I’m “biast” (pro): nothing
I’m “biast” (con): Fast the First was fun; the franchise is picking up speed rolling downhill
(what is this about? see my critic’s minifesto)
The elephant in the pop-culture room at the moment is the obvious fact that Fast and Furious 6 and The Great Gatsby are the same movie. So I invited Nick Carraway to guest-review Furious.
Though I am by nature a man inclined to reserve judgments, I found myself instantly moved to astonishment by the gaudy spectacle of this tale. It is a colossal affair swollen with the hubris and arrogance of men who swagger across the planet trailing the foul dust of mayhem and death in their wake. And proudly so, it would seem to the more modest eye that cannot fathom such monstrosity in the cause of mere diversion from the mundanities of the world, an affliction that would appear to distress not only those observers who might turn to it for a satisfactory distraction but those ennui-rattled men of whom the tale speaks.
Dominic Toretto is a hard man, a hulking brute ill-suited to the life of comfort he has arranged for himself on the soaring cliffsides above the turquoise waters of the Canary Islands. Most agree that he arose from a hardscrabble life out West, and nothing in his uncouth manners would put lie to that, though the fetid bursts of whispered gossip that cling to his person like a flurry of arrest warrants struggle to elucidate his life beyond that. Some insist that he exhibited a certain wretched athleticism as a racer of illegally souped-up automobiles in illicit street races in the untamed wilds of Los Angeles; others that he was a mastermind robber of banks amongst the glittering metropolises of South America. The extremes of such fantasies, appealing to a low sort of imagination, I suppose, illustrate the scope of the mystery Toretto holds for some, even if we consider the impossibility that both extremes could hold even a soupçon of truth.
It seems a vast certainty to me, however, that a man of Toretto’s infamy could not long take his ease before the lure of criminal labors along the parlous edges of civilized society would tempt him again. His weaknesses would barely seem to require additional inducement, and yet here is such in the form of Letty Ortiz, a secretly fragile girl who subsumes her feminine vulnerability beneath a carapace of willfully extruded insouciance, a butterfly who has retreated back into her pupa at the injustices of a society deaf to the particular needs of women. Toretto loved her once, or so it’s put about, and there was an understanding between them. Or perhaps not, for Letty abandoned Toretto only to resurface now, a dolphin rising above the deceptive calm of the sea striving for air and sun, in the company of one Owen Shaw, though succor will not be hers to find.
“Toretto? What Toretto?” Letty might well cry, for the smothering embrace of life with men such as these has induced in her a form of protective amnesia, lest she drown in the wash of their accumulated villainy. For Shaw is an even darker shadow of Toretto, a man who haunts the capitals of Europe seeking power of the vilest sort, his terrible crimes thus far but a means to accreting a terrorizing might with which he aims to, dare I say it, rule the world.
Thus is a chessboard of masculine battle set, a competition between two men of the most unpleasant sort for the heart of desperate girl not so foolish as she might wish to be, as any girl might wish to be when the likes of a Toretto and a Shaw vie for her soul.
It is a folly of our era that such men are able to give voice to their most natural and expected of human longings only through excess. Mute with their own powerlessness of feeling, Toretto and Shaw bestir themselves to communicate through the shiny vapid coldness of vehicular warfare, a battlefield of confused desires expressed on a canvas of metallic carnage overlain with the choking stench of exploding petrol. Suppressed rage and denial of childlike fear bursts out of damaged men automotively, fecklessly absent of any concern for the countless anonymous wounded they leave behind. And yet they find a philosophy in the externalization of their inner violence: “Show me how you drive, and I’ll show you who you are,” Toretto promises the hapless Letty. The Kaiser would surely approve of such tactics, but what sensate witness?
It is another folly of the era to raise one’s voice in opposition to such men or tales of them, for they feed the unfathomable emptiness that afflicts the masses, the sundering voiceless fury that knows not whether to embrace or reject the annealing of our collective conscience to furthering iniquity and knows only to howl at it. “Is that legal?” one representative of entrenched law enforcement inquires, prompted by an act of his fellow that would once have been seen as unquestionably in the demesne of the scoundrel yet now serves only as a cynically humorous reminder of a lost idealism.
We few may beat on, boats against the current, but we will drown in it all the same.
• The Fast and the Furious and 2 Fast 2 Furious (review)
• The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift (review)
• Fast & Furious (review)
• Fast Five (aka Fast and Furious 5: Rio Heist) (review)
• Fast & Furious 7 (aka Furious 7) movie review: head-on vehicular hard-on
• Fast & Furious 8 (aka The Fate of the Furious) movie review: notes from the critics’ ward
• Fast & Furious: Hobbs & Shaw movie review: everything wrong with the world today