Slow News Day: Dom Toretto is one of the greatest (fictional) athletes of our generation

Slow News Day: Dom Toretto is one of the greatest (fictional) athletes of our generation

Vin Diesel’s Dom Toretto lives his life a quarter-century at a time. That’s almost how long the Fast and Furious franchise has been since snaking its way into the sports-entertainment lexicon. You heard me right. In my personal headcanon, the Fast Saga is a quintessential sports franchise, and it should be officially recognized as such. Browse through any catalog of the greatest sports movies in Hollywood annals and you’ll glimpse the usual suspects; Rocky, 42, He Got Game, A League of Their Own…Air Bud. The branches that have grown from the original Fast and the Furious created one of the most ubiquitous sports film series in cinematic history.

Don’t give me that look. I never said they were high-quality features. What started out as a gritty sports movie about a mechanic with a passion for illicit street racing has been bastardized into grotesque spy-action-sci-fi-comedy pablum, that’s only semi-aware of how over the top the plotlines have gotten.

It’s already well-established that drivers are athletes. The hand-eye coordination, endurance, and equanimity it takes to push speeds topping 150 MPH, whip, or drift around corners on asphalt are awe-inspiring. Sure, The Saga’s grown monstrously cartoonish and stretched into other genres, but that’s as much of an artistic choice as whatever the hell Karate Kid’s Daniel LaRusso was delving into after the original. The original film was inspired by a May 1998 expose in Vibe by writer Kevin Li into the underground street racing world. Ironically, Li’s original draft included his dual attempts to uncover a car theft ring in New York City, but that aspect was edited out of his original story, and by happenstance ended up being used as the backdrop of screenwriter Rob Cohen’s final script.

At some point, the Fast Saga drifted from those roots. Probably around the same time they started resurrecting long-dead characters and committing elaborate heists and selling out by becoming pawns of the CIA. Street racing is just a less organized, riskier version of the Monaco Grand Prix, and even Chicago is getting into the street racing game with its own street circuit. The Fast Saga was just ahead of its time. These characters are also entering their late 40s and 50s though. How much longer could they hoist the banner as the figures responsible for elevating the SoCal drag racing scene into the mainstream? It’s a young man’s game and they’re over two decades into the series.

That’s what happens when you start trying to extract every buck you can out of a good idea. In total, the series has grossed $7 billion and milked everything it can out of its characters. Remember when Rocky Balboa scrapped with Tommy Morrisson outside of a bar in Rocky 5’s climactic scene? It’s still a boxing movie, isn’t it?

With that said, the Fast Saga being a sports franchise, it’s past time we canonize Dom Toretto as one of the greatest fictional athletes of our time. Not only does he weave between traffic at unimaginable speeds, but he fought The Rock to a draw, and his background is in stock car racing. He’s arguably the first extreme sports heptathlete between the driving, the poorly planned heists, the heart-pounding and completely unrealistic mid-air stunts on top of moving cars, the feats of strength, and the superhuman ass kickings. Seriously, peep this generational athleticism.

With all the professional athletes who’ve guest starred in the Fast Saga ranging from Ronda Rousey to Dwayne Johnson to Gina Carano, I’m surprised they haven’t retconned a background as an MMA combatant into Toretto’s background yet. On second thought, maybe we shouldn’t give them any ideas.

Toretto is a multi-sport star, but at his core he’s a driver and in the automotive cinematic universe, he is essentially Lewis Hamilton in a turbocharged hot rod. He’s incredibly clutch under pressure and wins almost every tough race.

Even the teamwork, espoused as often as a cult mantra is much of a sports idiom as Heat Culture. The primary takeaway from the saga is that there’s no I in team, but there is one in family. The other lesson? Fast and the Furious deserves recognition for launching one of the most successful sports franchises in film history.

Follow DJ Dunson on Twitter: @cerebralsportex

Original source here

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About the Author

Anthony Barnett
Anthony is the author of the Science & Technology section of ANH.