Greetings and salutations, reader! The Fast and Furious movies have a become global hit with audiences, with 9-mainline movies, a spin-off, and upcoming 10th installment to a franchise that has lasted over two decades. What was once a movie about street racers hijacking trucks for dvd players to international spies saving the world in the name “family” (insert mumble-growl here). While highly absurd, we the audience still show up to the cinemas whenever there’s a new movie, so in preparation for Fast X, I just wanna share my thoughts on how much this franchise has changed.
It has been 22-years since the first Fast and Furious movie hit movie theaters back in 2001 with actors Vin Diesel and Paul Walker, two relatively unknown actors at the time would re-introduce movie goers to the world of street racing, and unknowingly be a part of a successful franchise. Like I’ve said earlier, there have been nine movies, 10 if you include Hobbes and Show, and with Fast X continuing the main storyline.
For newer audiences to the franchise may not know this, but the Fast Saga started out as family-based tale with humble beginnings, but slowly and gradually vanished as more and more movies come out. With the soft-reboot of 2009’s Fast and Furious (yeah, really confusing title), steering the franchise away form it’s street-racing roots with incorporating more action and crime drama. In that movie, street racing was only used as minor plot device so our protagonist could infiltrate a criminal organization- much like the first one did, just less of an emphasis.
Things really started to change with Fast Five back in 2011, with Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson joining the cast is where we see the franchise found its style- high-octane action. In Fast Five, we see Brian, Mia, and Dom on the run from the law and are forced into hiding in Brazil. Whilst taking on a job to earn some cash, the plan goes awry and leads to the deaths of several FBI agents, thus Johnson’s Luke Hobbes is tasked to bring them in. This fifth installments sees the return of Tej (Ludacris) and Roman Pierce (Tyrese Gibson) from 2 Fast 2 Furious, a pre-Wonder Woman Gal Gadot, the man with the snacks Han (Sung Kang) from Tokyo Drift, also for the ride are comedic reliefs Leo and Santos.
This completes the new iteration of the Fast Crew as they set out on the biggest heist the series has seen yet- stealing US$100 million from Brazil’s biggest drug lord. The films’ climax features an intense car chase which involves dragging a safe full of money on the streets of Rio de Janeiro whilst being chased by dirty cops. Personally, Fast Five is an amazing heist movie, and can be enjoyed watching on its own without prior knowledge of past movies.
With the success of Fast Five, future movies in the franchise seem to follow in its footsteps by focusing the action, high-stakes drama, intense car chases, and family. By the time of Fast and Furious 6, the crew are still wanted fugitives but are enjoying the good life from their last heist. This time however, international criminal and high-precision driver Owen Shaw (Luke Evens) with his own crew of drivers are out to steal an EMP device known as “Nightshade.” Johnson’s Hobbes’ returns and cuts a deal with the Dom’s crew- take down Shaw for their freedom. Oh yeah, Michelle Rodriguez’s Letty is back from the dead and has “amnesia” (in case you’re wondering, Letty was supposedly killed in Fast 4) and is working with Owen Shaw now, because reasons.
I have nothing against Fast 6 as a movie- in fact, I enjoyed it when I came out in cinemas- my major gripe is that the writers have turned these people into superheroes with cars now. I kid you not, their cars and their bodies seem to withstand almost anything now, like when Dom smashes his car into a road barrier so he could launch his body through the air, so he could catch another character in midair, and finally landing on some randos’ car windshield, with both of them surviving unscathed- oh yeah, there was also tank involved. And there’s also the “Longest Runway” scene which lasted for almost 20 minutes, full of spectacle, with explosions everywhere, cars literally driving through fiery debris and the longest airplane take-off ever. It’s a great action scene that’ll get the adrenaline pumping for sure, but c’mon! if Fast Five was grounded action, Fast and Furious 6 is dumb fun. Also, this is where Hans’ car crash takes place in Tokyo, making the timeline finally up to date.
Okay, I’m not gonna recap the next couple of movies because they’re almost similar at this point. All you need to know is that Jason Statham’s Deckard Shaw (bother of Owen Shaw) is the bad guy in one movie, then he’s not in the next and joins the crew. And speaking the crew, remember when I said about them becoming international spies, well this is that moment, complete with an intelligence agency backing them and with Charlize Theron’s Cipher as full on Bond villain.
These two movies do move the story along even if some of the fanbase has checked out at this point, the franchise still manages to retain the high-octane energy. In Furious 7 we have cars falling out of airplanes, we have Dom in a sports car launching through a skyscraper window and smashing through the next one. Fate of the Furious also ups the ante even further which involves a nuclear submarine and Dom’s car outrunning a ballistic missile… I know, these movies are popcorn flicks, and maybe we shouldn’t judge them to harshly on the insanity happening before the screen. The fanbase have wondered where franchise could go from here, and even jokingly that next logical step is going into space- which they did.
2021’s F9 -man, they’ve really ran out of titles- proudly embraces the meme of going into space. With returning characters from the black sheep of the franchise, Tokyo Drift, we see Sean Boswell (Lucas Black), Twinkie (Bow Wow) and Earl (Jason Tobin) now as rocket engineers helping the crew get to space. Weirdly enough, that’s not the most absurd thing about this movie, or the franchise’s cliché of bringing back dead characters- yes, Han is alive- but the top spot goes to the fact that Dominic “Family (mumble growl) Toretto has a secret evil brother…
Yeah, we now enter the soap phase of the franchise with Dom’s bother Jakob (who has never been mentioned before until this point) portrayed byt wrestler turned actor John Cena is now working for Cipher and is out for revenge. You could argue that the franchise has gotten a little out of hand, the focus being more on the big action-sequence than a cohesive plot and characters. But hey, these are still making a lot of money in the box-office and people still enjoy, who am I to complain, right.
If this is any indicator, Fast X and its planned sequel, audiences should expect more of the same antics and superhero-ish feats the franchise has become. Now that literal superheroes Jason Mamoa (Aquaman and Brie Larson (Capt. Marvel) have joined the cast, things could only go crazier from here. Personally, I do prefer the older movies as opposed to the newer instalments for one simple reason: movies One through Five were for the most part grounded in reality. It boils down to this, if you love these movies, great. If you don’t, there’s other options. So, will you be watching FX?
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