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Analyzing The Fast and the Furious Genre

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One of my favorite parts of going to watch a movie are the previews. Depending on what type of movie you go see they will show similar movies in that particular genre. If you go see a romantic comedy you are sure to see previews for light-hearted and humorous stories of two people falling in love. At the other end of a spectrum, if you are going to see a horror movie, expect to see previews filled with fear and shock! Genre is what help us identify what type of movies we are more likely to see and it’s also an important way to help categorize films. After exploring genre theory, the feature length film “The Fast and the Furious” will help break down the conventions of the action movie genre as laid out in the story and plot.

Genre theory is important to explore because they are “in varying degrees, how studios categorize the films they make— and how audiences categorize the films they want to see.” (Goodykoontz & Jacob, 2011) Some people will only go to the movies to catch critically acclaimed dramas and not waste their time on comedies and others will do vice versa. Movies are entertainment for us but a million dollar business for studios and producers and they will logically produce movies in the genre that will make them a profit. Different genre’s are always evolving as different genre’s merge to create unique story lines.

As of late, fantasy movies involving vampires and zombies such as ’Twilight’ and ‘Warm Bodies have been popular because they turn components of what would have been in a horror film to a different storyline involving love and comedy. My preferred genre is the action thriller film. “Action films and popular novels can offer scenarios of empowerment in which viewers’ actual physical and social limitations become irrelevant.”(Gallagher, 2006) It can involve fighting sequences, explosions, stunts and and intense, almost impossible, scenarios.

One of my favorite action movies is ‘The Fast and the Furious’. It follows the main character, Brian O’Conner, who is an undercover cop put to investigate a string of high speed truck robberies that involve very expensive electronics. His prime suspect is a very influential and respected street racer Dominic Toretto. Being the ‘new guy’ in Los Angeles O’Conner tries to fit in with Torreto’s racing crew by participating in car street racing and participating in their robberies. He eventually infiltrates Torreto’s crew and earns their respect. As time passes, O’Brien starts to sympathize with Torretto and this feeling is emphasized as he falls in love with his Sister Mia.

Through out the film there are action packed races with close call accidents, fight scenes, chases from rival gangs and the police. The underlying intensity of the film is caught with O’Conner because the audiences is constantly trying to figure out whether is going to turn in Torreto and his crew to the police or whether he become a renegade out of loyalty to Torreto. We don’t find out until the very last scene in the movie so the audience is on the edge of their seat from beginning to end…very classic component of an action film!

The most obvious genre component that help identify this as an action film is the racing scenes. These scenes are what gives the movie it’s title and what audiences have come to expect out of all the Fast and Furious sequels. One of the most important racing scenes happens in the beginning of the movie. This race served as a test for O’Conner. The race initially starts off with 5 drivers but with all the crazy stunts that are pulled their are only two driver’s left at the last leg of the race, Torreto and O’ Conner. The last secs of the race are extremely dangerous and almost impossible for an unexperienced driver but Torreto and O’ Conner are tit for tat as they inch closer to the finish line. Torreto is calm and collective while O’Conner is trying to do the same but you can tell that he is not as good as Torreto. Toretto eventually wins the race but you can tell that he is impressed by O’Conner’s bravery and tenacity to not back down from a ‘fight’. You can say that Torreto finally accepts O’Conner into his crew and O’ Conner has officially infiltrated as an undercover cop.

An action film cannot be without some sort of fight or struggle and since this film has plenty of it this will be the second genre component identified. The fight with the most meaning in this film was between O’ Conner and Vince, Torreto’s closest friend in the gang. Vince is skeptical of O’Conner and believes he is cop. Vince confronts O’Conner and lets him know that he is on to him. To prove he isn’t a cop, O’Conner starts a fight with Vince. Torreto eventually walks up to the scene, breaks up the flight and argues with Vince about how he disapproves of the way he treats O’Conner. This scene creates a rift in friendship between Torreto and Vince while O’Conner is gaining trust from the crew. The audience in turn starts to feel conflicted because they know that O’Conner is really a cop and Torreto is making a mistake!

The most interesting genre component in this action film is the classic Good vs Bad because the lines are constantly blurred. The film makes the audience feel sympathy for Torreto and his crew who are criminals and the undercover, who is suppose to represent ‘good’ is constantly walking the line between doing his job and turning into the guy is out to incriminate. This adds intensity to the already action packed film and it keeps the audience in suspense because they are unable to predict the outcome of the characters.

There are positives to each type of movie genre but an action film is the most exciting. The Fast and the Furious showed the audience three distinct genre components that helps classify it as a action film: dramatic and dangerous street racing, intense fights and the internal conflict of Good vs Bad felt within the characters and the audience.


Work cited
According to Goodykoontz & Jacobs (2011),in varying degrees, how studios categorize the films they make— and how audiences categorize the films they want to see.’ (p. 8.1).

According to Gallagher (2006), “Action films and popular novels can offer scenarios of empowerment in which viewers’ actual physical and social limitations become irrelevant.” (p. 6).


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