Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw is now in theaters and it is a bonkers action movie that brings the street racing franchise into soft sci-fi territory and a step closer to their inevitable movie set in space. Who would have thought back in the early 2000s that a franchise that started with petty criminals and street racing would one day introduce superhuman cybernetics and a programmable virus? With the franchise’s first spin-off (unless you count Tokyo Drift) feeling like such a departure from the early years of the Fast & Furious movies, let’s take a scroll down memory lane to see how we got here.
The Fast and the Furious (2001)
Remember when the Fast & Furious franchise was little more than a rip-off of the 1991 bro-tastic Point Brake, only with muscle cars instead of surfboards? Neither does anyone working in the Fast & Furious franchise, apparently. Anyway, this one follows LAPD cop Brian O’Conner (Paul Walker) who goes undercover in the world of illegal street racing to find the mastermind behind the very serious highspeed heists of several DVD players off moving 18-wheelers. During the course of the investigation, Brian begins to fall for street racer Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) and his sister Mia (Jordana Brewster).
It is a bromance for the ages, and the movie introduces several key players to the franchise including Dom’s girlfriend Letty Ortiz (Michelle Rodriguez) and lays the groundwork for Dom and Brian’s incredible driving skills and ability to pull off heists on fast cars which is the heart and soul of the Fast & Furious franchise.
2 Fast 2 Furious (2002)
Arguably the absolute best title for a movie in this franchise, but also arguably least important movie in the franchise in terms of it moving the story and tone along to bring us closer to cars in space. After all, Vin Diesel doesn’t even show up! Instead we have Tyrese Gibson and Ludacris as Roman and Tej, respectively, who have bigger roles in later movies.
This movie does have a scene in which Brian and Roman drive a car off a ramp and land on a moving yacht in what Roman describes as “some real Dukes of Hazzard shit.” It’s outlandish, impossible, and very cool-looking, but it also shows that the franchise is eager to go bigger, bolder, and into the realm of superheroes, where the laws of physics no longer apply.
The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift (2006)
The absolute best movie in the franchise, Tokyo Drift doesn’t do much in terms of bringing the film closer to the superhero genre, nor does it have stunts as elaborate as in latter films, but it introduces the concept of drifting into the franchise and helped popularize the culture in the West. Most importantly it gave us the best character in any Furious movie: Han (Sung Kang), whose full name is Han Seoul-Oh (really).
When it comes to moments that make you forget about the laws of nature or physics, Tokyo Drift is pretty grounded, with the exception of the race through the streets of Tokyo, which includes driving right through a very much crowded intersection in Shibuya, where the cars never even slow down but the crowds are able to quickly react and make space for two cars to go through (and everyone goes on about their business). This is the movie that first expanded the world of the Fast & Furious franchise and opened it to a globetrotting audience.
Fast & Furious (2009)
After 2 Fast 2 Furious and Tokyo Drift showed audiences don’t need to have the entire team together in one movie, or even be set in the US, Fast & Furious takes us back in time after the Tokyo detour and finally puts together the team we now know and love, and also sends us on our first international mission.
Tej, Roman, Dom, Mia, Brian, Letty and Han are all back (the last one being very much still alive), and we are introduced to Gisele (Gal Gadot). This is the odd film that is in-between the trilogies of the franchise. The first one, 2 Fast, and Tokyo Drift make for a relatively concise trilogy about street racing, gangs, and bromance. Then Fast Five, Fast & Furious 6, and Furious 7 constitute the big international and high-stakes espionage saga with physics-breaking stunts that also follows Brian and Mia starting a life together and leaving crime behind. Then there’s the so-called “last” trilogy that started with Fate of the Furious and ends with the tenth and final movie.
While Fast & Furious doesn’t have the big globetrotting mission, it still has our characters going from the Dominican Republic to Panama City, to Mexico, and of course, Los Angeles. Its stunts pale in comparison to the next four movies, but this one still paves the way for the elaborate craziness thanks to an off-the-wall opening scene where Letty hangs from a fuel tanker as Dom and the gang steal it, until something goes wrong and Letty has to jump to Dom’s car, then drive away under the spiralling body of the exploding tanker at the right exact second or fall down a cliff. It’s the promise for over-the-top, completely bonkers, and absolutely thrilling excitement that the later movies will deliver with ease.
Fast Five (2011)
Can you smell what Hobbs is cooking? Get ready for the movie that took everything we knew about the franchise and cranked it up to 11. By now we know Dom and his team are able to take down a drug cartel, so why not go full crime thriller and have them rob a powerful Brazilian crime boss and steal $100 million by dragging a bank vault through the streets of Rio de Janeiro? Where Fast & Furious built the foundations of the team using their cars for something other than racing, Fast Five asks “why did we show racing at all?” as Vin Diesel’s Dom now has a crew big enough to fill in a professional sports team, and gives the film has as many heists as Heat. Caution and physics are out the window and absurdity is now the special of the day. Honestly, the franchise is way better off this way.
After the previous movie ended with Dom being sent to prison and Brian and Mia on their way to rescue him, Fast Five starts with them moving to Brazil to steal cars for a living. After a bonkers train heist sequence involving sports cars running in the desert better than any 4×4 and Dom and Brian being able to drive a burning car off a cliff and somehow survive the fall, the team discovers that one of the stolen cars has a chip with drug delivery schedules and the location of $100 million belonging to the aforementioned crime lord. What are they to do but steal it with the help of Roman, Gisele, Han (still alive and kicking), and Tej, who somehow went from owning a car repair shop into becoming a tech genius and expert hacker. This movie also introduces half of Hobbs & Shaw as Luke Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson), an agent for the Diplomatic Security Service, and local Brazilian officer Elena Neves (Elsa Pataky) are tasked to bring Dom and his team to justice.
The stunts and fight scenes in Fast Five make all previous Fast & Furious movies look like they were made by children. Dom is not only bigger and stronger now, but goes toe-to-toe with Hobbs as they throw each other through several concrete walls without so much as a scratch. This is the movie that takes our little team of DVD-stealing drivers and turns them into criminal masterminds capable of hacking into the strongest security systems on Earth, and also do any feat of strength or skill as long as they’re driving cars. Did I mention they drag a bank vault through the streets like it was covered in butter? Making it bounce and roll like a ball? They do.
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