Thursday, March 19, 2009

New Model. Original Parts.

In an amazing marketing move, Universal is selling the new "Fast & Furious" as the old "Fast & Furious" - no Roman numeral 4, no subtitle - not to fool us, though that may not be unintentional, but to remind us of what we think we like about the series.

Vin Diesel has always been the best thing in his films, but that depended in a way on the films being pretty bad. As soon as he moves too close to the camera or up the credit list ("XXX," "A Man Apart") his power diminishes proportionally. But I still remember "discovering" him in "Boiler Room" and "Pitch Black." He was on the sidelines, with more charisma in a look than Spielberg could pull out of Matt Damon with more screentime and 10x the budget.

While audiences may think the "F&F" franchise has drifted with Justin Lin's previous installment, the only thing is to go back and make what's old new again. It helped that Diesel is flirting with straight-to-video films now (an ignoble fate for the guy who stole the original "F&F" from a bunch of really cool car chases) and is exec-producing this one.

And in a telling detail, Lin directs again as well. It's not about who's behind the camera but who's in front of it. It won't matter if this is a remake of the original or a new plot taking place in Singapore (as IMDB would have you believe) or in London, as the above (premature) pre-release poster toyed with.

With the original 4 actors together again, they should have gone with a Van Sant shot-for-shot remake. The original's only 8 years old, and no classic - not only is everything old new, everything new is new.

I just hope they don't give Vin too much screen time. Less is more, at least in his case.

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