Full disclosure upfront: I don’t hate the Fast franchise (I think that’s what you’re supposed to call it now, I don’t know, also it doesn’t matter.) I used to deride it and look down my snobbish film nose at it until one hungover Christmas Day I decided to watch all of them up until that point. That’s right, while others were working their way through, I dunno, The Affair or Broadchurch, I binge-watched the Ultimate Saga Of Ultimate Vroom Vroom. And I had a blast! Mostly because of the way it transformed from a fairly straight-ahead bro-y street racing franchise into a physics-mocking superhero movie series, but there was something endearing about the whole thing anyway, and directors like Justin Lin occasionally injected some genuine visual invention into it.
The funny thing is, as the series went on and the less seriously the movies took themselves, the more seriously Vin and some of his co-stars seemed to be taking it. Like the Fast franchise was this emotionally resonant, thematically rich through line in all of their — and our — lives. Instead of — well, you know:
A video dropped last night that is… Well, I’m not sure what it is. Suffice it to say we might have reached the high watermark when it comes to the discrepancy between what these movies actually are, and what the people behind them think they are.
I suppose the best thing for you to do is to just watch it first:
So, I mean — we all saw the same thing, right?
Okay, let’s walk through this, together, because I for one can’t tell which way is up after watching that.
It starts off innocuously enough, I suppose.
Vin’s here, and he’s waxing poetic as all members of his ancient temple have a wont to do:
‘I live my life a quarter mile at a time. And nothing else matters. For those ten seconds or less, I’m free.’
Nowt wrong with that, really. Audiences around the world flock to the Fast movies for spiritual guidance and zen koans as much as for V8 engines.
But then you start noticing that music, and a strange unease settles over the proceedings. This feels a bit…different.
And then, BOOM!
Vin Diesel, in a nondescript warehouse, is walking towards the camera, straight up eyeballing us and breaking the fourth wall, addressing the audience directly:
‘The OPEN ROAD can take you anywhere!’
What? Shit, how much weight is being given to those two words? This doesn’t feel like a trailer. If this was someone for whom we had just answered the door, that door would be getting slammed shut again real quick. And you know that fucker would now have his foot jammed in it, just to make sure that you sign the papers and go on the weekend retreat.
But the video continues and the music swells, and luckily our best friend shows up. Dwayne Johnson! We trust him, he’ll make everything okay, he’ll make the kidnap-y vibes go away! The most charming, charismatic man in the world!
Wait, what? No.
What is that pose? Why do I feel less at ease?
Then, before you can even get your head straight, the others show up. The other seasoned movie stars from this franchise. Veterans of show business. Slick professionals.
All looking like old friends who you haven’t seen in years, who just happen to want to tell you about this wonderful programme they all joined.
They remind you of all the good times.
And how important it is to stick together.
How everyone else is already with them. The whole world gets it.
Then they go for the jugular. ‘What about you?’
Cos you know this is all about the family. You’re part of that family. You wouldn’t desert the family now, would you?
Look who else is on board now!
Does that look like a person you want to piss off?
So what do you say? One last ride?
Come to the ranch retreat. Leave your phone at home.
One last ride.