I saw a weird screening of Fast Five at Austin’s Alamo Drafthouse Cinema last month, featuring a comedy troupe called Master Pancake who sit in the theater’s front row and mock the film — it’s basically like Mystery Science Theater 3000 performed live. The comics ripped Vin Diesel’s grunty performance, the crazily implausibly stunts, the gaping plot holes. Yet even after the film was comically eviscerated, I knew none of the quips and critiques would diminish my future enjoyment of watching the Fast & Furious franchise.
But you know what does diminish it? Utterly destroys it, actually?
Paul Walker dying in an absolutely horrific car crash.
Because it’s so awful. Because it’s so tragic and ironic. Because he was in a car — a muscled-out Porsche, not entirely unlike the high-performance luxury cars in the films. Because he wasn’t even killed on impact, like we silently hoped when hearing the news. The initial autopsy report says Walker was still alive when the vehicle became engulfed in flames.
And such fatalities are what happens, sometimes, when cars crash. More than 35,000 people in the U.S. die each year in car accidents.
The Fast & Furious franchise took an old-fashioned cinema action beat — the car chase — and created a flashy customized super-charged monster version of the trope: Illegal racing, Nitro boosts, insane speeds, empty streets, near misses, epic stunts. Lots of incredibly risky-looking driving, and our heroes almost always walk away unscathed. At one point during the Fast Five screening, the mockers noted that an over-the-top wall-busting fist-fight between The Rock and Vin Diesel resulted in neither character having a mark on them. That’s the brand. The F&F heroes can do just about anything, particularly behind the wheel of a car, and all will be okay.
As action-fantasy, that’s cool. It wasn’t wrong to make it. It’s not wrong to like it. READ FULL STORY