Monday Morning Quarterback Part I
By BOP Staff
May 2, 2011
Happy Birthday, The Rock!
Kim Hollis: Fast Five debuted to $86.2 million, easily the biggest opener of 2011 to date. It will become the #1 film of 2011 within two weeks of release. Yes, we finally have a bona fide blockbuster to talk about again. Why do you think this happened?
Edwin Davies: I was pretty shocked by this result initially since I expected the film to do well, but not as well as its predecessor. Thinking about it, though, I started to realise that this result makes more sense as the first sequel to a reboot, rather than the fourth sequel to the original. Fast & 4ious (as I dearly wish the last film had been titled) revitalised the franchise by bringing back all the key players from the first film and starting things off more or less anew. (I don't think the intricacy of the inter-film plotting is the key factor in the enduring popularity of this series.) In that regard, it was kind of the Bizarro Scream 4. The goodwill generated by the last film has clearly translated well for the new entry into the franchise, and I think that the $10 million+ increase is down to The Rock, who gives the film a credible antagonist for once, the fun heist plot and the fact that it's actually halfway decent.
Joshua Pasch: Like the rest of the world, I was blown away when Fast & Furious opened to $70 million a couple of years back. I had no idea that the Diesel/Walker/Brewster/Rodriguez re-infusion into the movies would net such an enormous revival for the franchise. This time around, it was a brilliant stroke to further the reunion factor by bringing in the various role players from the second and third films here. That decision kept things feeling fresh for another go. Moreover, the setup of Rock vs. Diesel is like an HBO prize fight. Also, this franchise is hardly about street racing at all anymore (there is only one actual street race in the film), but it has crossed over into the heist film category. This move will likely allow Universal to churn out another two or three of these by 2014.
I will also say, being a fan of these guilty pleasure flicks, that they are the only mainstream flicks that I can think of that cater to Latino audiences...even if its only on a surface level.
Bruce Hall: I think there are a number of things that work here, and it isn't entirely Paul Walker's monotonous delivery, or the way Vin Diesel looks like he can barely stay awake all the time. Both actors have failed to appear in previous installments and the overall popularity of the franchise has held steady. I don't claim to have all the answers but I do know that this highly formulaic series has already proven that even with interchangeable parts, the ride stays pretty much the same. These are now breezy heist flicks (I see Joshua beat me to the punch on that point, but surely great minds think alike), tailor made for the Grand Theft Auto generation. There's gobs of PG-13 "violence" that feels a lot more benign than it should. People die only if they're evil, or dramatically expendable. There's sexuality but it's all of the adolescent wink-wink variety. The bad guys are cartoons, and the good guys are flawed enough to be relatable, but generic enough to be replaceable.
Fast Five's story tries to be more personal and human but honestly, does anyone really care? Smirking, interchangeable heroes use an endless supply of fast cars, guns and explosives to do highly illegal things, but they get away with it because they're really good people inside. And if movies have taught us anything, it's that cops will forgive if you can prove you were just doing it for your family. The formula is the biggest thing this franchise has going for it. Formula worked for James Bond (for a while), it works for Grand Theft Auto (for now), and so far it works here. The tank will run dry some day but I have to say that for now, I'll keep going as long as they make these things.