How did we get here? Sixteen years ago The Fast and the Furious was the type of mid budget film that we don’t see much of these days. It cost around $40million to make and took just over $200million at the worldwide boxoffice. Certainly enough earn a sequel, but seven ever growing sequels, did anyone see that coming?
The Fast and the Furious (2001): The modest (in comparison to later films) movie started out as a magazine article “Racer X”, about groups who got together to illegally race customised Japanese cars late at night on New York streets. The story was expanded by adding the plot of Point Break with Paul Walker and Vin Diesel taking over the Keanu Reeves and Patrick Swayze parts.
2 Fast 2 Furious (2003): Leaving the rest of the original cast behind, and sticking with Paul Walker’s undercover cop. This film introduces Roman Pearce (Tyrese Gibson) and Tej Parker (Chris “Ludacris” Bridges) who become mainstays of the later films. Roman starts out as s tough ex-con, in later films he has become the comic relief of the series and not the tough guy. The budget nearly doubled that of the first film but the boxoffice was only up a fraction.
The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift (2006): Dropping the entire cast of the first two movies (almost). Looking everyone of his 24 years, Lucas Black plays a 17 year old high school student sent to live with his U.S. Navy officer farther in Tokyo. There he gets involved with drift racing and the Yakuza. Although Black does make an apearence in a later film he didn’t become part of the “family”. Han Lue (Sung Kang) however, did! For reasons that you will understand if you have seen the film, the introduction of Han into later films needs a little crow-baring to fit the continuity. Vin Diesel returns in a cameo pointing the way forward. The weakest performing movie both taken as overall boxoffice and return on investment.
Fast & Furious (2009): The “family” are back together, original cast members Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Michelle Rodríguez and Jordana Brewster all return and are joined by Sung Kang in his second film. The film also introduces new family member Gisele Yashar played by future Wonder Woman Gal Gadot. Following the dip in performance the fledgling franchise was experiencing, the budget did not go up from the $85million spent on the previous film, and when adjusted for inflation was actually less than the $76million budget of the second film. It took nearly $365million, over double the previous film.
Fast Five (2011): Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Sung Kang and Jordana Brewster all return, as does Gal Gadot, Ludacris and the new more comic version of Tyrese Gibson return from the second film. The turning point of the franchise where things stated to get sill also saw the introduction of Luke Hobbs played by Dwayne Johnson and Elena Neves (Elsa Pataky) who has a significant part in the latest film. I am not sure if Universal made a conscious decision to turn the franchise into a high octane heist movie. I am not sure if they have ever confirmed or denied it, but the was a suggestion it was based on a script that started out as a sequel to the Italian Job remake (2003). It is totally ridicules, but great fun, probably the high watermark for the franchise. With the new direction the studio backed the franchise with a budget of $125million. They were rewarded with a boxoffice of nearly $600million.
Fast & Furious 6 (2013): Continuing the globetrotting high octane heist movie of Fast Five the “family” are back on the right side of the law for a while. All the main cast from the previouse film return along with Michelle Rodriguez whose character Letty Ortiz returns from the dead. Gina Carano also join the cast possibly for the sole reason to fight with Michelle Rodriguez. Luke Evans plays villain Owen Shaw with Jason Statham appearing in a post credit sting as his brother. The budget went up to $160million and returned nearly $800million.
Furious 7 (2015): Following the events of the previous film, the “family” are back home in LA having being given amnesty for their past crimes. Until Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham) shows up after revenge for what happened to his brother. This is all mixed in with a convoluted plot about a computerised McGuffin. Don’t worry Kurt Russell is on hand as Mr. Nobody aka, Basil Exposition to explain everything. Nathalie Emmanuel joins the family as Ramsey, a British computer “hacktivist” who is integral to the McGuffin. The cast also features Djimon Hounsou, Tony Jaa and Ronda Rousey. By far the biggest movie of the franchise so far, the budget had swelled to $190million but the world boxoffice exceeded $1.5billion, or to put it another way ten times what Tokyo Drift made. It is ranked 6th in the all time world boxoffice (before any adjustments for inflation), it was the third highrst grossing film of 2015 coming behind Star Wars: The Force Awakens and Jurassic World but beating Avengers: Age of Ultron, Spectre and Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation. It isn’t all good news, as has been well publicised, Paul Walker was killed before the end of production
The Fate of the Furious: And so we come to the eight film in the franchise. There was certainly a gear change at number five, but the series hasn’t so much changed, but it has evolved or morphed over time. While placing the first and the most recent films alongside each other in isolation would look strange, the transition makes sense in a bonkers Hollywood way. Charlize Theron is the main antagonist Cipher, a little like Blofeld in Spectre is revealed to be behind everything, not quite, but you get the idea! In the franchises biggest Retcon, bigger than bringing Letty back from the dead, Jason Statham’s Deckard Shaw is now a good guy. No bad thing, as he is the best thing in the movie, closely followed by Helen Mirren playing his mom. Yes, I did say Dame Helen Mirren as The Stath’s mom, complete with an “alright gov’nor” cockney villain accent. I have made a bit of a joke about the “family” in films, this is because it is the ongoing theme of the movies, the thing that keeps this group together is that they are a family. However who is left of the ordinal family? Brian O’Conner (Paul Walker) has obviously been written out. Mia Toretto (Jordana Brewster) is mentioned but is now with Brian and their own family, so all that remains of the original family is Dominic Toretto and Letty Ortiz.
What next?: No post credit stings to show us the way, Charlize Theron’s Cipher is still alive so expect her back, but what of the Toretto Family?
- Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel)
- Letty Ortiz (Michelle Rodriguez)
Long term members:
- Roman Pearce (Tyrese Gibson)
- Tej Parker (Chris ‘Ludacris’ Bridges)
- Ramsey (Nathalie Emmanuel)
- Luke Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson)
Possible future members:
- Eric Reisner / Little Nobody (Scott Eastwood)
- Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham)