Universal swapped its auto racing franchise and turned it into spies instead. And it worked.
When I was in 8th grade, the movie that blew my mind was the original Fast and Furious. It was about a police officer who infiltrated a street gang to find out who was transporting illegal goods through Los Angeles. The hot ticket item that was stolen? DVD player (including electronics). Well, we saw the trailer for last month F9 Debut with two characters driving a car into space with a rocket attached.
You have to ask yourself how did we get here?
I wasn’t the only one asking that question. The alarm clock There was a huge retrospective recently in which they followed the history of the franchise from then to now. Reading it was one of the best experiences of my life. I’m not joking.
After the first four films were fine at the box office, Universal saw what could be seen as a declining return on investment. They had reached the limit of their possibilities, mainly because the audience they were serving was still relatively niche. I mean, how many road racers do you know?
This fad largely subsided. And they needed a new option.
Enter Fast five, a $ 125 million dice roll, a studio betting that the characters they introduced and the obvious on-screen chemistry would result in a story unrelated to racing … and not even in the USA plays.
It was a bet that would pay off in large measure. I mean just sTarting with Fast fiveThe franchise has earned nearly $ 4.2 billion worldwide.
To lead this new creation, they brought in director Justin Lin, whose sleek visual style redesigned the franchise. They also folded the skirt for its action clout and really started prioritizing set pieces. The film opened after Dom’s prison bus was flipped and then gave us a great train set piece that really hit the film’s gas pedal.
Then it switched genre gear, from cops and robbers to a robbery. This enabled them to bring back the cast of characters we’d come to know and love from the other films. And the rest is history. The chemistry of this cast popped up and became the mainstay for where the franchise would go from here.
What has always struck me outside of gambling is how much the films focused back on the joy that audiences were supposed to experience. The first movie in the franchise was fun, but it had a dull and haughty moment that spanned four. Although the heart of this movie has always been “family,” it felt like they kept opening the funny bones more and more to make sure everyone got a chance to make the audience laugh.
But none of this came at the expense of real and grounded emotions. I mean, outside of the fun, we saw them lose Paul Walker, the de facto star of that franchise. Instead of ending, the other characters stepped up and gracefully copied him off. It was one of the most poignant and tearful Sendoffs in all of cinema history. It even had a perfect song on its nose to send him off.
These films are easy Sirki melodramas on steroids. And I love them because they lean on.
We often see these characters evoke great emotions through even bigger events. Babies are stolen, friends die, and people lose their cool. But the film does it all by putting it on the first street and letting the audience take care of it. Unlike a Bond who is reluctant or a Bourne who is learning to feel good again, these are just your average Joes doing the world a favor by showing up. They drink coronas and complain about money even though we’ve seen they make millions. And somehow they still have relationship problems.
These are the films that defined a generation. Effortlessly diverse, emotional men, strong female leads, loads of action … Hollywood is better for them. And I can’t wait to see where they go next.
Let me know what you think in the comments.