FAST X – Our favourite Stars & Cars

There’s just something about a car movie…Done right, they can be the most exhilarating cinematic experiences, which partly explains the simple unadulterated fun of the ‘Fast and the Furious’ franchise. ‘FAST X’ arrives this weekend & launches the final chapters of one of cinema’s most storied & popular global franchises, now in its 3rd decade & still going strong with the same core cast & characters as when it began. To mark its release we look at our favourite movies that combined stars & cars to memorable effect. Fasten your seatbelts!

MAD MAX (1979)
The sequels became progressively more convoluted, but the original Max remains a raw viewing experience packed with practical car stunts. It might look dated now, but that’s all part of the fun. Make it a double bill with the incredible, fully-bananas ‘Mad Max: Fury Road’.

Speaking of going bananas, we had to give a shoutout to this Disney comedy starring Lindsay Lohan as the racer-owner of the titular VW Beetle with a mind of its own. Consider watching it alongside John Carpenter’s ‘Christine’ (1983) about another car with a far more violent personality. Both visions of our AI-car-driving future, sheeple!

Of course we had to mention the movie starring one of the coolest men to ever get behind the wheels on screen. Steve McQueen, a racing addict himself in real life, plays a lovelorn endurance racer in a movie that weaves in actual footage from the 1970 Le Mans race. A perfect viewing match with the 2019 movie ‘Ford V Ferrari’ (retitled ‘Le Mans ‘66’ in some markets), and ‘Rush’ (2013), about the rivalry between James Hunt (Chris Hemsworth) and Nicki Lauda (the
great Daniel Bruhl).

The shadow of McQueen looms large over Ryan Gosling’s portrayal of the nameless stuntman/getaway driver in this stylish cult classic. Bonus points for the casting of Albert Brooks as the baddie – he being the man who voiced Hank Scorpio in that classic episode of ‘The Simpsons’. This movie’s influence can be clearly seen in Edgar Wright’s ‘Baby Driver’ (2017), which was a huge hit, but whose legacy has been impacted by some of its, erm, problematic male stars.

Burt Reynolds is in the driver’s seat for this action-comedy about a cross-country outlaw road race, but look who else is along for the ride. Roger Moore! Dean Martin and Sammy Davis Jr! Farrah Fawcett! Jackie Chan! There are two sequels to it, and you can get more Burt motor action in ‘White Lightening’, and ‘Smokey and the Bandit’.

BEN HUR (1959)
Okay history nerds with your “facts”, so this doesn’t feature cars, but, come on, the chariot was the car of the Roman Empire, right? This Oscar-laden swords-and-sandals epic gets an honourable mention because the set piece nine-minute chariot race is still an absolute banger to behold – all the more impressive when you consider this movie is over 60 years old.

No car chases or explosions in this 1995 movie, but the feels are in overdrive, as Whoopi Goldberg and Mary Louise-Parker share driving duties while travelling cross-country with Drew Barrymore in tow. All 3 women are escaping from something, and the likeable cast make this a ride worth taking. Not to be confused with the Irish schoolboy-giggle-inducing Drew Barrymore vehicle, ‘Riding in Cars With Boys’ (tee-hee-hee).

One of the greatest road movies, this Geena Davis/Susan Sarandon two-hander is over 30 years old but has lost none of its power to entertain, thrill, enrage & move. And that ending is still an absolute killer. So to speak. Watch it with the 1967 classic ‘Bonnie and Clyde’.

DUEL (1971)
Steven Spielberg’s lean, mean directorial debut remains a belter of a road movie, one of several drivers-in-peril/menaced-by-evil-truckers movies that are all, surprisingly, great. Make this a viewing maraton with ‘Breakdown’ (97), ‘Joy Ride’ (01), ‘Collateral’ (04) & ‘Locke’ (13).

Trying to do for race cars what Top Gun did for fighter jets, this sees Tom Cruise play an ambitious racer with the amazing name of Cole Trickle facing off against rivals like Michael Rooker and Cary Elwes, while falling for a neurosurgeon played by his future ex-wife Nicole Kidman. Make it a NASCAR double feature with the comedy,
‘Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby’ (2006).

Like the FAST franchise, there’s a special place in our movie hearts for heist action flicks with loads of deadly cars. This Nic Cage/Angelina Jolie movie is a prime example, but see also ‘The Italian Job’ (both versions), ‘The Transporter’ (2002), and Luc Besson’s ‘Taxi’ series.

Morgan Freeman gets behind the wheel as chauffeur to Jessica Tandy’s old southern battleaxe – and noted road menace – Miss Daisy in 1940s Atlanta. It’s never going to rival ‘Fast and the Furious’ for action-packed thrills but here, the car serves as the vehicle (ahem) for greater understanding between people of different backgrounds and experiences. See also: ‘Green Book’ (2018), which, like Daisy, won the Best Picture Oscar much to some film fans’ annoyance. Still, we’ll always thank Miss Daisy for giving Morgan Freeman the career boost that turned him into a 1990s leading man.

FAST X is now showing in Irish Cinemas!

Words : Declan Cashin