I really have to give the producers credit for how they have tuned this franchise. At some point, the formula will have to outlive Diesel like Bond had to survive after Connery. The fans won’t abandon the series but as with Bond, the constraints will get ever tighter. In the meanwhile, this is still evolving, getting more pure.
What I see is that the target audience for this is not 13 year old boys, but men who incubate a nostalgia for when they were 13. That bends everything.
The car chases, for example, are not designed for cinematic excitement as if we were in the cars. They are designed to mimic the way boys play with cars; heavy with crashing and public mayhem. It is why every situation is abstracted into a contest between car armies.
I believe this is why we don’t have that business about Fathers and remote sons working out issues. We see that in almost every kid-targeted movie. Instead, we have a similarly reduced value: loyalty to family, regardless of cost. Any cost.
Here, the supposedly lost family member doesn’t want to be rescued, in fact fights it. This reduction ends up giving us some very strange plot necessities: the girl friend who sends her man away for family is odd enough. But the new mother (the only real family in that world) who is willingly left alone, unprotected, was really something.
It is also why the women here are so unlike what we expect in a teen oriented movie. These aren’t the buxom, seductresses of teen fantasy. They are stereotypes that a middle aged guy will have grown.
- The woman in the family who turns out to have been cheating all along.
- The woman who needs to be rescued in spite of herself because of stubborn stupidity.
- The sexy beauty who will leave when you want.
- The compliant wife.
We do have some wiggling butts when a street race is starting, but that’s presented more as just part of the brand, as incidental as lacquer is to racing. Sex in this film has less to do with genitals than trust and shared adventure. You have to have been in a relationship for years for that to register, and be well past testosterone mania. Men control the machine, not the other way.
More nostalgic value is in the ‘dirty dozen’ gathering. We have teams now in many action films, but here there is an emphasis on the outlaw nature of the individuals. The dirty dozen trope goes as far as the phone calls after which everyone immediately gathers.
The stunts are tiring. The way the justifying story develops is proudly weak. But I find the engineering of the thing to be engaging as getout. It invents a new market for cinematic colour.
Posted in 2015
Ted’s Evaluation — 1 of 3: You can find something better to do with this part of your life.