The Fast and the Furious, the flaccid 2001 Point Break ripoff directed, sort of, by Rob Cohen (with hot rod street racing taking the place of surfing in the Bigelow film; and why don’t I know of more movies that just copy Point Break but with a different minority sport? Where is the Point Break of Ultimate Frisbee, or LARPing? You can have those for free, Hollywood, you’re welcome) was mainly notable for gravely miscalculating the magnitude of Paul Walker’s screen charisma. About the only thing to be said for it was that it handily bettered Dominic Sena’s flashier, pricier petrolhead actioner of the previous year, Gone in 60 Seconds (the honey-toned Bruckheimer A-pic to TF&TF’s scrappy B), which could not even be saved by the inclusion of Vinnie Jones playing a man called “Sphinx”.
It had to happen eventually. Hollywood, or more accurately the half-dozen or so studios that make up the majority of its output, has seemingly realized that there might, just might, be more to life than turning every comic book that’s ever been doodled into a vacuous, overwrought blockbuster. The sixth installment of the Fast & Furious franchise is out this week. It will be a vacuous, overwrought blockbuster, too – but the right kind. And it could represent the rebirth of action cinema.
I say ‘could’, because it needs to make a giant pile of money first – and that’s why you need to go and watch it. Don’t go begrudgingly, though. If it’s anything like its predecessor, it promises to be an awesome, hair-raising mixture of preposterous car stunts, oiled muscly bodies and random bouts of artillery fire. And for some of us, that’s what cinema is all about.