I finally watched a couple of Fast & Furious movies. Even though the upcoming film is called Hobbs & Shaw, I do know they are a F&F spin-off, and was curious about WHY WHY WHY there are all these movies out there about fast cars and criminals? Why these are movies so popular?
I adore action films, but am not automatically into the whole ‘root for the villain’ thing. Some may have a ‘heart of gold’ — but Dom and Brian had not gelled yet in the 2001 story, so I was like, “Meh.” Neither were close to the anti-hero levels of Han Solo or Robin Hood…and certainly not Malcolm Reynolds (from Firefly/Serenity). Or even Diesel’s own beloved Riddick character from Pitch Black. Not yet.
At this point, these dudes were just testosterone-oriented criminal adrenaline junkies in LA.
And as for driving fast, I used to flash people in San Diego driving down the 805 at 100 MPH over the Mission Valley interstate bridges…but grew out of that after college and a few very expensive speeding tickets. (My boyfriend had a convertible and we thought we were immortal, and I have a cute butt…it made sense at the time, but was frankly stupid).
So at the tender age of 50, I just watched F&F 2001, and was appalled. Here’s a bunch of criminals doing totally unsafe things that should kill bystanders. With women dressed in almost no clothes, saying they will do sexual acts with racing winners they don’t even know, and behaving far more sluttily than my innocent butt-flashing highway moments ever were.
I watched this, which was essentially a movie of the video game Grand Theft Auto, and thought exactly this: “???”
Why was this popular enough to spawn a franchise that will be 9 movies long by 2020, and how did I never see any of these?
I can’t say. The original F&F 2001 had an ending that was ambiguous at best. I can appreciate that as a bold choice, but since the movie had almost no plot, it didn’t feel earned. It’s 75% racing, 10% sexy stuff, and then the story picks up the scraps. I guess driving dangerously fast didn’t interest me any more.
I was more involved in Star Wars, Harry Potter, Jurassic Park, the Marvel movies, and, of course (to me) the Lord of the Rings. (And now you know what geekhoods I love best.)
It actually took watching the 2009 (the 4th) film, which follows up exactly where the first movie leaves off, to get me on-board.
Finally, the movie came together. I’ll say the best thing — if you’re still new to the franchise — is to watch 2001 and 2009 as one movie. Back to back. That makes one decent story and serves as a fine introduction to what comes ahead.
2009 cut down on the ‘male gaze’ aspect immensely, to my relief, I guess. If I wanted to see that kind of female behavior, I’d find some porn. The men keep their clothes on on F&F, and their clothes are not skin-tight either. Why can’t we see some male flesh? Oh jeez. I’m barking down a well. (It’s not like I need to see that, but it would at least be fair. I still like butts.)
So, why do the women have to be essentially naked if the directors want half the population to watch their films? So, yes THANK YOU that the women, seven years later, are allowed to be real people and not simply male decorations. I say this understanding that the few women racers were also bad-ass…but they were still totally hot and dressed to show it. This was off-putting. How is this relatable?
But back to the Fast & Furious origins storyline:
If I was baffled by the appeal of the first movie (Vrooooom, vrooom, NOX, boom!), I liked where things continued in 2009. The Mexico borderlands sequence was an incredible nail-biting experience (but still felt like a video game, granted). And the Brian/Dom relationship was allowed some space to unfold, finally. It wasn’t just trading insults from hate (it was trading insults from bro looooooove).
I like adrenaline too, but mine is legal and low key: rock climbing, cave rappelling, plane jumping, traveling solo in foreign countries, bungie jumping, sword fighting, backpacking, and aerial acrobatics. It’s not like I’m a boring person. But I dress for comfort, not to attract men. I think I was spoiled by being an Outward Bound instructor in my younger years. I was valued and admired for my outdoor skill set and leadership ability, not for cleavage and sexual taunts.
Probably you want me to shut up on all this. So I’ll get back to the plot.
RunPee Dan wrote an extensive and very helpful article about the entire series. Granted, he skipped a few films, but these are arguably worth skipping, based on both the Rotten Tomatoes Meter, and RunPee Sis’s definitive recommendations (as a F&F UBERFAN). (Seriously.)
Sooooo, what should you watch to get started with the Fast and Furious oeuvre?
Like I said, I think 2001 and 2009 should be viewed back-to-back as one film. 2009 picks up right where 2001 leaves off and flows seamlessly together. Both are exciting (but 2009 is just damn better, okay?).
I’m going to make a judgement call and say they are one good movie, but only when viewed together.
Everything changes after the 2009 film, with the 2011 addition of Dwayne Johnson — AKA The Rock — but that’s not important for now. 2001 and 2009 are the important bro foundation between Dom (Vin Diesel) and Brian (Paul Walker), and their love for…well, driving really fast. They bond. Bonding is good, right?
I will say Vin Diesel definitely has the charisma to anchor a franchise. (Really. Watch Pitch Black, please. And, lest ye forget, he’s also Groot.)
I’m reliably told the story gets more ‘heroic’ in subsequent iterations. So I’ll be watching to see the inevitable Vin vs Dwayne mano a mono fight (I love them both, even if they are…well…fungible.)
BTW: Apparently Vin and The Rock really, REALLY dislike each other. Does anyone know why?
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Co-Creator of RunPee, Chief of Operations, Content Director, and Managing Editor. RunPee Jilly likes galaxy-spanning sci fi, superhero sagas, fantasy films, YA dystopians, action thrillers, chick flicks, and zany comedies, in that order…and possesses an inspiringly small bladder. In fact, that little bladder sparked the creation of RunPee. (Good thing she’s learned to hold it.)