It was starting to feel like something I was missing out on. It wasn’t until the sixth sequel was released until I found out this was a huge blockbuster franchise that people saw and talked about and shared opinions like, “Oh, it really doesn’t get good till the fifth one.” I wanted to have opinions like it doesn’t get good till the fifth one, too! And the more I heard about Fast and/or Furious the more I realized I needed to dive deep into this tritan of summer cinema nouveau (AKA Vin Diesel’s pecs) and rub my greasy pop culture addled op-ed (AKA my penis) all over it.
Day 1 – The Fast and The Furious (2001)
Going in I didn’t know much. I could tell that the cars went fast and that furious was personification. I knew Vin Diesel was in the series, and that he probably got the job based on his name alone. And I was pretty sure The Rock showed up at some point but I wasn’t sure.
The flick starts by reminding us it’s 2001 with flying chrome graphics and generic hip-hop. Every scene is bathed in reds and oranges, giving it that hottest day of the year vibe.
I previously knew Vin Diesel from The Iron Giant and Guardians of the Galaxy, where he shows off a specific set of acting skills, but The Fast and the Furious is where he sets himself apart, since every character is the exact same and he plays that character the best. Diesel plays Dominic Toretto (it should be the other way around, right?), a tough guy who loves street racing. There’s his sister is Mia, a tough girl who loves street racing. His girlfriend, Letty, is crazy about street racing, but watch out she’s pretty tough. His best friend is Jesse, he’s a street racer with a bit of a tough guy edge. And finally Brian, the undercover cop who knows a thing or two about racing cars, but can handle his own in this underground world of crime due to his overall tough demeanor.
From this point the movie kind of turns into a pretty interesting crime story. Brian has to find out who stole a truck full of DVD players (2001, 2001, 2001) and he’s pretty sure it’s not his new buddy Dom, ’cause they’re such good buds. But then it is. But before that there’s a lot of car racing, shots of girls butts, Nos product placement, and generic Asian bad guys. Although, despite all that, not unwatchable. It makes sense that it at least received a sequel.
Day 2 – 2 Fast 2 Furious (2003)
2 Fast 2 Furious has no characters from the first one except Brian, and like, his police boss or something. This movie is about how Brian is too much of a bad cop but they need him for a bad cop job that only bad cops with car knowledge can do. He enlists his old friend Roman, played by Tyrese Gibson. The friendship between the two of them are what really drives this movie since there’s nothing else to hold on to.
The sexism gets ramped up in this one, with women offered up as prizes for winning races and more booty shots than you can shake a can of Nos at. At one point Roman yells at Eva Mendes’s character for being a slut because part of her undercover work involves sleeping with the bad guys, and Eva Mendes just looks down like: you’re right, I’m a total hoochie, when she should have yelled right back at him for risking her life and doing their job better than them.
A boat blows up at the end.
Day 3 – The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift (2006)
This movie takes place in Asia and still find a way to make Asians the bad guys.
So Tokyo Drift: it’s a fish out of water story where the fish fits right in because all the fish care about are cars, and boy-howdy can this fish drive a car. This movie makes a lot less sense than the previous two and moves at a much slower pace, while featuring a main character who doesn’t have any clear goals besides wanting to drive fast cars, the one thing he’s not suppose to do, and breaking up an interracial relationship because the girl is a good guy and her boyfriend is a bad guy but she should be dating a good guy. It’s film 101.
The third act of this movie is a race, something Fast 1 and 2 were smart enough to stay away from. It goes on for too long, you can’t remember any of the stakes, but the white guys won and that’s probably the one we were cheering for.
Also, there’s a car that looks like the Hulk. I liked the hulk car.
Day 4 – Fast and Furious (2009)
Fast and Furious feels like the true sequel to the original film. All our favorite characters are back and I genuinely smiled when Vin Diesel appeared on screen. But beyond that this movie is very, very boring. I would rather sit through the nonsense of Tokyo Drift again than the nothingness of Fast and Furious.
Letty dies… it feels unnecessary, and it’s not even the blaze of glory would expect from this series.
My only other note was that there’s a billboard for The Simpsons in one shot.
I have nothing else to say.
Day 5 – Fast Five (2011)
–Which would be a great double meaning type thing if there were five characters, but there’s ten of them on the poster. Fast Five Plus Five?
This is the first movie in the series that feels worth seeing. There’s a good mix of fun and dumb moments that would make ducking into a cool movie theater on a hot day a fun experience.
The movie is built around action sequences, the most original and entertaining being the opening, where the crew steal cars from a moving train, which keeps moving because when the police on the train find out it’s being robbed tell the staff, “Don’t stop the train no matter what!” Like I said, fun and dumb. I’m a sucker for a train robbery.
Dwayne Johnson finally shows up, delivering every line with such macho intensity you would think his voice-box is one of his bulging muscles.
Even though this is the first “good” Fast flick, it’s the most steeped in continuity. There are references to all four previous movies, including the return on Sung Kang’s character, who died in Tokyo Drift, confirming that the Fast and Furious movies do not take place in chronological order. Yup.
In the end they pull off a big heist, everyone is rich and happy and they can all retire.
Day 6 – Fast & Furious 6 (2013)
Or is it???
“Our old life is over,” Dom tells Bryan at the start of the movie. Except by now this franchise is making too much money for them to be done. Poor babies.
To upheave the Fast Boys from their perfect lives something big has to happen, like bringing back a dead main character who was actually alive the whole time but has amnesia and is working for the bad guys. Sorry, Letty.
6 steals a lot of story beats from 5, which is understandable but disappointing. Mostly fun action set pieces between scenes of people standing around in concrete garages. Everyone is always “Hollywood Dirty” in these movies. Like, they haven’t been able to shower in two week but it somehow made them hotter.
Also in Five, The Rock’s police partner leaves him for the good guys and in this one he gets a new partner, who’s exactly the same, but leaves him for the bad guys. Their D&D alignments are all over the place.
Also, there’s a part in this movie where two tanks run into each other and I liked it. And the ending was stolen from Toy Story 2.
It took six movies but I’m actually excited to watch the next one. I actually thought this would happen sooner, since I tend to enjoy the act of watching movies alone, but it’s really felt like a chore up to this point.
Day 7 – Furious 7 (2015)
I was avoiding talking about Paul Walker up to this point. His death was a tragedy and I didn’t want to seem like I was making light of it. But you can’t ignore it when the last three minutes of this movie are essentially a YouTube FMV: footage of Walker from the last fourteen years plays on the screen to the sound of Charlie Puth’s sweet soulful baby voice, concluding with a CGI rendering of the late actor driving into the sunset. I cried. I cried real bad. I cried and the collective world of street racing bros cried with me.
I will be seeing Fast 8.