The Fast and the Furious

The Fast and the Furious (2001) movie poster

(2001) dir. Rob Cohen
viewed: 01/27/03

This film almost already seems anachronistic. If that’s possible.

Stylized with slick, flashy editing and a soundtrack with a pumping beat, The Fast and the Furious was a surprise hit at the box office when it came out two summers ago. The film is about street racing, another youth culture movement that is both clandestine and illegal. Featuring a contemporary slew of the “hottest” cars of the period (the period being 2001, already by pop culture standards something of an anachronism), this is a cultural product with a short hipness shelf-life.

The film is fast-paced, energetic, and pretty entertaining, but it’s also cliché and clumsy. Star Vin Diesel’s key speech about the death of his father is almost hilarious, though it’s intended to posit him as emotionally tender. But it’s one of those films in which its glitzy visual flash and it’s almost campy badness merge into a “guilty pleasure” level of badness.

In this sense, despite the fact of its overall low level of mediocrity, it seems like such a product of its time that it might be a classic symbol of this quickly dating contemporary pop culture. A typical film from 2001. Not a stunning example, but a good sample of what people were going to see at the turn of the century, featuring “hip” pop aesthetic and top-of-the-line special effects of the day.

There is something almost explicitly homoerotic in the male relationships in this film, perhaps not unlike many macho “guy” fantasies films in which male bonding is a key element of the represented culture. The film also strives to present a multi-ethnic cast, but does so in fairly stereotypical manner.

Speaking of anachronism, during the beginning of the directorial commentary track on the DVD, the 53 year old director, Rob Cohen, describes the look of the cars as “off the hook.” When a middle aged Hollywood director co-opts (or tries to co-opt) street culture and its slang that the whole thing has clearly become the unspeakably passé.

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