Buoyed by deservedly positive word-of-mouth, Fast & Furious 6 topped the box office this past weekend, with a $97 million opening weekend. Yet the sequel also represents something of a turning point for Universal’s brawny, lucrative franchise, as it pivots away from its roots in underground street-racing, micro-skirt ogling and barely concealed homoeroticism (well, OK, those last two still exist) and into a sort of revenge-tinged heist/criminal takedown series, in the vein of The Italian Job.
An important antecedent to the series highly worth checking out, however, is Gone in 60 Seconds. No, no, no… not the 2000 remake starring Nicolas Cage before he lost his battle with hairplugs and Angelina Jolie before she became more fully stabilized, but the original 1974 film from multi-hyphenate H.B. Halicki, which laid waste to almost 100 vehicles over the course of its sprawling centerpiece car chase. If the Fast & Furious franchise has been employment heaven for the small army of sound mixers, digital effects compositors and, yes, stunt drivers who help breathe life into its most gloriously over-the-top moments, Halicki’s movie is a throwback to the days of leaner, meaner, hands-on destruction — before genre cash-dashes became Hollywood studio tentpoles. I write more words about it over at Yahoo Movies, so click here to give it a read.