With the recent release of Fast & Furious 8, it dawned on me that I haven’t actually seen any of the previous films. So, what better way to put this right, than by binge watching the whole franchise in one week, so I could watch the latest installment on the big screen.
Rather than go into great detail over these films, as there are so many of them, I’ll instead just give a short summary of what I thought of each one. So on Tuesday, I kicked off #fastandfuriousweek (unfortunately that didn’t start trending despite my constant tweeting of it – feel free to also check me out over on twitter).
The fast and the furious (2001)
I have to say, I was a little disappointed with the opener. I went into it kind of expecting this to be insanely action-packed most of the way through. However, I found this a little flat. Yes there are some action scenes, and some cool street racing, but it didn’t really get all that exciting for me until the last 20 minutes, but then the film is over. The basic storyline follows undercover cop Brian (Paul Walker) who gets involved with Dom Toretto’s (Vin Diesel) crew whilst trying to bring down some truck hijackers. What this film is good for though is setting the scene for the franchise. We meet a few of the characters who will appear throughout the franchise and the ending leaves it wide open for more films to build on this. Even if we don’t really get the true sequel until the fourth movie.
2 fast 2 furious (2003)
The second film in the franchise see’s Brian now relocated to Miami and wanted by the FBI following his actions in the first movie. Vin Diesel steps out for a little while, but instead, we get introduced to franchise mainstays (and one of my favourite characters) Tyrese Gibson playing Roman Pearce, Brains partner in crime and Ludacris as Tej, an ex’street racer friend of Brian’s. Obviously looking to lay low Brian gets involved in the Street Racing scene and is inevitably caught, but offered a deal to help the FBI out and receive a pardon (a running theme throughout the films!).
This film seemed to get going a lot quicker, and for me, there was much more to enjoy in the way of fast cars and action sequences of which I was expecting from the first installment. This is a follow on from the first film, but not a true-true sequel (which we get later in the franchise), but there are throwbacks to the first film and references that help to and backstory to relationships in this movie, and again ultimately set up the new characters for the rest of the franchise. In a not so often occurrence, a stronger sequel than the original movie.
The Fast and The Furious: Tokyo Drift (2006)
Now, this certainly isn’t the best film in the franchise, however… it is the one I was most pleasantly surprised by. As I went into this one expecting it to suck. No Paul Walker, no Vin Diesel (again!), no Tyrese Gibson, no Ludacris. Basically, none of the original characters. But, I stand corrected and this is actually an enjoyable film in the series.
This film sees’s troubled high school kid Sean out of chances, and to avoid juvie is instead sent off to live with his estranged father in Tokyo, with strict rules to stay away from cars. Of course, he doesn’t do that, and instead get’s involved in the drift racing scene, and mixed up with the Yakuza. A slight move away from the type of street racing we’ve seen in the first few movies, and no influence of law enforcement, whilst very similar this movie differs from the rest of the franchise. However, of course, all differences are settled behind the wheel of the car.
Not the best in the franchise, but still plenty of fun, and race sequences to keep us happy, and a welcome introduction to another mainstay character Han (Sung Kaan). We also get a tease of a return of Vin Diesel in a post credit scene. I was tempted to skip this one but didn’t as wanted to complete the whole series. And I’m glad I didn’t.
Fast & Furious (2009)
This one is a little confusing, to begin with as firstly we see Brian back working for the FBI, without that much explanation how after his antics in number 1, and then again in number 2. And secondly, we have the return of a crew member which tells us that the previous film does (Tokyo Drift) doesn’t fit into the chronology of the franchise as we may have first anticipated. However through the next few films mentions of Tokyo are made quite consistently, just to remind us.
As I mentioned in the summary of the first film, it isn’t until number 4 that we seem to get a real sequel to the The Fast and the Furious. Both Paul Walker and Vin Diesel are back for this one, to clash once again after the first film set us up perfectly for this to happen at some point. I just didn’t expect us to have two other films before we got to this. I enjoyed this one while watching it, however now, only a couple of days after watching it, I’m struggling to remember anything key from this one.
Fast Five (2011)
I was on a tight schedule to fit all these in, as part way through the week I realised I needed to finish by Friday to avoid having to take a day off from the binge. So I actually got up at 6 am to watch this one before going to work. I was worried I was just gonna fall asleep again and miss a lot of it, but it was such rip roaring fun all the way through, that didn’t prove to be a problem.
This was perhaps one of my favourite installments for a number of reasons. One being the introduction of Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. I’ve always been a big fan of The Rock since growing up with WWF, and happen to think he’s also not a bad actor. This film also marks where Brian is actually a full member of the crew and not actually a cop anymore. Possibly the biggest reason though is that this is the film in the franchise the filmmakers seem to have finally accepted what these films are – utter ridiculousness. But that isn’t a criticism. I like that they are ridiculous, it’s what makes them so much fun!
Fast & Furious 6 (2013)
Good guys join the bad guys, who are actually good guys we want to root for. The good guys who are chasing them are actually bad guys, but wait! They’re now joining the bad guys )who are actually good guys) to hunt a real bad guy, who is an actual bad guy. Confused?
With a film franchise that has been running so long, and continues to use the same characters, I guess it is inevitable that their roles change as the story progresses. The crew just can’t seem to get away, everytime they seem o be home free, they are brought in for “one last job” (which we know is gonna keep happening until we’ve hit at least 10 films). I think this film has perhaps some of the craziest sequences of all 8 films, with my personal favourite involving a tank, a bridge, and an incredible diving save. Sheer madness. This film was definitely embracing the franchise’s insanity.
Furious 7 (2015)
Fast 7 is a strange one, as most people will be aware, Paul Walker actually died for real in a car wreck whilst the film was still being shot. This almost lead to the film being scrapped, but instead was continued without Walker and cleverly edited to be finished and give the character a fitting send-off.
There has also been a large running theme of Family throughout the series, but this film leans heavily on this, for obvious reasons. This film is almost more abut the relationships of the crew rather than the action. But that doesn’t mean this film still wasn’t a lot of fun and filled with crazy car action, as it certainly was. My summaries are getting very similar now, as in fairness, all of the films are pretty similar, however, that doesn’t really take away from the enjoyment.
The fate of the furious (2017)
So, here I was, a challenge that started on Tuesday, now sitting in the cinema to complete the 8th film on Friday. The latest installment this time see’s Dom (Vin Diesel) caught up in having to betray (kind of) his family and work for the bad guy. Once again we see past bad guys joining the crew to become good guys, a
It is clear from watching this latest film, and indeed as the franchise has progressed, that these films are a far cry away from its street racer origins. Although we see one race right at the very beginning, that’s it and the rest is an out and out action film which involves cars. And now it isn’t just cars. We’ve got planes, tanks, snowmobiles, even submarines. This is perhaps the most far-fetched story so far – seemingly each film pushing the limits of sanity a little bit further each time.
You’d think by now the franchise could becoming a little stale, but to me it didn’t feel that way. Yes all the films are slightly similar, but it doesn’t matter. These films are abut switching off and just enjoying them for what they are. Or perhaps I was just on a high from so much car action in 4 days. Who knows. All I know is I really enjoyed this one as well. And if you’re a fan of the franchise, you have to go see it. And if not – why not binge watch them all in 4 days, it’s doable!
So, now the week is over, I’m not really all that sure what to do with myself. It was one hell of a thrill ride for a few days, and I’m definitely glad I did it.
A few things I have learned from the films…
1. Whenever there is a street race, seemingly there is always a disco happening at the same time
2. If you want to commit a crime, just be so good at it that the FBI need your help to catch others so you can keep getting away with it
3. Ride or die
Predictions for Fast & Furious 9 – definitely got to involve a spaceship, I don’t think there any other “vehicles” left!
Wow, what a week! #fastandfuriousweek