Ben Adams, Peter Fenzel, Mark Lee, and Matthew Wrather overthink (Fast &) Furious 6.
Spoiler Alert for Fast & Furious 6 and the whole franchise.[audio:http://www.podtrac.com/pts/redirect.mp3/traffic.libsyn.com/mwrather/otip256.mp3]
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Folks who save money on car insurance sure are happy. How happy are they? Happier than Hobbits with Quad ATVs. (Cue banjos.)
Could you say that Shaw’s counterpoint code to Toretto’s one of ‘loyalty’ be said to be ‘pragmatism’?
That could be a good counterpoint to Dom’s code, but it isn’t what Shaw is talking about in his big “I’m the Evil Dom Toretto, but you kind of get where I’m coming from” speech.
Shaw doesn’t just want to “get the job done.” If he were a pragmatist, he wouldn’t need to use militarized F-1 race cars. None of the criminals in the Fast & the Furious franchise are pragmatic — going all the way back to Dom’s crew robbing the 18-wheelers in the first movie while they’re moving, rather than just waiting until they park.
Shaw wants to get the job done _flawlessly_. He says he wants to be _precise_ — I think bound up in the idea of “precision” are ideas of “excellence,” “complexity,” even “elegance.”
This is why he does the main thing that defines his character — which is replace people without a second thought when they are no longer of use to him. (Of course one of the weaknesses of the movie is Shaw doesn’t really show off his evil scheme or practice of being evil very clearly, but this is what he says over and over again.)
And then the point of the movie is that the people in your life who share special times with you — struggles, pains, joys, adventures, glory — are irreplaceable. They are so irreplaceable that you will go through Hell and London Traffic at 200 kph to personally carry them back — they are more important than even the military security of the entire world or ten billion dollars, which seems like distant afterthoughts.
Is it really more pragmatic for Shaw to get rid of a teammate and replace him/her as soon as that teammate shows signs of imperfection? Plans take time to execute, and good help is hard to find and takes time to train. Generally it would be more pragmatic to use cheaper help and get the job done dirty rather than use perfect help and get the job done Fast & Furious.
Sure, there’s an argument that Shaw’s approach “gets things done,” but so does everyone else’s approach.
I’d definitely say Shaw’s right “code word” is something we haven’t quite landed on yet, somewhere between “people must be perfect all the time,” and “people are worthless to me.”
I think there may not be a word for it. Partly because of the contradiction you identify: Either you’re a skilled artisan whose unique gifts are irreplaceable, or else your replaceable cog in a Henry Ford style assembly line.
The more I think about it, the more I wonder if the incoherence doesn’t have deeper roots in our contemporary economy and experience. Maybe I have to take a roundabout route to explain what I mean.
It’s commencement season, which is always a fun time to reflect on the disjunction between the hopeful, you can do anything messages undergirding a lot of our education system—or at least its marketing—and a crummy state of our actual job market, especially for those just entering it, due to short term as well as long term trends.
This is a disjunction that’s played out even more subtly for those of us have been grinding it out for a few years. We’ve already gone through moving home with her parents, unpaid internships, and the indignity of learning that the priceless professional skills we spent our educations acquiring suit us to be simply more replaceable cogs in the machine—even in the more upscale of the professions which traditionally are thought to be exempt from such things.
At the same time, there’s a countervailing trend – and this is not just a leisure time trend, but also extends to contemporary professional advice for job seekers – which urges everyone to establish their uniqueness, or “personal brand,” using every means available. The tedious and reprehensible success theater of Facebook, which turns us all into a one-man PR department for a one-man company, is perhaps the most visible but by no means the only example of this.
Never mind the means available to us are glib and unoriginal, or that the social connections forged by these means are less than skin deep; the practical upshot of this trend is that we will come to feel as though we have to invest a lot of time and effort into maintaining our own celebrity, however inconsequential that celebrity really is, and this has pernicious, insidious effects upon our ideas about ourselves.
I guess what I’m saying, now that I’ve rambled about it for a bit, is that Shaw is late capitalism. It’s incoherent, undirected, ruthless, unsentimental about traditional social structures and requires of its adherents extremes both of exaltation and debasement. Dom and his crew stand against Shaw as a kind of throwback to the guild system, a model of professional “family,” making, essentially, the claim that a virtuosically curated list of Tumblr reblogs is not a substitute for meaningful, consequential employment.
I was going to bring up Arrested Development after Pete mentioned his Fast and Furious marathon. I’m 13 episodes in. I shant say anything, so people can catch up. I’ve avoided Twitter just to be on the safe side. I shall finish on Monday. I will honor America with Arrested Development. Next week, I will have one million things to say.
As for the Fast and Furious films, I have no connection to them other than having the same name as the guy who wrote a few of them, including, I think, this one. I hope he did me and all the other Chris Morgans proud. And I hope The Rock did all the other Rock’s proud, including former WWF wrestler Man Mountain Rock.
Feel free to delete last comment, my img-tag got filtered out.
Dear Sirs, I believe this fine poster might be relevant to your interests:
It would totally watch this.
(FYI – only OTI staff can embed images, either in their comments or for those of others. Feature or a bug, depending on how much you like to see animated GIFs in comment sections in other websites.)
My entry for the next movie in a franchise named in the F and F convention is ‘The Fast and the Furyan!’ Riddick is drawn into scheme involving a vehicle race across the night time side of a planet, but some of the racers have an ulterior motive involving the hijacking of a caravan to steal some tech as the race passes through a city. It turns out the person who instigated the scheme is a not dead Kyra/Jack (now strangely going by the name Letty). Dame Judi saved her and mentors her to help planets rebuild after the downfall of the Necromongers, which is why they want the tech. Complications ensue when a rival gang tries to get it for selfish personal gain.
The song over the end credits is actually by 2Chainz – which is a funny coincidence in that Wrather seemed to be referencing this meme in talking about the title for Mark’s Terminator: Tokyo Drift idea.
Now that the furiverse exists, I have to ask: does the overthinking it staff believe that the chronicles of Riddick, wherein Riddick is born a furyan from planet furya is the ultimate destiny of man-unkind after the exploits of Dom et al? Or is the reliance on the word “fury” between the film series not related to vin diesel’s anti-hero? There is a drag race, essentially, during the prison escape in chronicles of Riddick, and both series are fundamentally about nostalgia and taking power in a world (or worlds) where none otherwise exists to filter down to diesel and crew.
Also, if my phone autocorrected more than I noticed, I apologize. It doesn’t like proper names.
Thank you for using “Furiverse”. I have no idea how come no-one on the podcast came up with that (or I might have missed it). It’s such a simple combination! It kinda drove me mad. A bit.
We came up with it – we just liked “Fastiverse” better.
I love the idea that the Furians are distant descendents of Dom Toretto. If Ludacris DCCXVI and Robo-Tyrese show up in the new Riddick, we’ll know for sure.
Mark who? Vin Diesel is the real owner of facebook.
I just started listening to the podcast, and I’m really looking forward to this one. But I have to write in immediately about the idea that Tokyo Drift is peripheral. In some respects, this is inarguable. But you could also argue that Tokyo Drift, and specifically the death of Han, is the glue that binds the franchise together. It is an odd fact that every movie since Tokyo Drift is a PREQUEL to Tokyo Drift, meaning that they all take place before 2006 (technically). The filmakers seemed to immediately regret the decision to kill him off, and so they set back the clock to a time where he was still alive. But this means that Han’s death is looming over everything. In each of the last three movies, Han talks about his desire to go to Tokyo. We know for a fact that when he does, he’s going to die. FINALLY, in this movie it happens, so the next movie will be all about avenging him. In a way, Tokyo Drift is the most IMPORTANT movie in the franchise.
Interesting conversation guys, but I wanted to know what you guys all thought about Hobbs, the Rock’s character. I think he’s fascinating – he is BASICALLY Team America: World Police, but if it’s satire, that’s pretty well buried. He seems to have unlimited authority and no accountability whatsoever. In the first movie he participates in the armed robbery of a Brazilian police station IN HIS GOVERNMENT-ISSUE HUMVEE. In this movie he holds a NATO commander at gunpoint and releases an international fugitive because he has a single hostage. He also replaces his entire staff with a bunch of criminals, and offers them all full pardons without consulting anybody at all. And most notably (to me) he beats the crap out of a suspect in order to get information out of him, right there in a London police station.
Hobbs, it seems to me, is a very post-9/11 character.
Here’s something I really want to write about for the site and haven’t gotten around to. The movie Face/Off came out in 1997. The setup for that movie is that they’ve caught a terrorist who has planted a bomb in Los Angeles, and it will blow up in 3 days. In order to get him to reveal the location, John Travolta undergoes extensive cosmetic surgery to look exactly like the terrorist’s brother (Nic Cage).
At no point in the movie does anyone suggest they should torture this person to get him to reveal the bomb’s location, and I bet that wouldn’t have occurred to many of the audience members either. In 1997, the idea of beating information out of a prisoner was simply not something that any protagonist would do. If you made the same movie today, you’d have to at least include an implication that they tried to torture him and didn’t get anywhere, before they go to Plan B.