What we get is an orgasmic festival of testosterone that hopefully has its just continuation
With the arrival of the new century, the action movie gods from the 80s and 90s fall from grace – names like John McTiernan and his problems with the law, or Renny Harlin, because he’d decided his time has passed. And with them, an entire genre who’d experienced moments of glory thanks to names like theirs or those of screenwriters Steven E. De Souza and Shane Black, to name but a few.
We owe them moments of real joy when many of us also liked to go to the movies to entertain ourselves, to watch John McClane tell Hans Gruber “Yippee-ki-yay, Motherfucker”. The same thing happened to those big stars – Stallone, Schwarzenegger, Bruce Willis himself – who saw how audiences’ tastes went in the opposite direction: the sequels, the franchises, the reboots …, all of which resulted from 21st century Hollywood’s lack of imagination and its banking on tried and tested values.
One of these is a franchise that began life as a tribute to the aesthetics of tuning for the enjoyment of homeboys and girls that, luckily, have turned out action movies that take the Bond model as their reference: really bad baddies hell bent on destroying the world, brimming with fantastic action scenes and strong emotions. That’s Fast & Furious.
In that context, the arrival of the two great stars of the current action cinema has proved decisive in imposing that almost nineteen eighty-scented labels: Dwayne Johnson, aka The Rock, and Brit Jason Statham. His overflowing charisma and his skill in the genre have allowed those responsible for the series of films to carry out a spin-off that was screaming out to be done, and that, once seen, there is no doubt that this is a wet-dream for action fans. Two antagonists who, however, have to join forces to fight the bad guy, here played by Idris Elba, who has long been in the running to become the new 007 -Bond Again-. The story revolves around the threat of a virus capable of destroying everything, the work of Chris Morgan, the scriptwriter of the saga since the third film, who rules out overcomplicating his life to get carried away by the personality of the two protagonists. Obviously, this is a Fast & Furious movie. And that means that there are cars and chases, and high technology. We wouldn’t have it any other way.
But at the same time it is a declaration of love for traditional action cinema, something another glorious franchise like John Wick has been calling for since its inception: the melee; the struggles that are pure choreographed wonder that give us the sense of authenticity, even though we all know that in cinema everything, or almost everything, is a lie. And if we add a strong female character like Vanessa Kirby to all this, whose has been an all-round success, the two special appearances and the buddy-cameos, which I refuse to reveal, and that pinch of that ever-present love of cinema, then what we get is an orgasmic festival of testosterone on tap that hopefully has its just continuation.
Blai Morell. Cinephil and critic. He works in Rac 1, QuèFem and Fotogramas.