It was June, 2001. America was going through a boom time. The housing market would never fail, the presidency of George W. Bush was going well, everything was going gangbusters in the land and nothing was going to change that. It was a time of optimism. Of hope. Of being able to go 200 MPH down Los Angeles streets with no threat of cross traffic.
Director Rob Cohen’s The Fast and the Furious was exactly the right movie for the time: loud, colorful and fast. Pretty people, pretty cars and the movie gave exactly what it promised. More to the point, it was fun. There wasn’t a lot to think about, but for a summer movie, you usually don’t want to ponder the state of man’s relation with the planet. You want to set back and watch a spectacle, and the movie delivered.
The movie came, made it’s money, found a home on video, and that was that. Except that it wasn’t. The next film, 2 Fast 2 Furious, came around in 2003, and, personally, seemed a little lacking from the earlier film. Of course, thinking back to 2003, everything seemed a little lacking from the boom times, for a lot of different reasons in our culture. Well, it was a sequel for a film that did well at the box office. Of course they were going to make it. The fact that the “new” had worn off and that it only had one person returning from the previous film (Vin Diesel was keeping his options open at the time) didn’t help matters.
Then came the third film, The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift, in 2006. Coming three years after the previous film, and five years after the original, it seemed a bit of an odd duck. Adding in the fact that there were no returning characters (except for a brief cameo at the very end) made it a hard sell. But, there was an interesting undercurrent running through this film. They weren’t selling the story of certain characters, but they were actually selling the idea of “Fastness” and “Ferocity.” A lifestyle, if you will.
After the third film, we figured that was probably it. Three films. One trilogy. But the director of the third film, Justin Lin, wasn’t done, and in 2009, Fast & Furious hit the screens. This film had a difference, though. All the main characters from the original film were back (Vin Diesel apparently deciding that open options were overrated). Then, in 2011, Fast Five came out, continuing their story, and this year’s Fast & Furious 6 rounded out the second trilogy.
So, stop to think about that for a second. Six movies. Two trilogies. Not a lot of film franchises can pull that off, and, more astoundingly, the Fast & Furious franchise is, arguably, getting better (again, if you don’t enjoy this type of film, that’s a moot point, but these films have never been put up as great art, but as good fun). Unlike another twin trilogy franchise out there that I won’t mention (I will say, however, that no character in the F&F films says “Yippee” in any way, shape or form).
So, for the past 13 years (!), these films have been part of the filmgoing culture, and with Fast & Furious 7 set to come out next year, that streak will continue. So, I decided to sit down and watch them all, just to see what would happen. I’ve recorded plot points, and then my thoughts on what I’ve just seen.
This is the Quick and Angry Project.