Your guide to the “Fast and Furious” franchise

Fast and FuriousBY NICK BYGRAVE (’15)

So. That street racing movie from 2001 that your older brother liked a lot has had six movies in succession. Six! The Godfather story was told in three movies and this one has taken seven, with no end in sight. Being the largest grossing franchise in Universal Studios history (valued at $5 billion), it is understandable that they will continue to exploit this film series.

With the trailer for “Furious 7” being released just last week, the anticipation for its April of 2015 release date is building at an astronomical rate. Not to mention the increased hype due to the tragic and untimely death of one of the most influential and loved main characters of the film, Paul Walker.

Will this seventh installment pay justice to the legend that Paul Walker has left behind? Who knows?

In the mean time, let’s go over what you need to know about the series before you watch the action-packed monstrosity of adrenaline and premium gasoline that Furious 7 promises to be. These are short because you should watch them yourselves.

“The Fast and The Furious” (2001)

We are introduced to a few major characters, such as Brian O’Conner (Paul Walker) an undercover cop infiltrating the L.A. street racing scene, Dominic Torretto (Vin Diesel) an ex-convict/notorious street racer/large bald man, and Letty Ortiz (Michelle Rodriguez), the love interest of Dominic and a street racer herself. We also meet Dominic’s sister Mia (Jordana Brewster).

Many, many ridiculous action sequences occur in this film – such as a semi-truck vs. Honda battle that surprisingly goes haywire – setting the mood for the entire franchise. An unnecessary street race finally between O’Conner in a Toyota Supra MKIV and Torretto in his iconic Dodge Charger (ending with the catchphrase “I owe you a 10 second car”) sent 20 year-old man-children bouncing off the walls with excitement, making a sequel possible.

“2 Fast 2 Furious” (2003)

This high-octane bromantic pile of garbage introduced us to a fourth important character, Roman Pearce (Tyrese Gibson)  a childhood friend of Brian O’Conner who had served jail time and is under house arrest. They are sent on a cliché mission to bring down a drug lord in order to clear Pearce’s record. Gratuitous car chases between incompetent police and the likes of a blingy Ludacris make this one for the history books. If you are thinking of seeing the series, this is one you can skip. Really.

“Fast and Furious: Tokyo Drift” (2006)

Now we’re talking. The completely revamped third installment includes new characters, a new location and an entirely new form of automotive buffoonery – drifting.

As trouble-maker Sean Boswell (Lucas Black) is forced to live in Japan after a street race ending in law-suits, he discovers the world of underground drifting, alongside rapper Bow Wow (remember “Like Mike?” Me neither.) Sean, with the support of drifter Han (San Kang), decides to race against Takashi (Brian Tee) aka D.K. (Drift King), and a less-than-brotherly rivalry begins.

Nearly entirely disconnected from the previous films’ plots and characters, this teenager-mindset perfect film is a classic for any kid growing up in the 2000s.

“Fast and Furious” (2009)

Good news! The original cast and some likable new members are back! Bad news! This movie is almost more of a drama than a no-holds barred display of vehicular pornography.

That being said, it is a welcome and enjoyable return of the original crew. O’Conner is looking into another drug lord called Arturo Braga who sells heroin. Braga fleas to Mexico, things blow up and other things happen. Some spectacular cars are introduced, noticeably a Nissan Skyline R34 GTR and a Subaru Impreza WRX STI, both driven by Brian.

This installment is enjoyable enough, but the real thrill of the forth installment comes from the simple fact that Brian and Dom are back. Oh yeah, and Dom is sent to life in prison.

(SPOILER! LETTY DIES! Yeah, dramatic)

“Fast Five” (2011)

Alright, now this is serious. The return of multiple characters, a ridiculous heist, insane cars used as tools of destruction and the addition of none other than The Rock himself. “Fast Five” took the franchise to whole new level.

Having flown to Rio de Janeiro, they decide to steal some cars that happen to be in the possession of DEA agents. The agents get killed by a drug lord called Reyes, and Dominic and Brian get blamed for the murders, resulting in Agent Luke Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) to come after them. The crew decide to steal the drug lord’s money (a cool $100 million) and start a new life.

This installment is a genuinely exciting, different and well done action thriller, completely revamping the series from its boring and dramatic fourth movie.

(SPOILER! LETTY ISN’T DEAD! Yeah, dramatic)

“Fast and Furious 6” (2013)

Where “Fast Five” was a near perfect blend of gratuitous action and automotive hooliganism, “Fast and Furious 6” was a just a bit too much.

After the success of the heist in Rio, the entire crew come out of retirement after discovering that Letty isn’t dead and in fact working for an English Special Forces Agent, Owen Shaw (Luke Evans). Under the guidance and permission of once-enemy Luke Hobbs, the crew attempts to thwart Shaw’s illegal activity while trying to get Letty back.

This movie has so many over-the-top and ridiculous action sequences that it is borderline laughable, if undeniably enjoyable. One particular scene involving a cargo plane, a dozen cars and seemingly the world’s longest runway, is especially unbelievable.

A fun action thriller that takes itself too seriously, “Fast and Furious 6” seemed as good a finally as any. But they didn’t think so.

Conclusion

As an often-criticized fan of the series, Paul Walker’s death hit home harder than expected. That being said, it is time for Warner Brothers to hang up the tattered and worn “Fast and Furious” cape. But that won’t happen until they can’t get a single cent more out of it.

One of the most influential and exhilarating aspects of millions of teenage boys’ adolescence, including my own, the “Fast and Furious” series is an undeniably fun and worth-while cinematic pastime and will continue to be for decades. No matter how ridiculous and forced it concludes.