I love Mustangs, but I do appreciate cars and racing in general. In high school, The Fast and The Furious (FF1) released during my Junior year, 2001. I loved it. 2 Fast 2 Furious (FF2) released during my Freshman year of college, 2002. I loved it more for the nod to muscle cars, and the driving was much cooler. Four years later, The Fast and The Furious: Tokyo Drift (FF3) released in 2006. Three years later, Fast and Furious (FF4) released in 2009. Finally, in 2011, Fast 5 (FF5) came out, packing a punch with an aggregate cast and the addition of Dwayne Johnson. I only saw FF1 and FF2 in the theaters and even owned them at one point. I did not see the rest in the theaters. These movies have unique aspects to them, but they are a bit scatter-brained with various identity crises. Let me talk about them briefly.
The Fast and The Furious
Ahh, the one that started them all. During a time of algorithmic car tuning and bumble-bee fart can exhausts, this movie was all about the underground world of street racing, specifically the quarter mile. Starring Vin Diesel and Paul Walker, it’s most powerful vehicle was a 1970 Dodge Charger. All the rest of the cars were imports–Mitsubishi Eclipse, Mazda RX-7, Toyota Supra, Nissan Maxima, VW Jetta, and more. The racing gang would steal truck payloads of DVD players to fund their underground ways. This movie truly was a racing and car movie.
2 Fast 2 Furious
And then there was the obligatory sequel. While the first one took place in LA, this one took place on the opposite end of the sun belt, Miami. Paul Walker returned, being joined by Tyrese Gibson, Ludacris, and Eva Mendes. Racing takes a backseat in this movie as it is more of a crime plot that involves car chases. It’s most powerful vehicle was probably the Yenko Camero or the Dodge Challenger–both classics, and there was a brief appearance of a Dodge Viper, Chevrolet Corvette, and Ford Mustang V6 with Saleen bodykit, but otherwise, again, it was all about the imports, including, but not limited to, a Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution, Mitsubishi Eclipse Spyder, Nissan Skyline GT-R, and Honda S2000.
The Fast and The Furious: Tokyo Drift
This movie breaks chronological sequence based on Han’s death. Han appears in both FF4 and FF5, so FF3 must take place afterwards. Frustrating, I know. Anyway, neither Vin Diesel nor Paul Walker feature in this film, but Vin Diesel appears at the end. This movie is all about underground drift racing in Tokyo. Now here is a movie about racing and cars, just like FF1. It’s most notable cars were a Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution, Mazda RX-8, Nissan 350Z, and a classic Mustang with a Japanese engine (heresy, I know).
Fast and Furious
Instead of stealing truck payloads of DVD players, Vin Diesel starts off in the Dominican Republic stealing petrol from a moving truck. He then goes into hiding with authorities hot on his tail. His girlfriend, Letty, gets murdered, which brings him back to the states. He wants revenge. There is one race in the movie, a street race through the city, but then the rest of the movie entails drug smuggling and kidnapping, not racing. Just like FF2, this movie is more about crime and car chases. However, it featured a lot of American muscle. The 1970 Dodge Challenger from FF1 appears again, but now also with a Chevy Nova SS, Ford Tourino, classic Camaro, a newer Mustang, and more, but still had its share of imports, such as the Nissan Skyline GT-R and a Subaru WRX. Vin Diesel’s character gets arrested and sentenced to prison without parole. The next film immediately picks up here.
While Vin Disel’s character is on his way to prison, Paul Walker and company force the bus to roll, and they spring Vin free, fleeing to South America. Hard times befall them as they are all now on the FBI’s most wanted list. They decide to take a job, because they need the money. The job goes sour real quick. They were stealing a GT40 and a Ford GT along with a Corvette kit car (or so it seamed). It turns out that the cars were somehow linked with Rio de Janeiro’s criminal mastermind, and he wanted something from them. His henchman seek out Vin and company at the same time that Dwayne Johnson and crew are encroaching upon them. Oh, and Paul Walker and Jordana Brewster, who plays Vin’s sister in the movie and Paul’s girlfriend, is pregnant, so they all decide to do one last major job to fund themselves for the rest of their lives while they flee to a land beyond the reach of the US. Sounds good. But it doesn’t go so well. There’s one race, and it is a drag race of all the main characters driving standard issue police cars. No customizations. No graphics, decals, or idiotic spoilers. But then there is a sweet fight between Vin Diesel and Dwayne Johnson. And then there is a firefight in the Favelas. And then there is the heist. Yes, this is a heist movie with car chases. It’s not a racing movie, I must say. Very cool and unique, they use the standard issue Dodge Chargers to yank a vault out of the wall and drag it around Rio, ultimately making a clean–but super destructive–getaway. The kicker: Letty, Michelle Rodriguez’ character in FF1 and FF4, is alive!
I’m a bit ticked off about the chronology. If Tokyo Drift takes place after FF5, shouldn’t the cars be updated? Grr. Otherwise, it’s an entertaining franchise. It was never meant to have the best acting, so I don’t ding it for its downfalls there. It was originally a street racing movie, but the other movies haven’t all fallen suit. In fact, only the “first” (FF1) and the “last” (FF3) have anything to do with street racing. The others are crime movies with car chases and racing elements at best. The last (FF5) is a strong heist movie along the lines of The Italian Job or even Ocean’s Twelve, though clearly the latter two are superior in humor, acting, and plot, but FF5 is still a good one.
I’m still ticked that American muscle hasn’t been given more precedence in the movies, but I understand why–a lot of the underground racing scene as of the last 12 years has been dominated by imports. At least FF4 and FF5 had a strong presence of American muscle, and even still FF1 and FF2 showed strong favor towards our heritage.
All in all, the franchise is entertaining. I may not own the movies, but if they are on TV, I might be tempted to watch them.
So, what about you? Do you like the Fast and Furious franchise? Ooo, and do you think Letty truly is alive?