DAR Films: The Fast And Furious Series

By @TrueGodImmortal 

16 years ago, a film debuted starring Pitch Black star Vin Diesel and moderate star Paul Walker (along with Ja Rule, who was essentially at the height of his popularity). What if I told you that 16 years later, that film would have grown into one of the most successful franchises of all time? You'd probably look at me and say I'm crazy or just not believe that at all. I don't blame you. 16 years ago, when the Rob Cohen directed film "The Fast And The Furious" debuted, it seemed like a one off film. It gave off the appeal of perhaps a cult classic that went under the radar and would be loved by moviegoers who enjoyed fast cars, scantily clad women, and the concept of "family" from the underworld. However, the movie would grow to be much more. After 16 years, 8 films, and a complete reboot of the series essentially after the 4th film, The Fast And Furious movie series has become the biggest franchise in the history of Universal Pictures.

With well over 4 billion dollars earned worldwide (which includes a slight flop in the 3rd installment), The Fast And Furious series has tapped into our desire to watch pure action at a fast pace with a bit of a story attached to it. It doesn't matter how outlandish or unbelievable the feats are that they accomplish, the movies are exactly what action movies should be: entertainment. A franchise that has seen non traditional actors become the anchors for it (The Rock, Ludacris, Tyrese, and to an extent, Vin Diesel), The Fast And Furious franchise success is amazing. Today, we look at the series, what makes each movie special (or not special), and quickly review each film. Let's get into it.

*The Fast And The Furious (2001)

-Based on the Racer X articles from Vibe Magazine, this film was interesting. It's one of my least favorites in the series, but what made it pop was that it seemed like high octane style racing and the high speed chases that really became indicative of what to expect in the future of the franchise. This is our introduction to Brian, Dom, Letty, Vince, and Mia. All four of them would be vital to the franchise going forward, but honestly, this film doesn't do very much for me. It's a solid action film, but at its core, it's what the series was really intended to be: based on street racing, the culture, and the underworld within it. The film grew to be a huge success, finishing with a little over 200 million gross worldwide, because a surprise hit that catapulted both Vin Diesel and Paul Walker to newer heights.

*2 Fast 2 Furious (2003)

-Anytime Tyrese gets introduced into a series, it's bound to be a classic. Okay, maybe I'm exaggerating a lot... a whole lot, but Tyrese was some good comic relief in this movie as the new addition to the series Roman Pearce. Eva Mendes makes her Fast and Furious debut in this John Singleton directed film as an undercover agent named Monica Fuentes. This movie wasn't necessarily better than expected, but it flowed well enough to be entertaining. Ludacris makes his debut as Tej in this film, and Paul Walker has his most memorable scene in the entire series in this film. In case you forgot this happens, there's a dramatic pause and close up on Paul as he says to Roman, "I said forget about it cuh", which is probably the most hilarious and terrible moments in cinema history. Don't get me wrong, Paul Walker was solid in this movie as always, but lord knows John Singleton should be ashamed for putting that scene in (despite the many laughs it gave me). Still, 2 Fast 2 Furious was hugely successful, much like the first one, and earned over 230 million worldwide, earning 30 million than the first film.

*The Fast And The Furious: Tokyo Drift (2006)

-This is the essential dud in the film series, though it's not the only one IMO. This film took a different direction, and with a different director at the helm in Justin Lin, the action was structured much different than the first two. However, this is probably THE most important link in all of the films. Set some years down the line, and in the series timeline, right after Fast and Furious 6, but before the 7th installment, this film follows our newest protagonist Sean (played by Lucas Black), who was sent to live in Tokyo to avoid jail. The story sees Sean working with Han, who gets introduced in this film, and also befriending the oddly named character Twinkie, played by Bow Wow. Regardless, this film is an interesting one, and actually the most fun to watch as far as the races go. It's as close to a movie about street racing as you'd expect, but by the end of the film, you learn things that will lead us into the next group of films. This film is the link from the 4th through 6th parts of the series and when the movie ends with Dom popping back up to race Sean (after Han is killed), you know to expect something interesting. This one was a bit of a disappointment at the box office, only managing to gross 159 million worldwide, but for a movie to have nothing but new characters aside from a brief cameo by Dom, this did well and set up the next chapters. In many ways, this was just a set up film, and it worked well enough to lead into the next and much bigger chapters.

*Fast And Furious (2009)

-If there's one installment of the film that bored me to death, it was this one. I know, this was needed to trace the steps of the story back to what led Dom to end up in Tokyo to race Sean at the end of Tokyo Drift, and it all starts here. The next chapter of the Fast and Furious saga kicks off with the aptly titled reboot that saw Vin Diesel as the main character once again, Paul Walker was back, and of course with them comes Letty and Mia. This film was strange because we saw the apparent death of Letty, and the movie focused more on Dom and Brian than anyone else. Still, this film did very little for me, and although it was massively successfully to the tune of over 360 million worldwide, it's the most insignificant one of the series to me. It does provide context for the Han appearance and showcases Dom and Brian in their lives once again (Dom ends up sentenced to prison at the end of this one), but it just doesn't grasp me as a viewer honestly, something a majority of the other films did.

*Fast Five (2011)

-This was where the series took a turn for the better. After one of the more interesting character additions with The Rock as Luke Hobbs, this film took over and changed the face of the franchise. No one had challenged Dom quite like the addition of Hobbs and honestly, I'd dare say Rock is a big reason why the franchise took off yet again. This film sees the entire crew from movies past (except those from Tokyo Drift) work together to pull off the biggest heist thus far, as they target a man who has 100 million dollars in cash. The story begins with Hobbs and his partner Elena chasing down the team and ends with Hobbs and Elena working side by side with Dom and his team of "criminals" who were seemingly wanted for their acts (mainly Dom escaping at the beginning of the film). Overall, this film is where the action ramps up and we get to see the great back and forth between Hobbs and Dom here, signaling a new era of sorts for the franchise. The drama in the film is honestly great up until the very end, as we see the budding romance between Dom and Elena after the death of Letty, Hobbs letting Dom and crew go free, Mia being pregnant, and the final scene where we learn Letty isn't actually dead after all. Of all the films in the series, this is my favorite, and it would end up as the biggest of the series thus far, earning well over 620 million worldwide. A huge victory for the franchise.

*Fast And Furious 6 (2013)

-The 6th installment is one of my favorites. After the Brazil mission, this is where things begin to take a much different turn. After learning that Letty is still alive, we get to see something quite interesting go on within this movie. One, Letty is not on the good side. Two, she's working for Owen Shaw, who is basically the main villain in this movie. Dom and Elena have built their own relationship now, Hobbs is still Hobbs, Mia had Brian's child and things are just different now. However, the threat of Owen Shaw and his organization brings the gang back together and they work together to try and bring him and his accomplices down. There's a double cross, a loss of a team member, and a reunion of Dom and Letty (Letty supposedly had amnesia after surviving her alleged death), and a respect given from Hobbs to Dom as well. Elena and Dom's relationship slows up at the return of Letty, and this ending of their relationship would prove to be much more vital than you'd imagined in future installments. Overall, this is a really solid action film, and with over 780 million grossed worldwide, it proved the franchise couldn't be stopped.

*Furious 7 (2015)

-The final appearance of Paul Walker in the film series was tough. After his untimely death during the shooting of this film, you knew this would be a tough film to get through and a successful one. The character of Brian would see Paul's brother stand in along with some CGI work so that his character got the proper send off. In addition to that, this film would see The Rock increase his importance to the franchise, as Hobbs continued his ascension to being a top tier character in this film. Jason Statham is here to fulfill his role as Deckard Shaw, seeking vengeance for his brother Owen from the last film. Overall, while this movie isn't as "good" as Fast Five and the 6th installment, it's still a really fun film and a bittersweet one due to the loss of Paul Walker.

*The Fate Of The Furious (2017)

-The most recent edition of the series, basically The Fast And Furious 8, might be the best of them all. The curveball thrown into this plot is that Dom has betrayed his family. Why? Well, I won't spoil that reason, but there's a legitimate reason for it, and he still doesn't necessarily turn his back on his entire family. If you thought the 6th and 7th installments were outrageous, you will definitely think that this one is ridiculous. Jason Statham is on the good side this time with a return as Deckard Shaw, and there's a lot of slight plot twists in this film that will have you on the edge of your seat. A once prominent character dies in this movie, and although I've probably given away more than I should, you probably won't expect or suspect it as the movie starts. Charlize Theron is good as the villain here, but it is a bit unbelievable that the most diabolical woman in the world is a white woman with braids (sounds like something Kylie or Kim K would be down with) and all these men are at her call (I know, I know, feminists rejoice in a female villain, but it's just not that believable). That aside, this is the essential action movie that you love: random plot twists, unbelievable turns and action moments, along with gunfire, things blowing up, and more. Also, The Rock is a superhero now. This film sets the tone for the next two final chapters, and with no Brian and Mia involved anymore, Deckard Shaw is a welcome addition to the group, if he stays a "part of the family" now. Which, you'll have to watch this movie to see how he earns their trust and respect. When it's all said and done, this movie changes the entire dynamic going for and because of that, it's a lot better than I expected. This film is set to debut with a huge 534 million global opening, making it the largest opening global weekend in film history. The franchise just keeps getting bigger and bigger.



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