That reminds me that in my first post about it, someone asked what the appeal of these movies is that they can make so many of them. I joked, "The romance, clearly." Turns out: not as much of a joke as I assumed.
But to start from the beginning:
2 Fast 2 Furious (2003)
I was super disappointed in movie #2, whose best quality was either its ludicrous title or the Ludacris 'fro. I mean, I tolerated it for those reasons as well as Brian and his hair, but 95% of the heart & soul a.k.a. appeal of the first movie got ripped out along with the Torettos.
Tokyo Drift (2006)
An exercise in nonsense/excuse to show all the bright and shiny lights of Japan. It was very much like the boy version of a Bring It On or Mean Girls sequel it looked like: using younger/lesser known actors to remix the same basic recipe from a popular movie to produce an off-brand version for fast cash. It took me 5 nights to finish. I was def. in a grudge match by this point. I am very stubborn.
Fast and Furious (2009) (I remember people mocking this title and joining in, even when I barely knew it was a franchise.)
But then movie 4 happened, and I nearly wept for joy at how fast the heart & soul came rushing back. Five minutes in and I was already happier than during the previous two movies combined. I would talk more about it, but it ended on a cliffhanger and I happened to have checked out movie 5 in anticipation of this fact (which picks up at basically the same second), so I watched them back to back and OH MY GOD THE AMOUNT I LOVE MOVIE #5 IS RIDICULOUS. Let me talk about it in intensely unnecessary detail.
Fast Five (2011)
* It's set in Rio, and I'm pretty sure that setting things in Rio automatically makes them interesting, based on those 2 episodes of Zoo and the season 5 premiere of CSI: Miami, both of which used a lot of the same elements. It's not even that I love it solely because it is a giant festival of Brian/Mia, although that is a huge draw. It makes all the previous movies worth it, because it brings back pretty much every important character ever, causing me to retroactively feel much more favorable toward movie 2 & 3. Well, mostly the former, but...
* ...I am really glad they recognized the potential in that attractive Asian-American character's face and decided to bring him back twice, because amidst all the bland and forgettable people in Tokyo Drift, he instantly stood out to me/is pretty much the only reason I stuck it out to the end. He is so great in movie 5! I also love that he gets to snap up the hot exotic beauty that Dominic passed on.
* I had zero time to be upset about Letty's murder, mostly because I knew it wasn't going to stick, but I thought they spooled out the rage/grief/revenge arc very well in movie 4, and stitched it up beautifully with the new love interest/latest outsider acquisition to the exiled street gang family in #5. So much so that I don't really have room in my heart for Letty to come back, despite how important I know she is. I've moved on! It was a tragedy we lost her but they found the only possible way for me to understand moving on in less than a year and I want to keep the Brazilian cop lady in the family.
I mean, it started with him shielding her from a haze of bullets despite her ineffectually trying to arrest him. How could I not fall in love on the spot? And then he even got a chance to actively prove that he is mostly a gentle tiger and not the raging bloodthirsty mankiller her superiors are claiming him to be. That part where they're both survivors of close personal loss? Hang on, I'm paying out a ship jackpot here on the Hurt/Comfort Trifecta machine.
I feel like I need one more paragraph to give Elena Neves her due credit. I actually did like her on her own, long before I realized where she was going in the end of the film. Between her humorless response to being requested for her smile, her appreciation of the no-nonsense approach, her tragic backstory, her attempt to go by the book failing as she reailzes she is better at profiling than the obsessive bounty-hunter feds and is able to see the human beneath the rap sheet, and her sheer bravery when faced with situations that seem well above her pay grade, she is excellent.
* Also, The Rock is in this movie, apparently to make Vin Diesel look like the miniature version of a bodybuilder, and everything his character says, does or has a facial expression about is glorious. As is par for the course with Mr. Dwayne. I love that he, too, is (at least temporarily) drawn into the Toretto: Criminal With Heart Of Gold You Have to Respect circle by the end.
* Also on his team: David from Numb3rs. (erm: David the character, as played by Alimi Ballard, not Krumholtz)
* Until the very end, it felt like there was so much more plot/dialogue than usual and so much less "cars randomly zooming around and making a lot of noise." (Definitely made up for that at the end. How long was that chase scene, 10 minutes? 15?? How many millions of dollars' worth of property damage did they cause to the streets and businesses of Rio? Do not tell me they did not kill a single innocent bystander in their blatant disregard for anyone but themselves. I mean, I'm willing to screw over a thousand nameless people in order to give my street-thugs-with-a-heart-of-gold a happy ending, but I'm pretty sure they did not magically only kill corrupt cops and murderers during that wild ride).
* But for the most part, it was basically an Ocean's Eleven heist, and it was absolutely beautiful to behold.
* Honestly, the only thing I even found fault in at all was my momentary "wait why is Mia now a badass driver/highwayman like the rest of them. Why can't she just be an innocent bystander in this mess, willing to overlook it for love of the two men left in her family." And that was fleeting, disappearing with Mia as she zipped away across the desert in her shiny new toy.
thank you fanpop
(god I love ship banners. They're the one thing message boards do better than Tumblr or even LJ)
So, circling back to the heart and soul of this movie: I am really pleased by how quickly they moved into Eeh Babiez mode. Sure, knowing about this is the entire reason I started my quest to watch these movies, but I didn't actually know if it would happen before the final scene in #7, so it was a pleasant surprise to have it happen here. If there is one thing I love more than couples in dangerous settings, it's couples in dangerous settings where one member of said couple is pregnant. The only thing better than that is if said woman has not one but two super protective men looking out for her, specifically one motivated by romantic interest and the other for family reasons.
Brian spends a whole bunch of this movie cuddling up on her in Koala Cling mode and doing a lot of Gazing. That's not even counting their take on the usual tropes associated with Surprise But Welcome Pregnancy, including the "announcing the news" reaction and my favorite occasional bonus, "how do I be a good dad when I didn't have one" convo. Also this:
This is the single most important quality in a ship, including the one I'm a part of.
I also really enjoyed the part where they tell everyone else, both because of the excuse for extra PDA and because of how personally affronted and indignant Brian is that everyone concurs Dom let him win the million-dollar-wager race as a baby gift.
And THAT FINAL BEACH SCENE. How much gratuitous shipper service is that, I don't even know, but definitely the appropriate amount.
[edit: and the thing I find myself coming back to at the beginning: how weary they are at the beginning as they drive up to their destination, ravenous to the point of basically shoveling food in their mouths when they finally get a decent meal, and I wonder exactly how many weeks they've been on the run with cash running out, and if he regrets dragging her into this (even though of course she chose it on her own, and for all I know suggested it. That's usually the point where I spin out alternate scenarios where Dom never arrives, their contact isn't there and there is no multi-million dollar job, just a squalid life like this for what feels like eternity, trying to take care of a baby on top of everything]
Remember when I was worried about how I would tolerate the sad, shorn state of his hair? I find I'm so distracted by all the romance that I barely notice. That, and it's a look that works pretty well with scruff and the general dirtiness that comes from living your life on the run/being a bad boy with a heart of gold. I find I'm OK with this, which is good, as it looks poised to stay this way. It just means that whenever I look back at clips from the first movie, I am flooded with joy because I've forgotten how attractive the curls are. Plus, aww, they were just kids falling in love then, and look at them now. (I just found the deleted scene from the first movie that the first pic in the banner is from; I'm dead)
Anyway...my brain has been busy running with wild abandon over all the possible Damsel in Distress situations that could arise both in alternate versions of this film and in the future after the kid is born (I'm sure I'll eventually get around to the contrasting Heroine in Heroics options as well, but only after I have thoroughly exhausted this source because again, I've got two heros to work with).
That said, I couldn't resist sneaking a peek at some clips from subsequent movies, and it looks like they're gonna go right ahead and deliver on those fronts, so I am now all a-buzz with anticipation. While trying not to be too excited, because I gotta wait a week for the last movie to come in on request. Lucky I didn't get interested any earlier.
In the meantime, I have in no way exhausted the canon footage I've got. Shippy scenes are an endangered species on my TV planet, most of its habitat having been destroyed by work and/or evil TV execs, so every time I find a previously undiscovered population, it is like a baby panda bear being born. Ship delight for daaaaays.
Wait! I Almost Forgot To Go Back To Cover Movie Four
Top things that stood out to me:
- Michelle Rodriguez's v. small but v. effective scenes. Letty & Dom's chemistry is at least as much physical as it is emotional, but the sheer amount of history they have makes me very attached to their relationship
- the "oh shit" moment between a very dead Letty's name coming up as the incoming call on Brian's cell phone and the realization that Dominic Toretto is about to come charging in to kill him
- "SHE JUST WANTED YOU TO COME HOME." (and then we all go cry into our sleeves. those of us who have them)
- How ridiculous and uncomfortable Brian looks in a suit, like a dressed up dog
- I loved all the antagonism between Brian & Toretto, going at a shared goal in conflicting ways, and their gradual reconcilation until they were back to being Ride or Die buddies, but this time without a lie between them and subsquently finally reaching their full brothers-in-arms potential. Aside from the romance, this is p. much what I've been watching to see.
- I understood why Mia wasn't in the second movie, and I was prepared to bide my time, but I was pleasantly surprised by how they handled her first appropriately-bitter conversation with him after 5 years
- And then how they (apparently) got back together, which suffice to say started with him responding to her frustrated tears with a kiss, and YES HELLO THIS PARTICULAR COMBINATION INTERESTS ME GREATLY. *dreamy sigh* This franchise gets me