If you’re like me, you’ve been waiting for April 3, 2015, since June 22, 2001. Why? Because Rob Cohen’s original The Fast and the Furious movie got you so hot and bothered, you needed six more to cool down. Or maybe you’re worthless and haven’t taken the time to watch all of them in order in preparation of Furious 7, which you’re probably on your way to right now. Fret not, I’m just lonely enough to go ahead and recap for you. Just to save you about 13 boobless hours of Vin Diesel’s exposed arms, legendary ass shots, screeching metal loud enough to upset your mom, and instantly dated soundtracks. Look, you can bitch and complain and watch your poignant mumblecore films while scoffing at anyone who’s seen any Fast movies, but it won’t phase us. Why? It’s not like we think these are actual amazing, groundbreaking works of cinema, we know exactly how bad they are - perfectly bad. But let me tell you something: Lars Von Trier, Paul Thomas Anderson, Francis Ford Coppola, Stanley Kubrick, Woody Allen, David Lynch, David Fincher, Alejandro Inarritu, Terrence Malick, or 99% of your favorite filmmakers will never come close to creating a franchise worth $2,383,471,428. So get off your horse, appreciate a feat when it’s accomplished, and make the best out of the worst.
Now, to the recap. Just so you know what to expect, this isn’t your average plot line recap because I’m pretty sure not a single person knows what the hell that is. No, I’m going to go over the things you loved about the Fast franchise, the lines you quote, the shit you actually talk about, and what each movie has that separates it from the batch. Most importantly, I’m going to do it short and fast because this is the fucking Fast and the Furious. Get your Creatine, let’s do this.
The Fast and the Furious (2001) – The first one.
This one will always be my favorite simply because the director’s commentary is one of the best ones I’ve ever heard - he literally talks through the whole thing without pausing, so you can tell he loves it and it shows. He’s the one director of the franchise to know exactly what kind of movie he’s making, and made it the best that he can because of it (but fucked up the rest of his career immediately with the Mummy 3, XXX, Alex Cross, and The Boy Next Door). So in this one, we have Paul Walker as an annoyingly pretty surfer boy (changes each movie), a hip-hop-centric soundtrack and aesthetic (changes each movie), and our first glimpse at a new style of shooting cars. Rob Cohen has said that he approached the races as if he were directing Star Wars (add 23482 points to this movie) by making the cars feel like ships in a space battle. Yes, go back and watch it and you’ll see it totally shows. But most importantly, this movie introduced us to the wonderful world of Vin Diesel one-liners, seeing as he never really speaks a full sentence. “You never had me, you never had your car.” Say that quote in a gym and you’ll gain 89 new friends. But what really makes this movie special and addictive? It’s the cast and the director and writer’s ability to control such a massive ensemble cast. They each get their arcs, their moments, their one-liners, none of them go underused, and you can’t help but feel like you’re friends with them.
Worldwide Box Office: $206,512,310
2 Fast 2 Furious (2003) – The one with way too many loud colors and a villain that’s trying super hard.
2 soon 2 rushed. Everyone who talks trash on the Fast franchise is really just talking shit on 2 Fast 2 Furious. It set up the cliches and the terrible rep that wouldn’t be fixed until three movies later. So this time, we got Paul Walker as a bro instead of a surfer boy, a Latino-inspired soundtrack and aesthetic, and a complete absence of Vin Diesel. Even though they bumped up the budget, he looked at the script, looked at the director, looked back down, back up, said, “Nah,” and hopped on XXX with the director of the first Fast movie. But that’s okay, they instantly replaced him with the slightly more toned Tyrese Gibson. Anyways, this movie fucked it all up. “It’s a ho-asis in here,” is an actual quote from that movie. The whole film seems too safe, it takes itself too seriously, and unlike the first, it doesn’t add anything to the shooting of racing movies. But it does do one thing right: introduce Ludacris and Tyrese. Hell, even the domestic box office income dropped from the first one, but the studio execs are no fools. They noticed revenue pick up overseas, leading them to literally push the franchise out of America and in to Tokyo for one, final try at this series.
Worldwide Box Office: $236,220,058
The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift (2006) – The one with Bow Wow, Asian women (finally), and the ultimate badass, Han.
Ah yes, the fan favorite, The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift (read my Shut Up & Watch walkthrough of Tokyo Drift here). Let’s not dance around the fact that the real reason this one even remotely works is because of Han. Just look at his hair, the way he’s always eating those peanuts or whatever those are. He’s a national treasure, an international lady killer. But Tokyo Drift features a song that I believe says Tokyo in it a few times, a lead that has a hick accent to make sure there’s not too much culture (he’s also supposed to be in high school, but the fucker’s pushing 34), Bow Wow never actually doing anything at all, some unavoidable Yakuza references, and, of course, our first look at drifting. When you’ve already established a good way to show white knuckle speed, what do you do to move forward? You hire newbie director Justin Lin to tackle the world of drifting. “What’d you expect? You didn’t just play with fire, you soaked the matches in gasoline.” Just look at that fucking Han quote, take it in. But let me wrap up - the whiny bitch of a villain races our hick hero down a hill that only the villain has made it down before. This, of course, after a montage of Han watching our hero learn how to drift. We see the lead guy’s dad kick out a crying hooker (that actually happened), the villain get hilariously disgraced in front of his Yakuza uncle, and the lead gets the girl. But not really. Nothing really ever happens with them. For real, watch it, there’s a hooker that’s crying and nothing really happens with the lead and the girl.
Worldwide Box Office: $157,794,205
Fast & Furious (2009) – The one you have to sit through to get to Fast Five.
Did you know this has a prequel short film called Los Bandoleros? Whatever, here’s why this movie happened - Universal convinced Vin Diesel to show up in the end of Tokyo Drift, which immediately got a sea of meatheads ready to pump iron with excitement. Basically, Vin Diesel hops back on board as an extremely dedicated producer, pretty much makes it, gets everyone back on board, and saved the franchise from going straight to DVD. So, this movie is the start of another trilogy. I honestly don’t remember who the villain is, just that it’s glaringly clear there’s some tension between the two leads here. So it’s the first movie all over again. But this one features an epic Paul Walker opening, a newly-suited and clean Paul Walker character, back to hip-hop soundtrack, some fresh one-liners, thousands of cars, and finally had the gull to kill off a lead, Michelle Rodriguez. Which gives way to the most hilarious scene of the movie: Vin Diesel being detective Dom and somehow figuring out exactly how she died with no more than an over-the-shoulder glance. Detective Dom! But, of course, the one thing this movie did right was later nullified when they bring Michelle back with fucking amnesia. Amnesia! Most importantly, this is the movie where they started to get the tone of the franchise right (finally), added better gunfire, fist fights, and stopped begging to be taken seriously. Still probably one of the worst Fast movies. Oh, this one gets you all excited with the return of Han, but then he’s gone just as quick as he showed up.
Worldwide Box Office: $363,064,272
Fast Five (2011) – The best one without question. Because The Rock.
Finally! We’ve made it to the best one. Director Justin Lin hits it out of the park with Fast Five. The franchise finally gives in to the fans, bends over, and shoots a few gallons worth of steroids into itself. You got the fucking rock coming in, consistently covered in a healthy glaze of oil, Michelle Rodriguez is still dead as shit, the world becomes okay because Han is back, a Brazilian setting, no more trying not to be misogynistic, the most epic set piece involving a safe tethered to Vin Diesel and Paul Walker’s car, Paul Walker is still suited and pretty, and it’s just the perfect tone. Ah, remember when Han was driving off with his new gal pal, Gal Gadot, on his lap without looking even at the road? Just being Han? Classic Han. Speaking of Gal Gadot, she’s our new Wonder Woman, yet everyone’s still upset about Ben Affleck as Batman. I’m sorry, but Gal can barely form a well-acted sentence, but she’ll probably look pretty good wearing the suit? Oh, what’s that? It’s a new, shitty suit that looks like fucking Xena? I got off track. Hey, they brought Vince and Tyrese back, making it official - there’s no one left to bring back. But seriously, the best move they did was bring the Rock in. When did he get perfect at acting and how much do you think they paid him to lose a fight to Vin Diesel? Well, either way, the Rock beat out Vin’s one-liners so it’s okay.
Worldwide Box Office: $629,927,766
Fast and Furious 6 (2013) – The one with the tank and the airplane. You know what I mean.
Fast and Furious 6 was so damn close to being as good as 5, but it didn’t quite cut it. You can see the difference in the first scene, when the Rock is walking across a rubble-filled bridge - the rubble and the whole set seems a little too perfectly staged. It’s nitpicking, but it’s a good metaphor for what’s lacking in the whole film. Not to say this one’s bad in any way, I mean, they were smart enough to bring back the Rock and have him team up with Vin Diesel. Like a person who got fucked too good, the Rock can’t stay away from Vin. I guess that’s how behemoths fall in love; getting beat up. “Not bad for a cop.” “I never thought I’d trust a criminal.” Can’t you just see them standing straight up, looking into each other’s eyes, and barely mumbling those lines? The testosterone is palpable. Wait, why am I not talking about the tank? There’s a fucking tank on this never-ending bridge and, somehow, they take that shit out with a few cars. They really used a real tank, and it’s not even the final set piece. The final set piece is an epic fight in a plane where they kill my personal favorite villain of the series right after my least favorite, Gal Gadot. But this one did make enough money to justify a new Universal Studios ride and about 79 future movies.
Worldwide Box Office: $789,952,817
Furious 7 (2015) – The one you’re on your way to right now.
One last ride. Until the next 3 movies. Yes, I saw it last night at the Chinese Theatre in IMAX and let me tell you, it’s exactly what you expect and nothing more. Sure, I could go on and point out that it took too long to get to the first action set piece, it was sappier than a soap opera, Jason Statham just wanders into each scene, they keep every small character which convolutes the plot, and Vin’s looking bloated. But come on, you don’t give a shit about that. We got cars fucking parachuting from a giant plane, KURT RUSSELL, the cowboy from Tokyo Drift shows up, the Rock’s even shinier, 4 action set pieces instead of 3. L.A. somehow gets destroyed in a race, JASON STATHAM (who was the last thing missing from the series), the most epic opening shot of all time, Tony Jaa beating the shit out of Paul Walker, and Michelle Rodriguez VS. Ronda Rousey. But for real, it’s the first action sequence after parachuting from a plane that’ll get you rock hard. That entire sequence is up there with any of the other films, maybe even above. It ends with Paul Walker running up a falling bus, jumping, and grabbing onto a speeding car - while every single ass in the theater is clenched shut. I don’t want to give anything away, but see it immediately if you like the franchise. And see it in a packed IMAX theater because the crowd cheering, laughing, and throwing popcorn through the air is what makes the whole thing unforgettable. And yes, you’ll be laughing and having a good time until, out of nowhere, you find yourself choking back tears because you forget about the Paul Walker tragedy amidst all the excitement. There are basically two homages to Paul and, at risk of sounded like an asshole, the first one is awkward and almost ruins everything, but the second one hits hard.
Worldwide Box Office: To be determined. But it’s been out for one day and already has a whopping $15 million.