Fast & Furious
I’m curious to know if incidents of street racing or at least traffic violations spike following the release of movies like Fast & Furious. Certainly the group of teens I screened this movie with was buzzing when the credits rolled. Whether it was from the nonstop action in the film or too many caffeinated beverages, it’s hard to say, but either way, I let the parking lot clear before I hit the roads.
It appears that the purpose of this flick is to get adrenaline pumping through the veins of viewers, particularly male audience members. If so, it likely succeeds. Scenes of souped up cars, reckless driving, prolonged shots of female posteriors, and erotic dancing along with lesbian kissing and fondling are stuffed onto the screen between bouts of fistfights and an intense rooftop chase.
However, lawbreaking activities aren’t confined to the street racers or drug dealers that squeal through crowded neighborhoods in Los Angeles or down a tiny roadway in a Mexican village. Police officer Brian O’Conner (Paul Walker), in an attempt to infiltrate a drug ring and bring it down, is just as quick to push the throttle during a street race initiation. When he fails to be chosen as a drug mule, he uses a police SWAT team to raid the home of one of the other drivers. After planting a package of illegal drugs in Dwight’s (Greg Cipes) apartment, Brian ensures himself a spot on the next drug transport trip while the unlucky driver is tied up in the judicial system for a while.
Teamed up with Brian for the cross border haul is his old nemesis, Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel), a criminal who wants to make his way into the cartel in order to inflict his own form of retribution on one of the drug runners (Laz Alonso).
The action that follows is aptly described as fast and furious. Drivers, prompted on by the voice in a GPS system, race through heavily populated downtown streets, narrow residential alleys and across sidewalks teeming with pedestrians. They accelerate through tight underground tunnels and speed through precarious mountain passes, breaking not only stacks of traffic rules but a whole book of physics’ laws as well. However, massive explosions and rounds of ammunition are detonated so rapidly that there is little time to mull over the script’s gaping leaps of logic. (A point that might not be important to many viewers anyway.)
To the producers’ credit, or possibly in response to advice from their legal council, the film does run a disclaimer, acknowledging that professional stunt drivers performed these highly dangerous feats on closed circuits. Unfortunately the rider comes on screen well after the closing credits begin running, when most patrons have left or lost interest.
What the filmmakers don’t show are any of the negative outcomes these drivers’ actions would surely have on the general public, i.e. accident reports, insurance claims, property damage, bodily injury or, more seriously, funerals following a hit-and-run incident.
While many may argue that Fast & Furious is only meant to be high-octane action entertainment, regrettably it feels more like irresponsible exploitation designed to take the audience for a ride.