Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Paul Walker has a stock ringtone

Introductory Maundering

I have already forgotten how exactly I stumbled over the Flophouse Podcast. But I did find it, and I have spent a lot of the last few days working my way through their capacious archives. What they do is watch a non-great movie, then talk about it, taping the while, and unleashing a podcast of that talk. Which is to say that what they do is damn' reminiscent of some classic Reviewieran goings-on. The podcast reminds me so intensely of hanging out w/ Tinzeroes--and, often, Greggums & Pierre Idiot Trudeau and others--that I almost can't listen to it, because it makes me wish for those old, old days of B3, or Giant Turtle Patrol, or whatever else we felt like calling it when we'd say "Kiss my ass" to the outside world, grab a sixpack of tallboys, and watch somebody's failure. (I have a half memory that we once perpetrated a double feature of Alone in the Dark and Badlands. This may not have happened. I drink. And that explains at least some of what you will encounter below.)

Not all of it, though. Not all of it. I curled up with my fictional housecat and fired up the ol'd DVD player.

Fat Sits Through Fast & Furious

It begins! Let us have some kind of highway heist, yes? Yes.

Michelle Rodriguez & Vin Diesel share what had to be a world-class awkward kiss.

To-be-heisted driver is, whilst driving, reading a magazine & sharing a candy bar w/ an iguana...he's armed! The driver. The iguana is not in fact armed. (So far, he's much much better than anybody from Ghost Road Black Dog.)

M-Ro appears to be wearing something from the Resident Evil collection...

Abe the Professor: Hey man don't go judging so fast.

Fat: I AM FURIOUS.

Pierre Idiot Trudeau: Fast Five is like The Italian Job, but entertaining. Though...I did see it on a Mexican bus.

...

Many minutes pass. Paul Walker's in a footrace in downtown L.A. The only part of this that bears any resemblance to physical reality is the commitment to product placement.

Walker explains some plot to his skeptical boss & Rushmore's girlfriend, who is smirky. She is really not great at walking. The hell. I have no idea what's going on.

Back to Vin: somebody's been murdered. Time for a little funeral montage.

Apparently M-Ro's too expensive, as she is No Longer With Us. Vin's making out w/ a car or something & hanging out w/ some cheaper model of M-Ro; no particular distinguishing features. PW discovers M-Ro's death; Vin visits the crash site and I suspect the two threads are about to intertwine--PERMANENTLY.

Vin is a crash whisperer: he can somehow sense that M-Ro was shot after the crash, not killed in it. I'm buying this.

JESUS FUCKING CHRIST CAN I GET A CHASE SCENE PLEASE?

Vin knows he's a fugitive from like...all the countries. He's been told there are stakeouts. His low-pro move is to hang out exclusively w/ known associates & relatives while driving a bright red muscle car. He is currently having a long heart-to-heart with a relative in front of her house in her car. He just pulled a U-turn. He is, also, the size of a double-wide trailer. I feel that he would not be difficult to find.

Now he is assaulting figures in the scene. (The, you know, underground cars-working-on scene. It's a pretty well-regarded scene, from what I can tell.)

Oh. Apparently the non-descript chick is Vin's sister & Walker's ex-betty. She plants a seed: MAYBE HE'S NOT A COOL GUY MAYBE VIN DIESEL IS A COOL GUY.

Food for thought there.

Walker & Vin have a quick mo'. Vin is gonna kill the big bad; Paul wants to catch him. This is quite a conflict. Paul kicks the shit out out of one of his fed buddies for no reason I can fathom. (Oh, Vin demonstrates his commitment to killingering in fine PG-13 fashion by dropping a dude out of a window. Guy doesn't die, due to extremely plausible catching-pant-leg-on-drain-pipe shenanigans. So far, 31.58 in, we have had one car chase and two out-the-window scenes WHAT FRESH HELL IS THIS?)

Car-working-on montage. Vin's alone; Walker's a team man, w/ a 'standard-issue tracking device' installed.

Vin & Paul are gonna race to get a job working for the big bad. Vin's pulling rank. Unclear whether or not anybody recognizes him--but wasn't he like Lord of the Roads!? Bow to Road Lord, you busters! ("Busters" is Fast/Furious-world slang for...person like Paul Walker. I assume that it's at least as reliable a "say-this-and-get-punched-in-the-nose" epithet as "motherfucker".)

A computer is now assigning the directions. These are some of the most emotional line readings we've had in the film to this point. 38.25; finally we get some driving of cars. Which is immediately undersold by representing it Tron-style as colored lines on a computer screen. You know, like in Bullit and Blues Brothers--when you want a truly riveting chase scene, what you want to throw in to the mix is a solid dose of abstract representation.

Beardo & Black Guy the first casualties.

Really unsure about this GPS thing. Not like this is Drive or anything--thank fucking hell--, but is not some of the point of fast-drive smugglerizing for a driver to know where they're going? I mean, it's not helping the audience any either, being buffeted by "turn left now" (car turns left) and "turn right now" (car turns right) with no idea whatsoever where the damn'd cars are supposed to be going.

Other Black Dude now down.

Vin wins the race. Vin gets the lady. GPS explained--easy narrative way for the big bad to remain faceless WHAT IF IT'S A LADY IT COULD EVEN BE A LADY WE'VE ALREADY MET MAYBE EVEN ONE WE MAYBE THINK IS DEAD OR A COP OR AN UNDERWORLD FIGURE.

Underworld montage. Walker is now planting evidence on people. Given this plus the two on-screen conversations about his criminality we've endured thus far, I'm sorta starting to wonder...maybe Paul Walker isn't a cool dude.

Apparently there's a pretty clear hierarchy about these smuggling driver ring things: one guy goes down, Walker is in. This succession act makes more sense than the U.S. gov't's.

Some unleavened exposition. The cat & I are essentially unimpressed. Little more underworld montaging. Big Bad unlikely to be a lady. Dude Vin dropped out the window is in the club. Think this is bad, as I seem to remember Vin mentioning in front of him 'I am going to kill the Big Bad'.

Vin is now attempting to seduce a vaguely ethnically indeterminate lady. He has rejected her. That will show her. VIN DIESEL HOLDS NO TRUCK WITH THE OCCUPATION OF PALESTINE, MISSY.

Chase scene! Made no sense. Tunnels there are, apparently, linking Mexico to the U.S.

Vin has found the henchjerk who killed M-Ro.

Vin blew up his own car as a sort of don't-think-about-this-too-hard ambush, then I think beat the henchjerk to death. (He basically turned his car into a time bomb, then had a conversation which ended at the exact right time for the bomb to go the fuck off at a very appropriate moment with excellent comedic timing.) Walker saves Vin! Not sure why. Walker is now not turning over the drugs they seized--and (a) checked in to a police impound lot to stash the vehicle with the drugs--"where they'll never think to look", & (b) did so w/ a badge he had on him, & (c) just stole a car from that lot.

 

All of that seems problematic to me.

 

Let's think it through. He's undercover but carrying his badge. I would worry about that. He has checked into a police impound lot. I would assume they probably...write down somewhere who comes into these lots when--and maybe what they dropped off. And probably I'd guess they don't like it when double-wide-trailer-sized Vin Diesel-looking guys smash a window and steal a car. Anywho. Let's bracket this.

Vin's having a moment w/ a scrapbook abt M-Ro. Walker is worried that maybe nothing matters b/c he doesn't have a code. Nondescripta blinks. The nation joins her. Not sure she has any lines, actually...I kinda doze off when she's onscreen.

 

Vin is kicking the shit out of Walker. The nation cheers. Obligatory bad MMA, as Walker decides the way to defend himself is with an...arm bar. Movie teases Vin picking up Walker and dropping him on his head repeatedly. The nation holds the nation's breath. They stop fighting to talk. The nation mutters "Aw fuck." Walker was using M-Ro to infiltrate the big bad; prolly why she's dead; she was working w/ the Feds to clear Vin's name. Vin's not forgivish. I genuinely cannot parse the morality here.

 

Plan comes together. A person says 'Stay frosty, don't move a muscle'. Henchjerk was beaten up, not to death, as he is back. Big bad shows up, has a strong vibe of Most Interesting Man in the World. The nation yawns. --Guy Walker beat up makes a bad plot-enhancing decision, is probably a bad guy; predictably, the Big Bad is somebody we've known about all along BUT I'M NOT SAYING WHO.

The plan that came together falls apart in a brief and dull scene.

An unfathomably dull scene follows. Vin grieves, probably for what little narrative momentum this thing ever had.

Walker shows up, points out to Vin that maybe it's a bad idea for an on-the-run guy to be at his sister's house. This point is shrugged off quickly.

Vin & Walker decide to pull one last job--a job from which THERE IS NO COMING BACK. Oddly suicidal vibe here: maybe this scene was filmed after the test screenings hinted at the strength of the franchise going forward?

Sex and death continue to mingle as Walker PG-13ly fucks Nondescripta on the kitchen counter. She hugs her brother, and the boys head for the border. This literally all happens in the same night. Everything since the scrapbook has been the same night...

I forget where the cars came from. But the boys have appropriate and attractive automobiles.

Ethnic lady hands the big bad to Vin. I fucking knew telling her he wasn't interested in her was gonna pay off. Nicely done, Mr. Diesel. And no--I wasn't surprised.

We are in Mexico. It's fucking hella sepia up in Mexico, if you didn't know. Also Catholic--big bad just paid a priest for a blessing. Is there no depth to which he will not sink? I mean...heroin smuggling? That is one thing. But indulgences are plain and simply fucked. Vin just ambushed the big bad and sneered 'You're not forgiven.' Big bad comes up with 'You and me, hermano...we're not so different.' This script is surging with excellence.

Low, low, LOW-grade plot twist.

1:28:00--car chase. Henchjerk chases Walker. Vin's on the scene. Muscle cars are apparently excellent for bitchin' off-road action. Still hella sepia. Vin has a shotgun. It has some intriguing relationships with physical reality, in that when it shoots downward at a tire, the car attached to that tire flies up into the air and generally lands on its roof.

I'm into it.

Driver yells 'Come on!' while driving for about the eighth time. The chase scene is the same as the last one. :(

Henchjerk & his widehawk are about to fuck up some Paul Walker, who is such a shitty driver he has caused his car to be upside down. This orientation--this mis-orientation--has completely compromised his vehicle's fast and or furious properties.

Vin is being shot at. He responds by ensuring that the bullets hit the impregnable undercarriage of his totipotent vehicle. Definitely a good place for the bullets to go, I'd say. I know very, very much about how cars work. This is about the fifth 'my car can do a wheelie' moment. I used to be pretty good at poppin' wheelies on my Schwinn. Vin notes that the henchjerk is a 'pussy'. Seems reasonable. Henchjerk in fact had a widehawk. So, you know: math checks out.

 

Credits mention 'action', 'driving', and 'car play'. For the first time, I am uncomfortable. But hey: I did make it all the way to the credits! Car play. Gross.

Summing Up

According to the director's commentary:
(a) "I really love sequels"
(b) this is the fourth movie in the series--not the Fast Five Pierre Idiot Trudeau mentioned above (I honestly didn't know)
(c) the purpose of the first scene--the truck heist--is to make us care about the characters.

Only one of those characters is actually still in the movie after the 10-minute mark.

The oil derricks in the film represent Michele Rodriguez. The director said that out loud. I have it on tape, if you want to hear it.

Apparently there was a sequel. I'm as surprised as you are. Vin, in all seriousness: you are better than this. Paul Walker: you are not. The gag reel consisted mostly of Paul Walker giggling at inopportune moments of filming. Nothing else to report at this time. Live long and prosper, everybody.

--Fat, for whom awful movies will never not be meat and drink

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