I Watched All 7 Fast And Furious Movies In A Row
It seemed like a good idea at the time.
Like the internet and bird flu, the Fast and the Furious franchise seems to me like something that’s just always been around. It’s been more than a decade since the first film came out, and the latest installment — Furious 7 – hit Australian cinemas last week, bringing with it a different emotional gravitas: it is the last film of the series to feature the late Paul Walker. Also, Vin Diesel thinks it should win an Oscar.
Despite being in my early teens when the first one came out in 2001, until this weekend I had never seen a Fast and the Furious film. (Although I did tear out a poster of the gang from TV Hits and put it on one of my school books, but mostly because I was a fan of edginess and low-rise jeans.) And here’s another admission: I don’t know or care that much about cars. I don’t even own a car. I’m basically coming at this franchise with the level of relatability akin to, ‘Hey, I’m a human too!’.
With so much buzz around Furious 7, I decided to watch all seven in a row so I could experience the emotional arc in real time. I would watch six of them over one day, and the seventh the day after that.
My friends were totally on board.
Such a good idea!
SPOILER ALERT: There are spoilers ahead for those who have not seen the first six Fast and the Furious films. I will not spoil the last one, because I’m not an asshole. Well, I’m not an asshole about spoilers.
The Fast and the Furious (2001)
Um, this movie is great. Everything about it is great. If all of these movies are as good as the first one, I am going to have the best day ever.
First of all, it is the most 2001 thing that has ever existed – Ja Rule is in this damn movie! Everyone has flip phones! The tiny sunglasses! At one point Vin Diesel explains to Paul Walker, “You can find anything on the web”. And can we just talk about how handsome Paul Walker is, for a second? Man that guy is handsome.
No wonder Vin Diesel falls in love with him.
Also, I didn’t know about the whole robbers-on-the-side, Point Break thing! Although the car jargon is kind of boring (and the constant screeching is a bit jarring for 9am on a Friday morning), early on I just kind of accept things, like that having a laptop connected to your car makes it go faster. I don’t drive, how would I know.
Michelle Rodriguez is a sassy dream (Cara, I get it girl), and the racial diversity on offer is pretty great. So is all the intense butt-grabbing. I even like the unrealistic beverages consumed in this film – racers only drink Coronas and cops only drink decaf iced cappuccinos? Sure! I’ll take two!
“Dom is like gravity,” is a total summation of my mental state. I am moved by this film.
RATING: 10 out of 10 tank tops.
2 Fast 2 Furious (2003)
Still riding the euphoria of finally discovering my favourite film The Fast and the Furious, I went into the sequel pretty excited. Also, I knew that this was the one with Devon Aoki, who is cool as hell. Also, Ludacris! My favourite bit is when Ludacris announces the start of a street race and in the background people are dancing to a Ludacris song. The song is called ‘2 Fast 2 Furious’. Great.
I did a lot of Googling during this film, because without the core love story of Vin Diesel and Paul Walker I just wasn’t as engaged. Also, did you know that John Singleton directed this? Pretty cool. Did you know that Devon Aoki is Steve Aoki’s half sister? Crazy. I drank three cups of tea, a coffee and then my housemate made scones. I kept forgetting who the bad guy was.
This film does introduce the character of Tyrese however, a man so beautiful that watching him crash into cars makes me genuinely anxious, like watching the Mona Lisa being set on fire. Sometimes Tyrese takes his shirt off to punch through car windows, and I am not sad about it. One time he and Brian drive a car off the road and onto a boat in the middle of the sea. Also, Brian isn’t a cop anymore; he’s a famous street racer now. He runs people off the road in his car and says, “How do you like them apples!” Never change, Brian.
RATING: Five scones. Without jam and cream.
The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift (2006)
Prior to watching this movie, I had a co-worker explain to me what drifting actually means. “It’s HUGE in Japan,” he said, and then showed me a YouTube video. It looks fun.
This film isn’t as fun.
A Fast and the Furious movie without Paul Walker and Vin Diesel is like a scone without jam and cream: you can’t help but judge it by its potential to be so much better. It’s all about some teenager from Texas who is clearly 28, and who gets sent to Tokyo to escape the racing life. Then he meets Lil’ Bow Wow and is introduced to the local racing scene — which is sponsored by the Yakuza, because Japan.
In this universe, amateur racing is so ubiquitous that most conflicts are settled by street racing, from the school playground to the Yakuza headquarters. Literally any time anyone from any walk of life has a disagreement, they’re like, “Okay, okay, let’s just settle this with a street race” and everyone is like, “Yeah, that sounds reasonable”. It’s a racer’s world and we’re all just living in it.
I could watch Japanese teenagers dance in an underground car park for days, but this Texan guy is pretty humourless. He looks at the sushi at school and is like, “EW, WHAT’S THAT!”, like they don’t have a million sushi places in every city in the world. Urgh, this guy! Bow Wow and a guy called Han teach him how to drift, but then Han dies so ah, awkward I guess? I dunno. I’m getting pretty tired.
You can tell that time has passed since the last one because the teens watch the race on their flip phones (#2009 #Japan). Not even Vin Diesel showing up in the final scene makes this film interesting. I am beginning to dread the sound of car engines.
RATING: Like, three sushis. Out of 100 possible sushis.
Fast & Furious (2009)
The OG gang from my favourite movie The Fast and the Furious are back! Han, who died in the last one, is there! If I had known that the last movie was set in a different time, I would have liked it so much more.
Michelle Rodriguez and Vin Diesel go to a Dominican Republic dance party and wear entirely white outfits. What a couple of cool customers. Han talks about going to Tokyo. (NO HAN, NO! He really did live his life a quarter mile at a time.) WAIT, MICHELLE RODRIGUEZ IS DEAD. But she’s in the posters for the new one, right? Is it set before this one? These movies are great!
Paul Walker’s hair has changed, but he’s still real cute. He’s a cop again, so everyone hates his guts. He’s a pretty questionable cop too; his colleagues say things like, “You’re through, O’Connor!”
Actually, having watched three of these films in a row, I’ve started to get very confused about who I’m supposed to be mad at and have to Wikipedia the plot every so often. Pretty much the only things I can remember are a) racers still love to drink Coronas; b) everyone wants revenge on everyone; c) girls love to make out at racing parties; and d) car racing is still really dangerous.
I know I should be disappointed every time there’s a close up of a woman’s butt and not of her face, but honestly I’m just thankful that these movies have female characters who are strong, diverse and don’t always need saving. In action movies, that is not always a thing that happens. Even if they start off as just the girlfriend/sister, Fast and the Furious’ main female characters actually end up with a lot of agency. Am I intellectualising this too much? Maybe.
RATING: Seven bikini butts.
Fast Five (2011)
I finally manage to convince some friends to join me. “It’ll be fun! We’ll get pizza!” I promise over text, using as many car emojis as I can find. I need another human to talk to, because I am starting to think that maybe I have actually forgotten how to do that. I am also scared that I won’t have anything to say that isn’t Fast and the Furious related. When my housemate makes me scones, all I can talk about is how handsome Paul Walker is and how funny those decaf iced cappuccinos were. If it was 2003, I’d have been the most interesting conversationalist in the room.
We all debate Vin Diesel’s ethnicity, and cheer when Paul Walker drives into a train and then drives off a cliff. We cheer every time The Rock says anything, too. Watching these movies with other people makes you enjoy them 50% more, I realise.
I think I finally understand this franchise on a deeper level. I’m feeling real emotions for these characters! The casual racial diversity is giving me so many powerful feelings! It’s a franchise that truly rewards its fans; to appreciate it you really have to watch all the movies in the order they were released, because they don’t provide that much exposition. The best entry point is the first one, because Fast and the Furious really values loyalty. And family.
I wish I got invited to bikini parties in car parks. I think I’m starting to lose my mind a bit.
RATING: 8 Rocks.
Fast & Furious 6 (2013)
I’m so tired. This morning feels like so, so long ago.
This movie is good, but I keep accidentally mixing up the plots in my head. Luckily the plot of every movie is “cars”. I’m glad that Tyrese is back and that Michelle Rodriguez is not dead. It’s a bummer about Giselle. Why are they always motivated by plans that will ‘clear’ their criminal records when they always end up breaking a million laws to get to that point, and then always end up running away? Are the cars a metaphor? I’m so tired.
Hey, it’s The Rock.
RATING: What am I even doing.
Furious 7 (2015)
This marathon has taught me that, over time, Fast and the Furious slowly transforms into an Ocean’s 11 hybrid with more sexy sexiness and genuine emotion. I use the word ‘genuine’ specifically, because the sadness you will feel watching Paul Walker in Furious 7 is mad real. This franchise is all about family – a fact Vin Diesel reminds you in almost every scene in the last four films – and there’s something about watching all of these characters age together that is kind of touching. As the stunts get bigger (and more convoluted – you didn’t think it was just car chases, did you?), the bonds between the actors become more apparent too. It’s like watching someone’s home video of their family holiday, but with more explosions and making out on car hoods (I guess? I don’t know your family). In general, it’s so much more wholesome than I thought it would be.
I may have Fast and the Furious Stockholm syndrome, but I think I love these movies. I’m pretty sad about Paul Walker – my one-day intensive fandom resulted in some delayed mourning – and I already feel nostalgic about watching the first film. I was so young back then!
Also, I can’t believe there was a time in my life when I hadn’t experienced Michelle Rodriguez calling people skanks or Paul Walker and Vin Diesel eating BBQ together. I can’t believe I never knew what drifting was! Did I even know the meaning of family before this weekend? A lot has changed.
If Helen Mirren ends up being in the next one, I am all in.
RATING: 1000 Helen Mirrens.
Sinead Stubbins is a writer from Melbourne. She tweets at @sineadstubbins.