or, SADDLE UP, CHILDREN, IT IS STORY TIME.
Side note: all numerical estimates in this post should be taken as "extremely inaccurate."
The Way Way Backstory
1) I have never had any interest in these movies in my entire life. Action movies strike me as pretty dumb at least 50% of the time, and this is one of them. It could not scream "BORING TESTOSTERONE-LADEN DUDE MOVIE" louder if it tried.
2) When I heard about Paul Walker's death, I did not have any particular feelings about it, beyond the fact that it sounded really tragic.
I was working on The Music List draft, and I was going to verbally punch out Wiz Khalifa's "See You Again" as an example of songs that lure me in with a pretty hook, only to BETRAY ME by turning me over to a burst of obnoxious rapping 2 bars later. It's tricked me 4893 times on the radio, and every time I have furiously stabbed the "change station" button within a second of hearing The Wiz, so I looked it up to make sure I was remembering the right song, and...oh hello. I did not know it was specifically written as a tribute to Walker. That changes things.
The first hit was the official music video, so I let it play, and was immediately arrested by all the beautiful footage that appeared to be from the Furious movies. And then I watched it 5 times in a row, all dislike of the music forgotten and thoroughly enamored with all the pretty lady/cute kid stuff I never knew about, on top of the intriguing Bro In Arms impression I got from Vin Diesel, a strangely heavy presence of hip-hop stars who are better at acting than music (WHAT ARE THESE FILMS EVEN ABOUT, I cried in bewilderment) + “Paul Walker is a much more attractive man than I remember giving him credit for,” and promptly decided I needed to watch all 700 of the 2 Fast 2 Furious films immediately (this is my favorite ridiculous sequel name ever, so I have taken to referring to the series as such).
Did it occur to me to just look up clips on YouTube? Naw, I like to assign myself difficult tasks. It makes me feel accomplished. (well, and I kind of felt like the Bros In Arms might be something you need complete context for.)
The First Movie Experience
And so, I have watched the first movie. OH MAN, IT IS RIDICULOUS AND KIND OF A SLOG YET WEIRDLY SATISFYING. I need to talk about it.
Is this the role Vin Diesel was born to play, or what? Such a good job of simultaneously being scary-as-hell violent and yet also loyal, fiercely protective of family (blood and otherwise), somehow managing to come across, overall, as a pretty quality guy. I see why Brian throws his lot in with him.
This also seems to be the role Michelle Rodriguez was born to play. So awful on Lost, so uninteresting to me in everything she's ever done since, but so perfect here.
CAN WE TALK ABOUT BRIAN O'CONNOR FOR AN HOUR, with the fabulous blue eyes and blonde hair sporting a magnificent 2001 boy band style of curl? (I am not looking forward to the one(s?) where he's sporting a short buzz cut)
He fits a very specific archetype that comes up in books where I cannot for the life of me understand why girls/women talk to them -- sometimes the text claims that they're nice or they hold genuine conversations, and I just handwave that with "but stereotypical dude. Casually dismiss without investigation" -- but this one's a real ruggedly good-looking charmer. You go, Mia. (who, incidentally, is darling)
And even though I mostly came for the promise of romance, I actually really liked watching him prove himself (over and over) and fit in as a member of that team. His comments about how that...one squirrelly kid, whatever his name is...should be at MIT were very endearing. Is this whole movie designed to overthrow my ingrained opinions about poorly educated people who flaunt the law to make their living??