Hard Work Forever Pays

It is no secret – I love cars! (Just look at some of the people I follow over on FlickR!) I have always had a thing for cars! Beautiful, exotic cars with a roar coming from the engine! Therefore you do not need to be a mind reader to deduce I am a big big fan of The Fast & Furious movie franchise. Fourteen years ago I caught the first installment in my first year at university in Leicester. I went to see at the local Odeon around the corner from my Halls of Residence. I enjoyed the movie, but never thought it would be so popular to spawn five plus sequels. In fact, I only saw the second and third movies once I had the box-set for Christmas some five years later.

The fourth movie, the effective “main reboot” for the latest movie line I caught at home while working in Newbury. Again I wasn’t overly impressed but felt it was a movie I should really watch in the cinema to truly appreciate all the set pieces. The makers of the franchise, then made the best decision ever, to parachute in Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson as US Diplomatic Security Service agent Luke Hobbs to not only rescue the franchise but catapult it to new heights. All movies from the fifth, I have caught at Reading Vue with my dear friend Pav always 8pm and always the showing in our second home (screen four). (Do not ask me why, it has just worked out that way!).

The films bring out the petrol head in me with the insane set pieces – each movie building on the last. Fast Six perhaps was a clear favourite, being set in London with a crazy English villain Owen Shaw, played perfectly by Luke Evans. There was also the gorgeous Rita Ora kicking off the street race from Somerset House around the West End mid way through the movie. Probably the most dramatic part of this entire race is the fact that they were filming during the London Olympics and could only get permission to shoot two minutes of footage each hour and became only the third production (at time of blogging) to be granted permission to shoot at Piccadilly Circus. Now all Londoners know that that particular bottleneck can take over an hour to get through during peak time. Yet in the movie, they were screaming around in their cars without a care in the world. The power of movies!

Rita Ora

Anticipation for this latest film almost came to a sudden stop when I woke up one Sunday morning to be informed by my wife (reading the Daily Mail app in bed) that Paul Walker had died in a car crash. I was devastated. The news was confirmed on his official Twitter feed. (I had only started to follow Paul a few months prior to his passing).

While I had seen Paul’s performances in other movies, such as Timeline, I will forever associate him with the FF franchise and the boy next door element he brought to all those films. Michelle had actually met him with her class during the movie première of Eight Below and noted how down to earth and personable he was. As far departed from the aloof Hollywood mega-star as you can get. Over the course of the weeks after that fateful crash on 30th November, we got to hear stories of Paul’s heartfelt generosity. The future of the film franchise was also in doubt and production was put on hold while the cast and crew were given the time they needed to mourn the loss of their star. It was painful, even as somebody who did not know the man, but having watched so much of him on the big screen you begin to feel a connection. Many people may find a statement such as this fake and insincere, particularly with all the other things going on in the world, why am I focusing on the death of a privileged film star. I am just letting people know I understand fully the often repeated phrase – family.

I have been bugging Pav for weeks to book tickets. The film was released over Easter so I gave extra notice to ensure our cinema date did not clash with family plans. Luckily Saturday evening had a window and we booked tickets for peak time in screen four. We walked in a little late, with the adverts on and found our seats quickly. The trailers came on and then the latest installment could begin.

On my television I have the music video for See You Again playing in the background, as I write this post and I am overcome by so many feelings. Feelings I thought I had laid to rest many many years ago. The Fast & Furious franchise has been a big part of my life, I recall going to see the first movie like it was yesterday. Life as a student at university in Leicester, feels like a lifetime ago even if in reality it was only eleven years in the past. I wonder what that young man must think of the person I have become now. Well into my thirties and living perhaps a very different life to the one I had imagined. There is also the fact that I cannot go back to 2001 in the archives, I only started blogging in 2002.

While we wait for a full detailed review from the guys over at The Fast Cast I thought it would be good to give just my thoughts on the movie. In one word – epic – everything that we have known to love from the previous movies notched up several levels. There is also very little drop in pace, we move from one set piece to the next, with only a brief narrative to move the plot along. Roman Pearce provides excellent comic relief, as Luke Hobbs is unfortunately laid up for the majority of the film and has little more than an extended cameo. I had been disciplined to watch only two full trailers and not the most recent extended version which featured the stunts in Abu Dhabi. At the gym, I noticed a shot of Vin Diesel stopping himself being thrown out of the side of a skyscraper and wondered what will happen next. The true build up for me started in early March when I listened to the final “Fast Cast” from those great guys over at the Fast Cast blog.

Now I got back from Reading around midnight and had to find out much more about not just the latest movie but the entire franchise. I went straight to Buzz Feed and read multiple articles (at least three maybe four). Which I have listed below. Don’t Have Friends Got Family, Making FF7 without Paul Walker and Furious 7 Ending Paul Walker. Trust me to come home after a two hour plus movie and then spend over an hour reading about every little detail of the film. Suddenly it became very important for me to understand the dilemma of completing a movie with one of your main cast members no longer with us. The ending was a true tribute to the main man – Brian O’Conner. The movie studio had shown not only him but the audience the utmost respect. Rather than killing him off, he was dutifully retired from duty in a scene which brought a tear to my eye.

I have been listening to See You Again constantly since Sunday. Such a beautiful, powerful, stirring song, it easily evokes the memories of the past. I feel we all sometimes forget to live in the moment. Almost as soon as the moment has passed, we instantly begin to reminisce of the time gone by. Longing to hold onto the magic from the past, before it is lost forever. To then become just a flood of images in our memory banks. Maybe it is the melody played, so softly on the piano, maybe it is the high impact of the words. Difficult to explain in words, just sometimes a song comes along to capture the mood in tribute to a movie star gone, but also reflect back on your life and where you are at this exact moment.

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