going to be like. We start the film at one of the patented racing scenes/party. Already I notice that there are a lot more neon colors in this film than the first. The Fast and The Furious was gritty washed out color and now we are in Willy Wonka’s Candy Warehouse.

Ryan- I love films that somehow work the name of their movie into the film but having it being played in the background during a rap song is somehow less awesome.

Ryan- Awesome dialogue, even better if you pretend they are talking about masturbating:

“Thanks for the invite.” 
"No problem at all just remember me when you wax alright”
 “They got deep pockets?” 
“(Laugh) Real deep”

Ben- 10 min: Apparently, it’s incredibly easy to close streets in Florida. Sadly, no one told the filmmakers that low-angle shots, blurs, and close-ups on characters eyes doesn’t actually build tension or suspense. I miss Vin Diesel already.

Greatest title ever? Maybe, just maybe.

Ryan- 12 minutes: we jump our first bridge.

Ben- 13 min: Why is Devon Aoki happy? Does she get a prize for second place?

Ryan- 14 minutes: Eva Mendes shows up and looks sexy. I have seen this movie a few times and I still can’t tell if she was supposed to be the love interest in this film. She and Paul Walker really don’t have any sort of chemistry but, by the end, she does become the damsel in distress.

Ryan- 19 minutes: we meet Brian’s true love interest in the film, Roman Pearce (Tyrese) a childhood friend of Brian’s.

Ryan- 22 minutes: Later, the two are rolling around in the dirt together. This movie kind of has homoerotic undertones between the two.

Ben- 22 min: No one raises an eyebrow when two grown men start beating the Hell out of each other. Where are they again? I want to go to there.

Ryan- 28 minutes: the villain of the piece shows up and it is the dude that was in “Pitch Black” who wasn’t Vin Diesel. Carter gives the drivers a task that is out of a video game and our heroes, along with a lot of stereotypes in much cooler cars, are off to retrieve something in a glove box.

Look at all the pretty colors.

Ryan- 34 minutes- Roman takes his shirt off to impress Brain (at least that is what I take from it) and because Tyrese is contractually obligated to show off his abs.

Ben- 34 min: Little-known secret: Tyrese actually breathes through his abs, so him removing his shirt without cause is a matter of safety. And nothing more. Seriously.

Ryan- 36 minutes: Roman is jealous of Brian because he is checking out Monica (Mendes). He gets in a tiff the same way my wife does when I admire a pretty woman. Like I said, LOTS of homoerotic subtext in this film.

Ryan- 40 minutes: Roman has to casually remark to Brian he isn’t wearing underwear. Not touching that one.

Ben- 41 min: If there’s anything you can count on in this franchise, it is that the women are shot as lovingly and as leeringly as the best of the cars. Of course, I’m not entirely sure what this says about the filmmakers… or the audience.

Ryan- 42 minutes: Roman remarks that he doesn’t want to stay with Brian “because he has bad habits”

Ryan- 44 minutes: Tyrese does his best Eddie Murphy impression from Beverly Hills Cop.

Ryan- I think Tyrese and Walker were trying to figure out what happens when, in a buddy picture, one person under acts and one person over acts through the whole film. I am not an expert, but I think that is how tornados are made.

Ben- This is precisely why male models should never be allowed to act. Blue Steel, Le tigre, Ferrari? They’re all the same look, people.

Ryan- 49 minutes: A first in the series, a tag team race. I am pretty sure by the end of the race, Brain had shifted his car into about 18th gear. Thankfully, this race gives the heroes much cooler cars to drive for the rest of the film.

Ben- 49 min: God, I almost forgot these movies were supposed to be about street racing and car porn, not buddy-com clichés.

 

I don't know if the fact that the cars match the people's are cute or sad.

Ben-53 min: Never before have I wanted a game of Chicken to end in mutual destruction.

Ben- 55 min: The Brain and Roman visit the nightspot frequented by their new Scarface-wannabe boss. As someone from the Midwest, this is what I assume all nightclubs in Miami are like… except for those asinine bubble chairs.

Ryan- 59 minutes: we are introduced to actor Mark Boone Junior, who has made a career out of playing dirty cops, playing (surprise) dirty cop Whitworth. They torture him via a rat; I would say that is creative, but something similar happened in the same summer’s “Bad Boys II.” Apparently 2003 was the year of the weird torture by small animals.

Ben- 1:01: I feel really bad for that rat. Sure, being tortured in a bucket is one thing, but being in this movie is another indignity entirely. Perhaps he and Paul Walker have the same agent.

Ryan- 1:05: We have yet another instance of Roman being jealous over Monica; this is getting awkward.

Ryan- 1:12: We are having the heart to heart between our heroes almost to the minute as the first film.

Ryan- 1:18: I do love me some car chases.

Ben- 1:18: Chase scene. I think the “Blues Brothers” already did this better.

Ben- 1:22: Thug: “You’re a good driver, man.” Brian: “Thanks, bro.” See, they’ve bonded. What could possibly go wrong?

Ryan- 1:28: ok, that was a long chase scene.

Ryan- 1:33: we are at the last part of the film and I still have not seen any kind of chemistry between Paul Walker and Eva Mendes. They never shared a kiss or even a meaningful glance. So was she a love interest or just a woman who is in the story? I am confused to her main purpose in the film.

I sense a love connection.

Ryan- 1:35: Dukes of Hazard jump from car to boat works for me. I am also happy that they actually showed that doing that would leave their mark on you.

Ben- 1:36: Suddenly, it’s not a movie about street racing and it’s not an action-crime film. What we have here is a glorified “Dukes of Hazard” episode. They could have at least had the decency to pay for a little Waylon Jennings.

Ryan- 1:40: The credits are rolling. While I like “2 Fast 2 Furious,” it is a much different than the original. I see this film as more of a parody of the first one. Everything is hyper stylized and over the top as opposed to the original, which was akin to a modern version of the B-movie car picture that was big in the 60’s and 70’s; but as long as you watch each film in the right mind frame, enjoyment can be had from both of them. The true test for me is coming straight up when I watch “Tokyo Drift,” a movie I really disliked the one and only time I watched it.

Ben- 1:40: I suppose it’s a long way from Boyz n the Hood” for John Singleton, but at least this wasn’t half as bad as that “Shaft” remake. These first two movies are both big, dumb fun. Thankfully, they’re equal part of each, and even the most ridiculous flights of nonsense are ultimately balanced by fun visuals.

Click here for part II

 

Posted by Ryan

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