Fast & Furious: A Crash Course

I like movies about cool cars, so I was surprised then Furious 7 arrived, and I had never seen any of the previous 6 movies.  So, before seeing 7 in the theater, I needed to watch six movies!

All the movies are about guys (and the occasional girl) who race tricked out cars in illegal street races, and the team who helps them.  Sometimes they are against the law, sometimes they work with the law.  Sometimes the bad guys become good guys, sometimes the good guys become bad.  But through it all, they are family.

The cars are always cool, the girls at the races always wear skimpy clothes, the stunts are always impressive, and the cast always seems to have lots of fun.

The Fast and the Furious (2001 PG-13), directed by Rob Cohen

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Los Angeles.  Lots of body shop time, with cars up on lifts, and the risk of the race is emphasized, but no fatalities.  We meet the team who helps Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) win the races, and helps Dominic rob trucks loaded with freight.  How else do you pay for these fancy cars?  Brian O’Conner (Paul Walker) wants in, but really is an undercover police officer trying to stop the crimes.

At the end, one of Dominic’s crew is gunned down, and when chasing the killer, Dominic rolls his dad’s car.  This was very painful for me to watch!  Most people walk away from the crashes in the movie, but it was nice to see that Dominic was shaken and in pain and unable to use his arm after the terrible crash.  So it hurt him to wreck such a beautiful car, too!  Brian the cop gives him his own car so he can escape.  Watch to the end of the credits to see where Dom ends up.

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Five of these characters appear in other Fast & Furious movies, one is dead by the end of the first movie, and the other two simply aren’t there anymore.  From left:  Matt Schulze, Michelle Rodriguez, Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Johnny Strong, Jordana Brewster, Rick Yune, Chad Lindberg

2 Fast 2 Furious (2003 PG-13), directed by John Singleton

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Miami.  Street races pit foreign cars vs. American muscle cars. This movie has the first race fatality, and it is meaningless. Brian is no longer a cop, and is street racing in Florida.  He is needed again to go undercover, and he asks for an old friend/enemy to be released from parole so he can help him.  Roman Pearce (Tyrese Gibson) and Brian get over their differences quickly, and the two actors seem to truly have fun together in this movie (ad libbing was allowed).  Paul Walker is getting a bit old (he’s 30), yet the wardrobe department still has him dressing like a punk kid.

Keep your eyes open at the beginning – the Universal Studios logo starts to rotate, then spins and chromes out to become a wheel – cool!  In the first race, four cars are lined up, and each driver in turn looks at Brian – a very awesome shot.

The pit crew characters are interesting.  FBI Agent Bilkins (Thom Barry) is back again and puts a grounded hand on the undercover work, in a nice contrast to the other federal agent characters, who act all hysterical.  Monica Fuentes (Eva Mendes) is undercover.  Just because she is a girl doesn’t mean that she fall for Brian.  But she does.  Why doesn’t she fall for Roman?  They both race cars and talk big. No one important dies, and Brian and Roman steal just a bit of the drug money to help them open an auto shop of their own.

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Only one character was in the first Fast & Furious movie. Three of these characters are in future Fast & Furious movies. The other two just stay in Florida and I miss them.  From left:  Tyrese Gibson, Paul Walker, Devon Aoki, Jin Auyeung, Ludacris

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Bad guy Cole Hauser and undercover agent Eva Mendes hang out in a mansion formerly owned by Sylvester Stallone.

The Fast and the Furious:  Tokyo Drift (2006 PG-13), directed by Justin Lin

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Tokyo (obviously).  Culture shock in high school.  Japanese mafia.  Skidding cars sideways instead of straight racing.  Japanese race girls dress skimpy, just like American race girls.  Teen Sean Boswell (Lucas Black) gets sent to stay with his Navy dad because he races illegally at home.  So, he immediately finds the illegal races in Tokyo.

All Fast & Furious movies have unbelievable parts to them.  You chose to ignore them and enjoy the movie.  But this one had unbelievable aspects that were too glaring to miss.  Lucas Black is 24, and looks nothing like a high school student.  American Sean has no difficulties driving on the wrong side of the road – it isn’t even mentioned.  There are mechanics and pit crew, but only once do they mention how the tires are damaged by drifting.  Why don’t you ever see new tires being put on?  Why does the gangster allow the whole movie to be decided by a race?

And why does the best character in the whole movie die?  And how does Dom show up at the end to say this dead guy is ‘family’?

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Just because he has a back pack, doesn’t mean he looks like a high school kid. From left: Lucas Black, Shad Moss

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The girl. And the boy, who happens to be the best villian; a conflicted, loyal, mean, intimidating bad guy boy friend. Nathalie Kelley and Brian Tee

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Neither of these characters were in the first two Fast & Furious movies. Only one of them is in future Furious movies. From left: Sung Kang, Lucas Black

Fast & Furious (2009 PG-13), directed by Justin Lin

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What a minute – Han is alive after all!  He’s in the Dominican Republic hijacking fuel trucks with Dom and his girlfriend Letty (Michelle Rodriguez)!  Also new on the crew are Spanish-speaking friends Leo (Tego Calderone) and Santos (Don Omar).  Han (Sung Kang) finishes the job, then says he will go to Tokyo.  Don’t take the car, Han!  You’ll kill yourself!

Los Angeles.  Races through tunnels just to sell video games.  Computer databases that are realistically slow, used for a plot device.  No real pit crew to get to know.

Brian did good in Miami, so the FBI have him again investigating crimes committed by racing cars.  Letty is killed, Dom infiltrates the same car crime gang.  But Dom hates Brian because he’s a cop.  And because Brian broke his sister’s heart.

The best scene is when Dom and Brian, both undercover for different reasons, are at a party with the crime boss and try to pretend they don’t know each other.  Funny dialogue!  And watch – two animated cars race through the closing credits, one is Dom and the other is Brian.  Who will win?

Dom pulls his dad’s car back together, just to wreck it in another race.  They sure wreck a lot of cool cars in these movies!

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One of these bad guys becomes a good guy in future movies. From left: Vin Diesel, Laz Alonso, John Ortiz, Gal Gadot.

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Fast Five (2011 PG-13), directed by Justin Lin

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The opening credits are a gift to movie fans!  Each character that is back gets highlights shown of their previous adventures with the Fast & Furious franchise!

Rio de Janeiro.  Dom’s team is made of everyone we know from previous movies.  Computer databases that are unrealistically fast, used for a plot device (Han’s full name is Han Seoul-Oh. His other car must be a Millennium Falcon). The first F-word (thanks a lot, Dwayne Johnson.)  Hundreds of Dodge Chargers made into Rio cop cars, just to be wrecked.  Brazilian race girls dress scantily, just like in America and in Japan.

The team is happy to see each other again, and to meet the members who were in episodes that they were not in.  This time they steal a huge safe and drag it through the streets.  A totally unrealistic stunt, but really fun to watch!

Agent Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) shows up to fist fight Dom.  I wonder what the testosterone level was like on the set that day?

Stay to the end of the credits.  Eva Mendes returns (in a totally unprofessional business outfit) to show Agent Hobbs that Dom’s girlfriend Letty is really alive!

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Vince is back, and living in Brazil. (Far left, Matt Schulze.) One of the team wont survive this movie.

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Santos and Leo are also back (from left Don Omar, Tego Calderon). But they run off with their share of the profit, and are never seen again in Furious-land.

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Both will be in future Furious movies, because Dom needs a new girlfriend, since his died in movie four, and Dom needs someone to fight. Elsa Pataky, Dwayne Johnson.

Fast & Furious 6 (2013 PG-13), directed by Justin Lin

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London and Spain.  Girl fist fights.  Boy fist fights.  London race girls in skimpy clothes.  The second F-word (totally unnecessary, Tyrese Gibson.)  A surprise team change.

Han hasn’t made it to Tokyo yet, so he is still on the team.  Brian and Mia have a baby boy, so Dom is an uncle.  To find Letty (his formerly dead girlfriend), Dom calls on his friends/family to help.

The team is tighter.  Most of the races and chases are at night, which make it difficult to follow the action.  A cool tank chase, and the longest runway in the world chase.

Letty has amnesia, and shoots Dom in the shoulder, which he simply shrugs off (at least sit down when you pull the bullet out of your own chest!)  If Letty is back, what about Dom’s Brazilian girlfriend?  She gives up too easily.

If Letty is alive, then maybe Han will actually survive Tokyo!  Watch through the closing credits, and you see the next movie bad guy walk away from Han’s burning car.

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Agent Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) is called “The Samoan Thor”, “Captain America”, and “The Hulk”. Riley (Gina Carano) can hold her own in any fight.  One does not survive the film.

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My favorite parts are when the team interacts together, and plans together. Not all survive the film.  From left: Sung Kang, Ludacris, Gal Gadot, Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Tyrese Gibson.

Now I can go see Furious 7!  Which Furious movie is your favorite?

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Filed under Fast and Furious, Movies

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