The Best Analysis of Fast Five

2012 January 6

I haven’t posted on here in forever and in an attempt to get me started again, I’m going to let someone else do the writing for me. I read a review — more like an essay, really — in the magazine Film Quarterly about Fast Five, Contagion, and The Rise of the Planet of the Apes. In addition to being another source of praise for the last movie, it provided the most ridiculous critique of the final chase scene of the first. I took pictures of the paragraphs, but I’ll write them out here just to feel like I’m writing even though I’m only transcribing.

But what if we have been thinking of this all wrong, and the entire movie is just a pretext for something else altogether? It may be narrative idiocy of the first water — but it is, we must admit, the single best cinematic representation of the global financial crisis yet contrived, immeasurably better than Inside Job or Capitalism: A Love Story.

A weaponized concentration of capital seems to be dragged about by supermen; it is in fact dragging them around, laying waste to the world before it, destroying houses and urban centers and bodies as it races for safety — before recognizing that there is no safety and it should just turn violently on its pursuers in a festival of destruction.

In the textbook definition, capital is generally self-valorizing value; in a crisis it is inverted, and becomes self-annihilating value. The supermoney that seemed to run the world is revealed as “fictitious capital,” unrealized and finally unrealizable, but still in its auto-destruction capable of laying low the world around it. Which explains what would otherwise be the most intolerable plot device. In the end, it turns out that Dom and Brian have been hauling the fake vault through the city, while the actual box is spirited away, loot enclosed. As a scheme, it’s ludricous. As a reading of crisis in the world system, it’s immaculate — as if Hollywood had come to an intimate knowledge of volume 3 of Capital without reading, simply by bathing in the current of world money — and should complete the contemporary genre. I am seriously considering renaming this column “The Marx and the Furious.”

Sure it’s a bit of a stretch and an empty academic exercise, but you have to appreciate such an insane breakdown of the most absurd action sequence of 2011.

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  • Zygmunt Zwingli

    Fox’s Terra Nova is about a colony of humans in a parallel 65 million BC who reside there because unfettered capitalism has destroyed the ecology of our Earth to such an extent that having more than 2 children is a literal crime and prison is virtually a death sentence without access to a breathing apparatus.

    This colony is not governed by bourgeois democracy, but a paternalistic veteran of imperialist wars in Somalia whose sole purpose in life is to protect this New Earth and its incredible natural resources from the salivating jowls of the dome-dwelling financial oligarchy on our Earth, which requires he participate in a prolonged temporal cold war with their various agents, many of whom are simply desperate people from our own Earth. (e.g. convicts)

    The means of production on this New Earth are mainly held in common, but private enterprise is tolerated–usually bartering or the odd black marketer–and everyone lives happy, peaceful lives (aside from the man-eating dinosaurs and partisans of plutocracy) with their friends and family, not finding themselves perpetually alienated from their labor.

    Did I mention this show airs on Fox?

  • Michael

    The full article is here ( if anyone wants to read it.

    And I thought you might like this review of Moneyball:

    • CajoleJuice

      Thanks for that review (and the link to where this quote is from — I didn’t even bother to look).

      I like the suggestion that Bill James is the real great story in the modern history of baseball statistical analysis.