Monday, September 29, 2008

Heavy (Detroit) metal: Stop the carnage!

So, Fast & Furious 4 is coming to movie screens in June 2009, when gasoline promises to be up around five or six (US) dollars a gallon and Americans will be bicycling or walking to the theater. In fact, the long-form trailer for the new movie shows a high-speed hijacking of a multi-trailer gasoline truck with a "street value" of a million plus. You know, like drugs. "Addiction to oil" meets the original Mad Max:

But WB would like to ask the FF4 producers to please, please, please not destroy a classic, irreplaceable Mopar muscle car in this one. In FF1, Vin Diesel sends a gorgeous black Dodge Charger (above) skyward and rolls it end over end. In FF2, a beautiful orange Dodge Challenger (left) takes the hit — literally. But just as the tank-truck hijacking isn't original in FF4, neither is the annihilation of Detroit iron.

In the Peter Fonda cult classic, Dirty Mary and Crazy Larry (left), it's another Dodge Charger that gets smashed by a train in the last two seconds of the film and explodes into a fireball. In the car-chase classic Bullitt starring Steve McQueen, it's a Dodge Charger, again, that's destroyed at the end of the chase sequence by plowing into a fuel depot.

In the "Am I stoned, or is this movie just tripping?" zeitgeist chronicle and cult favorite Vanishing Point, a mysterious loner named Kowalski drives a stunning white Dodge Challenger (left) head-on into a pair of road-construction bulldozers and makes it go kaboom in flames. But the film's producers had enough sense to know that destroying a gem of a car like this is like Old Rose chucking that priceless blue diamond into the sea at the end of Titanic, so they swapped in a generic white stunt sedan and used some skillful edits to make the shot work.

Unfortunately, when Quentin Tarantino came along with Death Proof and wanted to pay homage to this famous white Challenger, he didn't give his car the same protective stunt-sedan treatment. Not only did the Q's Dodge get beaten all to hell in painful detail, but the director also decided to send a black Charger (right) to the junkyard while he was at it. Or maybe he was just paying further homage to the Fox Network's 1997 TV remake of Vanishing Point, starring Viggo Mortensen, where the filmmakers rewrote the story to include the destruction of — only one guess now — a black Dodge Charger.


But when it comes to unforgivable ignorance and reckless stupidity, the producers of TV's The Dukes of Hazzard take the trophy hands-down. Some 300 — that's three hundred — Dodge Chargers were obliterated during the show's long run, with each of the notorious creek-jumps by the orange "General Lee" a death knell for one after another of the doomed muscle machines. And the movie version with Jessica Simpson as Daisy Duke wasn't much kinder: 26 more Chargers gave their lives for this worthless remake.

So please, FF4 people — and every other Hollywood bonehead planning to film a car chase: Hands off the classic Mopar muscle! The destruction of irreplaceable artifacts isn't "action," it's tragedy. If you want to kill Chargers and Challengers, go get the new ones; they're just reworked pretty shells sitting on Chrysler 300C frames, anyway. Have at 'em. But leave the old iron monsters alone. There won't be any more of them rolling off the assembly line — ever.

These things are called Chargers and Challengers — smash all you want.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Dang, only their VINs remain!