Karl Puschmann says:
The Fast and the Furious movies are not good. They're not. We all know that. But just because they're not good doesn't mean they're not great.
Because these really are great movies. Big, dumb, stuff-popcorn-in-your-face fun, each one delivering a high-gloss-yet-potent mix of adrenalin-pumping action, ridonkulous stuntwork and high-octane car chases. It's a formula designed to dazzle and daze. And it does. Superbly.
Sure, after 14 years the plot's a convoluted, continent-spanning mess of street-racing gangs, secret agents and organised crime but I stopped trying to follow what the hell was going on long ago. I just buckle up and enjoy the ride. Somehow it all makes sense at the time.
Besides, you don't want to think too much - if at all. That's not what these movies are about. We're not dealing with The Godfather trilogy here. The Fast and the Furious franchise is not art. It's turbo-charged action schlock that just keeps getting more and more audacious and outrageous.
The latest, Furious 7, has our chiselled heroes parachuting their rides out of a damn plane before driving off to hijack a truck tricked out with military grade weaponry, for crying out loud. What more do you want? What more could you want? I don't know, but you can bet they'll top this stunt in the already announced sequel, Fast 8.
We should all be eating broccoli and brussels sprouts but sometimes what you want is pizza. And that's what this franchise is: the pizza of the movie world. Bad for you, calorie-filled and cheesy as. And sometimes, just sometimes, that's exactly what you want.
* Karl Puschmann is a Herald entertainment columnist
Russell Baillie says:
Franchises aren't just terms for endless sequels, they are business models. It would appear the Fast and the Furious flicks have done the business. The previous six movies have made US$2.3 billion ($3 billion). Parts four, five and six actually increased their predecessors' box office take - 2013's Fast and Furious made US$788 million, while 2001's first one clocked up just US$207.3 worldwide.
But F&F is not the best franchise of all time. For one thing, this is because those first couple of movies didn't actually know they were in a franchise. They couldn't get it into gear.
Series star Vin Diesel didn't turn up for part two, possibly too ashamed to be a movie entitled 2 Fast 2 Furious. Part three had the whole thing shifted to Japan for The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift which starred nobody from the first two movies. Then part four rebranded and rebooted with no "the" in the title. On it went, going from its plausible street-racing world of the decent first movie to becoming a sort of nitrous-powered international A Team with Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson as a DEA agent helping bring it all back from the wrecker's yard for parts five onward.
Today comes part seven, complete with the final appearance of the late Paul Walker. That he died in a car crash before the filming on the latest film was finished will bring some poignancy for long-time fans.
But here's where F&F also fails on the greatest franchise front.
Franchise flicks are there to sell escapism. This one comes with an all-too-real reminder that awfully fast cars can lead to an awful quick death.
* Russell Baillie is the Herald's Entertainment and TimeOut Editor