C'MON HOLLYWOOD: Why shooting the Fast Five sequels back-to-back is a bad idea
If Twitch is to be believed, FAST SIX and FAST SEVEN (or whatever you want to call them) will be shooting back-to-back next spring with Jason Statham in talks to join the cast. Not one to bury the lede, I'll just tell you straight up - this idea sucks.
Put the pitchforks and torches down for just a second - I'm a staunch advocate of FAST FIVE. To the occasional bewildered look of friends and colleagues, I espouse the sheer joy of all that is FAST FIVE at any chance I get. I went on a semi-insane rant about FAST FIVE on the JoBlo Podcast about how it does all the things right a movie like THOR gets all wrong.
I'm gonna put it out there; if you like it, you can take it, if you don't, send it right back: FAST FIVE was the tits. Let's just be real about it. It got so many things right that so many other movies fail to even come close to grasping. It's stupid without being dumb. It's ridiculous without being preposterous. But most of all, it's just fucking fun In a summer when way too many movies somehow forgot this key element of, you know, actually enjoying movies, FAST FIVE served up heaping platefuls and let you come back for seconds. And this is coming from a guy who has never seen another FAST/FURIOUS movie!
It may seem strange that I'm taking such a strong stance on a franchise after only seeing one installment, but really FAST FIVE was a franchise reboot and I'm just coming in fresh here. I'm not really sure where this world was but I like where it's going. At least I did.
The idea of shooting back-to-back sequels may be a smart move financially for Universal - they lock the cast and crew down for two sequels for a packaged rate while budgeting less for one giant movie than they would for two big movies - creatively it stinks of disaster.
FAST FIVE set new creative highs for the franchise, one that could be continued through another new trilogy. But what made FAST FIVE work is completely contradicted by the idea of shooting back-to-back sequels. FAST FIVE worked because of one simple conceit: it never took itself too seriously. The very idea of back-to-back sequels - an idea too big for one movie! - you're already admitting you're going bigger
The FAST/FURIOUS franchise has a lot of potential but THE MATRIX this is not. There isn't a lot of need for exposition about the past of Vin Diesel's character who's name I can barely remember (Something Toretto, right?). I mean, the scene where Vin Diesel is reminiscing with Paul Walker about his dad is so bad it's good and that' just about all I need.
My biggest fear is that FASTs SIX and SEVEN turn out like some cinematic "Use Your Illusion." If you're too young to remember the now-20-years-old Guns N' Roses double album, a quick history. "Appetite for Destruction" came out in 1987 and despite what you might remember, was not an overnight success. In fact, "Welcome to the Jungle" wasn't even the debut single (the equally impressive "It's So Easy" was released four months earlier). But when it hit, it hit fucking hard.
At the time, "heavy metal" was clogged with pop glam bands like Bon Jovi, Poison and Cinderella. They all propped a certain attitude but you could tell a good deal of it was an act. GNR hit a chord because they weren't fake. They were equal parts raw, dirty, scary, gritty, badass and fun to listen to in a way that few other bands were. But as "Appetite" became an unexpected critical darling, Axl Rose and the other members of the band began drinking their own Kool Aid. And four years after "Appetite" they released "Use Your Illusion," a bloated, indulgent double album. And this, I fear, is the fate of FAST SIXSEVEN.
Just a few years after they were scaring the shit out of parents with their music videos, they were suddenly riding on dolphins (this is true, watch the "Estranged" video). There was suddenly the need and desire to go bigger, make grand statements and be about something other than heroin use and getting drunk. But what they never realized is that was what we liked about them. We had enough rock bands with big hair who thought they were really important. The best moments on the "Use Your Illusion" discs are the ones that are most like "Appetite" ("Back Off Bitch," "Garden of Eden" and "Get Into the Ring" among them).
FAST SIXSEVEN stand to lose all the good will they built up with FAST FIVE by going epic with their sequels because it's completely unnecessary. When has back-to-back sequels ever worked? THE MATRIX? PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN? LORD OF THE RINGS is the exception to this rule but let's not to pretend that FAST SIX and THE TWO TOWERS have anything in common.
It's perhaps a leap in logic to assume that just because they're filming back-to-back sequels that the film will be an indulgent mess but history is on my side. And the potential casting of Jason Statham seems to indicate they're looking to pack this film up with even more bald-headed action stars. This isn't another EXPENDABLES movie - the film does just fine with Vin vs. The Rock with Eva Mendes brought in for some added color. Do we need Statham just because the film is going to Europe?
It's only because I love the possibilities of the new FAST FIVE franchise so much that I worry about it getting bungled. It's good to know that the creative team is returning - including director Justin Lin who passed on the TERMINATOR sequel for these films - and I hope they'll have the temerity to pull this off and avoid the obvious pitfalls. Godspeed to the FAST SIXSEVEN team that they do this right.
Am I wrong? Am I getting my panties in a twist over spilled milk?