Monday, May 20, 2013

The Evolution of Fast and Furious

The new Fast and Furious movie is coming out on May 24th, and so in the spirit of the movie I wanted to talk about the evolution of franchise.

When the first movie came out I was in college and was swamped with homework, trying to balance a social life, etc. I knew vaguely of the movie but that was about it. It wasn't until the movie came out on DVD that I saw it and was intrigued by its portrayal (however unrealistic) of the tuner world. I had experience modifying cars and was adding onto my car at the time, so that made the movie that much more interesting to me. Of course the cars in the movie looked pretty ridiculous, but that was a thing among some tuners at the time (kind of like with donks now). Some of those zany looks were a way to ruffle people's feathers and for the tuners to thumb their nose at them. And of course the scene where the Supra "smokes" the Ferrari further infuriated many automotive purists that solemnly and foolishly believed a Ferrari would win any race by virtue of the prancing pony slapped on it.

That first movie inspired many, many poser racer bois to start slapping huge aluminum wings and coffee can exhausts onto the economy car that used to be mommy's. In a lot of ways it cheapened the tuning scene. This cheapening, I feel, became even worse with the completely cartoonish and disappointing second movie, 2 Fast 2 Furious, which I unfortunately saw on opening night (complete with a Supra car show in the parking lot). Anyone who had a modified car that was not a Corvette or better came under quite a bit of fire from all over the place. We were the cause of idiots who raced on busy city streets, we were the source of the stolen car parts market (never mind that the market existed before the movies), cops tailgated you on the road for no reason and so forth.

Then my project car was totaled out by some complete idiot driver, plus I was married and had a kid. So I stopped really playing with cars out of necessity. The third Fast and Furious movie came out, Tokyo Drift, and I didn't see that one until it came out on DVD. Honestly it was an improvement on the horrible second movie, but like the two previous movies it still leaned heavily toward tuner cars or "ricers" as some people are fond of calling them. The series introduced the world to the drifting movement, which then inspired all kinds of idiot kids trying to drift on roads or in busy public parking lots which of course often ended badly (just like in the movie).

It wasn't until the fourth movie that the franchise took an interesting turn. Sure there were some tuner cars in it, but instead of just one or two American muscle cars there were several. Why nobody tapped into the muscle car scene before baffles me. The new movie brought a different dimension to the series, and it was a huge success. The fifth movie built on that momentum, plus introduced some exotic vehicles (like the Koenigsegg CC) to make even more people feel included.

So the series has evolved quite a bit. The one major scene or segment I feel hasn't been truly represented is the European tuning market, specifically the Germans. It looks like the cars in the sixth movie will include some British speed demons, but why aren't there GTIs, a C63 AMG, M6 or even an S60R? There have been a few Euro vehicles in the series, but most of them have fared pathetically, like Jesse's Jetta in the first movie.

Maybe there will be a seventh movie (I think they're going to keep making them until Vin Diesel is behind the wheel of a Little Rascal). And maybe in the seventh movie we will finally see a bunch of German muscle cars. That would be fun. The evolution of the series has kept it going, because if in the fourth movie there were just a bunch of newer tuner cars with a rainbow of paint jobs I think that would have been the death of it all. So if anyone involved in the production of the Fast and Furious movies reads this, you should go for some German flavoring in the next movie; plenty of us would pay to see that.