Fast follows Dom Terretto and friends… oh right… he doesn’t have friends… “follows Dom Terreto and FAMILY” as they race cars around:
LA, Miami, the world… wow, that escalated quickly.
Fast became/is becoming exactly what we do and don’t want out of a series that used to be about street racing, ended up being about heists and is now about …what exactly?
Due to some plans on the horizon in which we are going to begin talking about some of my favorite things (and now sadly, LEAST favorite things) that aren’t movies and comics, allow me the soap box to give a quick spiel on VIDEO GAMES (it relates, I swear) and no, this isn’t my “here’s my quirky theory and take on The Furious Franchise." The other one is still coming within the countdown itself, and i'll sum it all up for you at the bottom.
Anyway, back to Furious, and vidya games...
I see a glaring comparison to another franchise that I’m a super fan of, but again, one that has everyone split. I speak of none other than “Saints Row”. Saints Row was originally a shameless Grand Theft Auto clone knockoff, that offered a more mature and R-rated GTA experience. The second game amped everything up, took no prisoners, and even allowed you to make the most nefarious gangster that ever lived… <Gasp> a woman!
I plodded through and finished GTA IV. I didn’t/couldn’t platinum it, and I had no desire to.
Then, the clouds parted and the Saints shone down. Saints Row the Third – the then most divisive entrant into the series - was everything that the different schools of fandom either wanted or feared. For me, it made video games FUN again. It poked fun at the super greedy and lazy corporate culture video games had become and it continued a VERY different story.
I mention this series, because Fast Five became “Saints Row The Third”.
Then we went to Tokyo…or we didn’t? I’m only gonna say a very little bit about that one, as Jim will undoubtedly cover it. (Yes. YES I WILL. - Jim) I’ve heard he’s like the “Justin Timberlake of writing about Tokyo Drift” or something…
We returned in form with the full group with a little movie I like to call, and somehow the marketing geniuses didn’t- “Fourious!”
Fourious reunited the original cast and crew and really tied the franchise together. We didn’t really mention “Tokyo” except to bring in “Han” who…died in the previous movie…right? Oh! That makes this a prequel then right? Fourious had a darker more real story. One of the most “beloved” (or so they KEEP telling me) characters was dead! Dom and Brian needed to set aside their differences, race cars, work together, and find a common ground between Justice and Vengeance. This one definitely has my favorite ending, as Brian makes a hard choice and the outcome is left up for debate.
Fourious was the Saints Row 2 return to form we all needed, where the Boss and more importantly the Saints were back.
It’s Fast Five, aka Saints Row the Third, that really leaves an exclamation point on the series. “FANS” love Fourious, just like “Fans” love SR2. Triple A/box office whores ate up Fast Five “with the Rock!” and Saints Row The Third more than any other title in either franchise. The two respective installments have more than an “off the rails over the top wacky hijinks ensue” type relationship.
For those that have lived under a rock and haven’t seen Fast Five – the movie that dragged a safe with a hundred million dollars through South America- or haven’t played SRT3- the game where the Saints, the baddest FICTIONAL gang that ever banged “sold out” and became corporate whores who lost their way- here’s a quick run down:
In Fast 1 and 2, we are introduced to the “Family” - Dom the streetwise tough guy leader with a heart of gold and tendency for psychotic homicidal murder; Letty - his on again/off again girlfriend version of that, Mia - his sweet sister with a dark streak, Brian, a good guy cop with a penchant to be a street-racing bad boy who really likes to JUMP JUMP, Vince, Jesse, and uh the rest. 2 Fast brought in the Roman - Brian’s womanizing Miami counterpart, and Tej, Ludacris, if he was belittled for his height, had a nappy afro, and organized illegal street races. They were caracitures and stereotypes of a sort, but they were “believable” people within this reality. There’s growing seeds planted that Dom might be “more than meets the eye” but we’ll get to that in my other article.
Saints Row and SR2 more importantly introduced us to the Player/Boss (Dom), Pierce - essentially The Roman, Shaundi - essentially Tej, Johnny Gat - who is most definitely Han, but he doesn’t exist in the Furious timeline at this point - and a few others we don’t care about.
Saints Row the Third and Fast Five see these same people dramatically change into sellout cartoon characters of their former selves. The Roman went from a street tough to the black James Bond, as Pierce went from a rising Lt in the Third Street Saints to a jet setting black James Bond king of one-liners and misogyny. Tej went from the reefer blinder little dude calling out races and collecting purses to the uptight world’s greatest hacker/Oracle much like Shaundi before him (maybe after, I dunno when SR3 or Fast Five came out, and it’s not important for me to interrupt my thought process and look)
Each respective installment added new characters and personalites and each installment went more and more off the rails.
Johnny Gat in Saints, was for me the first indication that the Saints timeline was eclipsing the Furious one. This excites the living shit out of me, as the last/last two Saints Row games went from “a super heist/feuding with a Mexican Wrestler supervillain” to “entering the Matrix, becoming President of the United States, being locked in a holiday Christmas special, becoming a superhero, journeying to hell, traveling through time riding dinosaurs, and marrying the daughter of the Devil after whipping his ass. Oh…and there’s a 16 bit Streets of Rage parody level when you’re not partnering up with Roddy Piper in They Live.
Yes… all of that happened. If it excited you like it should have, and you have no idea what I’m talking about, I implore you to run out and get SR3 and SR4/Gatouttahell for ps3, ps4, xbox360, xbox1, whatever you gotta do. Used, these games are like less than 20 bucks!
I can’t wait for time-traveling street racing, Lost City of Atlantis finding Dom and co. on their “one last ride into space” by the time of “The 9” or “Fast X." This series has only one place left to go from here, up… as in into space. I guess it could also go under water…or through time…maybe across dimensions…let’s just start the countdown. And yes, I will be including the “short films” on the special edition dvds. You should own those/watch those… except for the first one. It’s fucking terrible.
I’m removing the years of release, as they don’t make sense in the timeline which takes place “a little bit into the future."
9. Los Bandoleros
8. Turbo-Charged (Prelude)
7. The Fast and The Furious: Tokyo Drift
Drift isn’t a great movie. It’s not even a good movie. Putting it in the timeline doesn’t/didn’t make sense, and when taking it as a “part of the whole” it would actually be much worse.
I’ll do two explanations on this one. One as its own movie with a “like” title, and one in the timeline.
On its own: Drift follows wannabe street-racer “Sean,” who is sent to live in Japan because his dad is stationed there. He befriends Han while trying to impress a girl and gets himself into a “Driftititon” where he promptly gets his ass destroyed by the Yakuza. Because the Yakuza doesn’t directly kill anyone in this movie-verse, (not on purpose anyway) they not only let him be, they agree to let him train with Han and challenge them again at any time. This movie falls apart for a number of reasons for me. I’m being meaner than I should/than I said I would, but I know Jim will sing the opposite praises.
Firstly and most importantly, the car guy in me would be remiss if I didn’t address the opening scene:
Sean races Zachery Ty Bryan (thanks Internet, for telling me it was Zachery with an “ery”) for his “girlfriend” in a street race through construction zones and up and down hilly terrain in Arizona or California…or somewhere. Sean is driving a beautiful suped up 1971 Monte Carlo. He knowingly calls out Ty Bryan’s “daddy’s Viper.”
Two things here. If this movie is taken within timeline, it either still takes place in 2006 or it takes place anywhere from 2005-2009. As Dom loves to say “American Muscle wins every time."
That’s all well and good, but it’s also dependent on "driver, course, or what's under the hood," and the fact that the Monte Carlo wasn’t a muscle car, it was marketed as luxury. The thing has about 240 HP up against the 2006 Viper, a fucking monster with 500HP. I’m all for driving stick and classic cars, but in a matchup of automatic 2006 american that goes “vroom fucking vroom” vs a 1971 luxury “race car” that Viper wins 10/10 times so long as the driver can make the wheel go “spin” and the pedals go “push."
The next flaw with the movie is the setting. It’s one of those “does this REALLY need to be in another country when the conflict is so universal?” type deals we’ve seen time and time again in classic shitty sequels like: Rise of Taj, Home Alone 3, Three Men and a Little Lady – ok, at least this one went to Japan.
A quarter into the movie, they realized that only likable character (who is on a path of pointless self-harm/destruction that makes ZERO sense w/o the timeline) is going to die…so let’s pretend that didn’t happen. Han’s motivations of “stealing cause why not?” create the main and only conflict of the movie. The Yakuza doesn’t even “really” kill Han timeline or not, so aside from the final third act climax race, they’re nonessential to the flick as a whole.
And of course the scene with the guy in the bath. It’s something worthy of Cinema Sins in terms of “starting a convo here and waiting till darkness/next scene to finish there.” This is cartoonishly unforgivable, as Sean walks into the sauna to get Han’s money from the man with the “paw." We see both Sean and the man wrapped in towels because it’s a bathhouse/sauna… in the next shot, a fully dressed Sean is tossed out of the bathhouse by the man who then reaches for a money roll to pay Han anyway. What the fuck happened here?
I recently found out from one of my favorite reviewers, Chris Stuckman, that the scene in Casino Royale of Eva Green crying in the shower after being attacked/involved in a self-defense killing, originally called for my future ex wife Eva, to strip down to her skivvies and hit the shower. Daniel Craig had the brilliant/realistic foresight to say “assholes, she JUST killed someone for the first time and is traumatized! You really think she’s gonna care about stripping down to her PG-13 bra and panties? No, she’s not. Now get me another drink!”
Things like this can absolutely make or break a movie as far as I’m concerned. Here is how the scene in drift likely played out:
Sean asks for the money, the PAW man rises from the tub intimidating him. He then laughs revealing he’s good friends with Han and was just fucking with Sean due to his appearance and physically imposing nature. He tells Sean that he will pay him. Sean gets changed and waits for the man. As the man goes to pay Sean, he says “let’s give Han a good show” the two then create the plan to toss Sean out in the street in front of Han giving the illusion that the man roughed him up. And that would have been creative, playful, and a clever misdirection showing that Sean was “evolving” – like when the Terminator reaches into the overhead mirror to grab car keys instead of smashing the steering column to hotwire a car. Having Sean pull out the money roll and say “gotcha!” to a look of Han’s relief/bemusement would have advanced the story and their dynamic beautifully…instead, the man waits for Sean to get dressed and then kicks his ass? It doesn’t make ANY sense and never comes up again!
Finally, after spending the movie with Sean, watching as Han died, the final scene/race has the “surprise” Dom cameo in which he promptly beats Sean.
People went to see this movie NOT knowing about the cameo and being genuinely blown away, which was admittedly cool, but to stay with this kid through the entire movie, watch him grieve for Han and then sacrifice it all in favor of fan service/promoting the 4th one… it’s just a kick in the balls.
As per use, I said a shitload about the movie I didn’t really like.
6. 2 Fast 2 Furious
What this means is that it does everything you’d expect from a cheesy over the top sequel:
- changes setting or venue
- amps up the conflict from the first movie
- offers a new love interest/making no mention of the original
- brings in a partnership, new character, or both
- seems to take itself much less seriously
- does stupid and wacky shit like defying gravity or boats
oh… well played 2 Fast, well-played indeed
There’s no much to say about this one except this is where we got Tej and the Roman. You’re welcome! Also, 2002-2004 Eva Mendes… hell yes pls.
5. Fe7en (Furious 7)
Furious 7 is what I like to call a “good starter vehicle." Granted, it’s the 7th (or 6th…at least 6.5th) main series movie so it can't really be a “start,” but it’s a definitive “starting point” to a changing of the guard in the formula and a new direction for the series.
One of the most modern Saints-Rowiest installments, Fe7en expanded on the beautiful and glorious concept first adopted in Fast Five that “all fights should involve a car, take place in a car, and should feature cars." What this means is that if a character swings a fist at someone, they either need to turn into a car… or at the very least land on a car. Constructing a final battle street fight in a multistory parking garage featuring two men hitting each other with cars (both behind the wheel and picking them up and throwing them) is fucking genius. For a lot of people, it’s their favorite movie. So why is it so low on my list? It’s too much, and doesn’t know where to unpack all of the parts. It’s a GREAT start, but not quite there yet. Fe7en took “fighting with cars” and amped it up to “EVERYTHING with cars.” It’s like a James Bond movie that goes all over the world but never leaves the car/Bond’s bottom half is a car-centaur or “Centcar” (seriously, linkedin, AND Twitter) and the plot is “fucking stupid."
Dom and Fam are looking for a device to find Jason Statham, but literally everywhere they go, Jason Statham appears, like a sinister version of the Full House opening lyrics.
Getting back to Saints Row or “mission based games," Fe7en is literally the best (I’m thinking unintentional, but who knows) depiction of “mission assigned video game parameters” I’ve ever seen. What does this mean?
If you’ve played literally almost any single player triple A video game between 2001 and present day, GTA (might not have been the first either) popularized a system in GTA III, in which you would travel across an “open world city” to a marker where a cutscene would play and your character would be given a mission by a contact. You could always drive past the “mission contact locations” w/o interacting with them, but once you arrived, cutscene and mission.
This is set up at the end of Fast Six, and plays beautifully here. From Dom’s mom’s house, to Safar in Abu Dhabi, to Kurt Russel later on, it’s like “mission marker to mission marker. This is what a Furious Video Game would look like. Why don’t we have one of those?”
This is also the final and latest entry in my theory, but I haven’t addressed it yet, so keep scrolling for that one.
Everyone is in full “Wacky Saints” mode, Bryan is jumping off of moving shit, defying gravity. Roman and the guys are jumping cars out of planes. Letty is starting to remember who she is…maybe…if you haven’t seen it, why are you here? We have a few new players added to the Fam and the best villain in the entire Fastchise! Also, the Rock, flexing out of his cast…. I mean COME ON, this is AWESOME!
Then there’s the ending… oh man, it gets me every time. I’ve come to terms with how it even fits into the story and how we likely wouldn’t see Brian or Mia again. It really was their “one last ride." I just hope time-traveling alternate reality Little Jack shows up as a street-racing teenager from a dark future by the time “The 9” when Uncle Dom and co get back from Atlantis.
4. Fast & Furious 6
2. Fast Five
1. The Fast and the Furious
You never had me, and you never this list, Fast Five. My heart belongs to the first one.