Peter Fenzel and Matthew Wrather roar to the finish line of Family Week with this podcast on The Fate of the Furious, the latest entry in the Fastiverse. In talking about the film’s over-arching themes, we finally answer the age-old question: “Which matters more, the car or the driver?”
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First of all, I am very afraid that the Rock won’t be back after this (Pete alluded to that, although I don’t think any announcements have been made). His arc was almost the same as Paul Walker’s in the last movie (he leaves his family behind, almost gets killed/locked away forever, and then makes a new commitment to fatherhood). And there were a ton of rumors that the Rock and Vin really didn’t get along while making this movie. I noticed that they were almost never onscreen together (although to be honest, you could have shot this movie without Vin being physically present with the rest of the team, except for the very final rooftop bbq and a couple things with Letty).
So where do you think the movie comes down on the cars vs. drivers question? I’m inclined to say that the whole film is Dom realizing how wrong he was that “it doesn’t matter what’s under the hood.” Cypher shows him that he is bound by things like family, honor, instinct, etc. ‘Wouldn’t it be great if you could just be a driver?’ she seems to ask. ‘But you can’t, and that’s why I always win. Because you’re all engine and you don’t actually have the luxury of taking the wheel anymore.’ That’s not a new idea for this series. In Fast 6 there was this wonderful exchange: “One hostage does not outweigh the threat to millions. I’m sorry, but this changes nothing.” (The Rock cocks his gun.) “It changes everything.”
I’d even suggest that what really makes somebody part of the Family in this series is that they are all engine, no driver. Their code is so strong that the Rock will pull a gun on a military leader to get him to release a criminal with a deadly weapon, in order to save the wife and child of a dude he barely knows. Step back even further – when was the last time these guys got to pick their mission? They’re always fighting because they have no choice. They’re out to avenge someone, they’re being hunted by someone, etc. Even going back to the first film, it’s not like Dom WANTED to rob those trucks; that was his only card to play. They’re the world’s best drivers, but they aren’t in the drivers seat at all.
I read a long article (can’t remember where) about how bad the animosity between Vin Diesel and Dwayne Johnson was. All the scenes between them are done via phone ala The Good Wife’s feud between Julianna Margulies and Archie Panjabi. In one scene where both characters are in the same place, only one character is shown at a time with body doubles filling in the coverage.
Allegedly The Rock has subtweeted Diesel over his work ethic as well as claiming to be the reason for the resurgence of the franchise. Clearly the claims about family do not extend to the actual characters.
Also, the Washington Free Beacon has published their hot take on the definitive quality ranking of the movies. Your opinions may differ.
These guys are seriously working your side of the street. They have compiled all sorts of statistics on the entire F&F franchise including things like:
Race Time vs. Chase Time
Cast Star Power
Mentions of ‘Family’ or ‘ Team’
The last one in particular seems like a particularly egregious move onto your turf. Deal with it like Dom would.
The war dance The Rock and his Intramural Soccer Team perform is The Haka, often seen performed by the New Zealand national rugby team the All Blacks. There’s quite a few interesting things about it, but in terms of relating it to F&F, it’s a dance that they are allowed to perform at the beginning of matches that no other team (to my awareness) is allowed to replicate. Which leads me to ask: what is the dance or ceremonial hype-manning of themselves that The Family performs before each adventure that allows them to do what they do?
I want to say the traditional street races that open/precede each adventure prepare them spiritually, but perhaps it’s the banter?