Fast and Furious 9: political correctness | Photograph:
Anyone still interested in the Fast and Furious franchise gets what it deserves: another lesson from Vin Diesel on interracial partnership, another series of silly action scenes designed to defy death and the laws of physics.
That should be enough. “The Fast and the Furious 9” is the “Avengers: Ultimatum” of auto movies, starring Vin Diesel’s Iron Man against the Thanos-like villain of John Cena, who wants to destroy the world. It’s Dominic Toretto against his younger brother, Jakob, not quite a biblical Cain and Abel plot, but a reshuffle of the racial camaraderie between Diesel and the late Paul Walker that made the series charming 20 years ago. (More on this “friendship” later.) The dating message is harmless; What’s offensive is that the latest photocopy offered by Universal Studios denies moviegoers genuine and emotional involvement.
“The world has its way of changing, but we’ve changed too,” Dom told his multiracial team (and ticket payers) to start the family dispute in this latest iteration. “There are times that separate us, but we always end up together.” In terms of market computation, the union theme brings back to life Budweiser’s old TV commercial of sportsmanship and brotherhood.
But the turn advocated by Dom (and Universal) suggests an attempt at cultural conversion: the underlying sense of inevitable antagonism resulting from the false harmony of the Obama era. In terms of popular appeal, the Fast and Furious super team travels ever faster towards superficial and obvious demagoguery.
Genre franchises might be comfortably familiar, but the Fast and Furious series has reached the point where its raison d’être (the partnership between the good guys and the bad guys, the boys and the girls) is now disconnected from the way people relate socially, except in the minds of publishers.
While Diesel bet on the charm, Cena developed the plastic rigidity of a Frankenstein monster. The great antagonism between the older and younger siblings – based on flashbacks of childhood family tragedy – is ludicrous. (Shouldn’t the Toretto brothers be more like Super Mario Bros., Mario and Luigi at this point?) The movie about “family.” Jakob’s rage against world domination does not match the true racial antagonism the series initially worked for.
In 2001, Diesel’s mixed-race opportunist challenged Walker’s blond, blue-eyed cop; a class conflict typical of American streets that evolved into an argument based on the character of the characters, with Diesel and Walker developing as movie stars who knew how to act. Prior to the recent sexual revolution, their male friendship was not what gender ideologues now call “performative,” but expressive. “Fast and Furious 9” is content with a cartoon hero and villain.
The lingering violence and destruction of “The Fast and the Furious 9” hints at a relentless, hidden anger and dissatisfaction that only a fantasy action movie can unleash but never allay. This is the traditional “escape”, but now linked to Pavlovian commercialism, the “Saturday Night Fever” effect of providing an easy, routine and unimaginative stimulus. This is the specialty of the Fast and Furious franchise, adding some spectacular extremes (multiple explosions, car jokes, even a space joke). I liked the widescreen effect of a doll-sized Dom narrowly escaping an 18-wheeled mammoth, although director Justin Lin didn’t live up to the burlesque style of the film’s Chad Stahelski. John Wick series. But Dom’s escape playfully looks like a toy.
Director Lin makes exaggerated versions of car and motorcycle chases that, in ET’s latest sequel, for example, could be emotionally exciting. In the first Fast and Furious, the nightly chases were beautiful, like jukeboxes on wheels. “Fast and Furious 9” is the visual equivalent of white (and black and brown and yellow) noise.
“The Fast and the Furious 9” was an international hit (it debuted in China before the United States). The scale at which the Fast and Furious movies are shown internationally matches their simplicity and youthfulness. The last film in the saga is not just an escape; it is the pacification of the masses. If it’s the Hollywood idea of diversity and globalism, no thanks.