Here’s a short resume of each of the films:
The Fast and the Furious directed by Rob Cohen:
Let’s cut to the chase…the car chase. This is all about the cars and the action. Nothing else matters, so discussing any other aspect of the film is rather useless. The cars are cool and the stunts are impressive. Fans of that sort of thing will enjoy it.
Los Angeles police officer Brian O’Connor (Paul Walker – The Death and Life of Bobby Z, Flags of Our Fathers) has a decision to make. A tough one. He has been assigned an undercover assignment of infiltrating the L.A. underground street racing scene and finding out who is behind it in order to bring about a stop of it. The police want to stop it because they suspect Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel – Guardians of the Galaxy, Riddick) of using his street racing team to commit electronic truck robberies.
It is all good until Brian become really seduced by the racing and falls under the sway of the thrill and danger of it all. Plus there is the matter of his falling in love with Dom’s sister, Mia (Jordana Brewster – Home Sweet Hell, The Faculty). He has to decide who he will be loyal to.
2 Fast, 2 Furious directed by John Singleton:
Here’s a movie filled with scenes of hot sun, hot babes and best of all, hot cars. The sequel to The Fast And The Furious boasts a mean collection of ferocious hot rods. Like the title suggests, this movie is fast: a blink of an eye could mean missing out on an entire race sequence. Credit should definitely be given where deserved, namely to the special effects department. The Floridian backdrops for this film are perfect, but even more so are the digitally crafted scenes complete with vivid colors and surreal graphics.
However, this movie is far from innovative. It’s a typical ‘badass’ movie. The cast is an odd selection of characters, starring Paul Walker and model/singer Tyrese, and rapper Ludacris and supermodel Devon Aoki with secondary roles. The plot lacks substance, as it appears to be an excuse to show off sweet muscle cars. For example, there is no apparent reason why this bunch of drag racers get caught up in a drug bust, other than to pump up the thrill factor of the movie. This an unrealistic story, right down to the 50+ grand dollar cars these characters just happen to own, is pure eye candy and should not be overly analyzed.
2 Fast 2 Furious is no better or worse a movie than The Fast And The Furious. Fans of the first installment will surely enjoy the second. This film will also appeal to anyone into fast cars and racing.
The Fast and The Furious: Tokyo Drift directed by Justin Lin:
I guess due to the lower expectations you have when you go into a film like this, the fact that it was not too painful is a victory for the makers of the film. A hollow victory, it must be said. This film is the third installation of the Fast and Furious series of films and I have not truly (or even partially) enjoyed one yet. The films really have nothing of interest that I can see for women. They are the opposite of chick flicks. It is full of testosterone, fast cars and hot women. That being said, Tokyo Drift is the best of the bunch.
An interesting choice was made for the director of this film. Japanese independent filmmaker, Justin Lin (Annapolis) is brought on board as director and he gets some points for style in this film. Besides the obvious shots of cars and car racing there are many nice-to-look-at scenes of Tokyo in this film. Moving the story to Tokyo was a wise move as it is an interesting city to watch on screen and is the birthplace of off-road racing.
The script is obviously secondary in a film of this type, but even so there were so many clichés uttered that my head was spinning by the end. Acting is also not really all that important, but Sean Boswell is actually much more interesting in his role than Paul Walker was. The cars are still the focal point in the film and the many racing scenes coupled with ear popping sound testify to that. Lin has made sure that the scenes involving the racing are nice to look at and are loud. The film is about fast cars and hot women and if you accept that then you will be happy with Tokyo Drift.
Despite its over-the-top nature and cheesy dialogue, if you liked the Fast and Furious films then you should be quite pleased with this one. Oh yeah, keep your eyes peeled for some interesting (or not) cameos in the film.
Loner Sean Boswell (Lucas Black – Slingblade, Jarhead) has gotten in trouble with the law due to his penchant for the illegal and dangerous activity of street racing versus his nemesis rich kid Clay (Zachery Ty Brian – from television’s Home Improvement). He is shipped off by his mother from California to Tokyo to live with his father, who works for the military. Despite these good intentions, Sean gets caught up in the Tokyo underground street racing quite quickly. He makes the mistake of speaking to the girlfriend, Neela (Nathalie Kelley – first film) of D.K. or the ‘Drift King’ (Brain Tee – Fun With Dick and Jane, Austin Powers in Goldmember), a gangster who is involved in street racing.
Street racing in Tokyo has been made ‘slightly’ more interesting and dangerous by the fact that they engage in ‘drift’ racing. Drift racing involves high powered cars which slide around corners or hairpin turns in a way I thought only possible in video games and requires the driver to have heightened powers of concentration.
Boswell, who does not know about D.K.’s ties with the Japanese gang, loses the first race and as a result has a debt to pay off to them. Boswell makes friends with Twinkie (Bow Wow – Like Mike, All About the Benjamins) and Han (Sung Kang – Antwone Fisher, Pearl Harbor), who show him how to survive in Tokyo and drift racing. The grudge between the two men is to be settled in a final high stakes race.
Fast and Furious directed by Justin Lin:
Nothing surprising or different in the fourth installment of this film series. If you liked the first three you will like this one. If you didn’t then don’t bother. It is all muscles, women and fast cars once again. The action is fast and furious while the story is dumb and dumber.
Con Dom Toretto (Vin Diesel – The Pacifier, Babylon AD) has escaped from prison and made a life for himself in the Dominican Republic robbing trucks. He decides to come back to Los Angeles, at a great risk to his freedom, to seek revenge on the person responsible for the death of his ex-girlfriend, Letty (Michelle Rodriguez – from television’s Lost). She was killed by evil drug dealers led by a guy named Braga.
Returning to LA brings him back in contact with the agent who infiltrated his gang before he was arrested, Brian O’Connor (Paul Walker – Flags of Our Fathers, 2 Fast 2 Furious). O’Connor is after the same drug dealers as Dom and so they decide to work together.
When the actors are inside their cars everything is good in the world, but when they step outside it is almost laughable. The two leads, Diesel and Walker, do what is expected of them, but it still isn’t enough. They are totally overshadowed by the cars that they drive. The whole format of these films has become quite stale four in.
The story is very thin, but I guess we shouldn’t expect anything different from this genre of film. The purpose of these types of films is to wow us with the action and it is good. Director Justin Lin (The Fast & the Furious: Tokyo Drift) makes you feel like you are right inside the car. It really gets the adrenaline going.
Fast and Furious 6 directed by Justin Lin:
The highly successful “Fast & Furious” franchise is already up to its sixth installment, having entertained audiences around the world with fast cars & impressive action sequences. Fast 5 was solid on many levels such as the script, cast, directing, pacing of the story and pretty awesome action sequences, so part 6 has some pretty big shoes to fill. The return of Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) propels the story another step forward and sets the stage for the long awaited reunion with her true love.
Dom (Vin Diesel) and his team left off in Fast 5 with a ton of money and went their separate ways. Agent Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) recruits Dom, Brian (Paul Walker) and the rest of the team to dismantle a rival crew run by Owen Shaw (Luke Evans), who steals a component that could be used in terrorist activities. The motivating factor for Dom is the revelation that his ex-girlfriend Letty is alive and working with Owen. His determination to get her back puts his life and the lives of the people that he cares about under serious threat.
Fast & Furious 6 is grittier than number 5 and is less centered on the showy cars. The story about the character of Owen Shaw and his motivations could have been a bit more developed as the story around him was a bit confusing at times. On the positive, the reunion of Vin and Michelle is memorable. Their on-screen chemistry brings another dimension to the film. Ludacris and Tyrese resume their respective roles and once again bring some humor to lighten things up.
The scenes with the plane and the car chase with the army tank make an impression but they do not quite match the amazing scenes with Vin and Paul driving their cars with a massive vault attached through the streets of Rio in part 5, nor that daring escape from the train. Despite some of these points, F&F 6 is still quite entertaining and one hell of a ride. Once again, director Justin Lin did a great job. Fans can rejoice, because after viewing this film, you can look forward to a seventh installment next year, as production is already underway with action star Jason Statham joining the cast.
Furious 7 directed by James Wan:
You have to know that no matter the quality of this film that fans will flock to see it. With the death of series regular Paul Walker towards the tail end of the filming it brought an almost reverent aura to Furious 7. Director James Wan (Saw, The Conjuring) taps into that feeling (and I don’t mean that in a bad way) with plenty of emphasis on how the group of regulars in the film are family and the ending scenes. Despite the fact that this is most certainly an action film it almost has that warm and fuzzy feel to it at the same time.
Speaking of the action it is everywhere. There are only the briefest of pauses for a little bit of story in between the hair raising sequences. James Wan makes sure that there are plenty of fights, shooting, explosions, and, of course, crazy driving scenes. I have to say that despite the fact that the action has a kind of helter skelter feel to it and that I wasn’t crazy into the film I still found myself tense and on the edge of my seat during most of the action sequences. Desired effect obtained. All this action takes place in different locales like Los Angeles, Abu Dhabi, Tokyo, and the Caucasus Mountains, so it is also visually appealing.
Of course, if you have seen the other six films you know what to expect in that you are not getting a British period piece nor the acting that comes along with it. Do not expect any character development, plot twists, or even any real attention paid to plot. The only time the characters really stop driving or fighting is to utter totally cheesy one liners. Dialogue so poor that you are more than happy when they stop speaking to start fighting again.
Dominic (Vin Diesel – Guardians of the Galaxy, Riddick) is forced to reassemble his team, including the estranged Letty (Michelle Rodriguez – Avatar, The Fast and the Furious), husband and father Brian (Paul Walker – Flags of Our Fathers, Eight Below), smooth talker Roman (Tyrese Gibson – Transformers, Death Race), and tech wizard Tej (Ludacris – The Hangover, New Year’s Eve), because they are being hunted down by former Special Ops agent gone bad, Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham – The Transporter, Snatch). Shaw is looking for revenge for what the team did to his brother (Luke Evans – Dracula Untold, The Hobbit: The Battle of Five Armies) in London.
Dom and the team first have to work with U.S. deep undercover agent, Mr. Nobody (Kurt Russell – Stargate, Grindhouse), to locate hacker Ramsey (Nathalie Emmanuel – from television’s Game of Thrones) and get their hands on a computer anti-terrorism program called God’s Eye. It won’t be easy finding Ramsey and keeping her because she is being help hostage by terrorist Jakande (Djimon Hounsou – Gladiator, Blood Diamond). They will use God’s Eye to locate Shaw.
Despite the fact that they say goodbye to Paul Walker with Furious 7 I would not be surprised if there is an eighth edition to the film series. Especially since I am sure that this one will bring in over $100 million.
The Fate of the Furious directed by F. Gary Gray:
Charlize Theron is an Oscar winning actress who has also established a reputation as able to handle action films with her appearances in Mad Max: Fury Road, Hancock, Aeon Flux, and The Italian Job. She does both drama and action well. In this she is a throw-away villain with no meat on the character. All she gets to do is look icy and utter terrible lines. No depth what so ever. And she is awful! Even her hairstyle choice is atrocious! Dreads on a white person is never the way to go.
Another Oscar winner, Helen Mirren, actually lobbied to be in this film as she is a huge car fan. They rewarded her (and us!) by only giving her two scenes! Unbelievable. A travesty as she is loads of fun in her two scenes.
As disappointing as that was the same can be said of the entire film. I know that this is a Fast and Furious film and I should not expect anything but cheesy lines, explosions, cool cars, and action sequences. I still go in holding out hope. Knowing it is possible to an action film that has a satisfying story and precious little stilted dialogue.
The family has gone their own ways. With Mia and Brian retired from the game and Letty (Michelle Rodriguez – Avatar, The Fast and the Furious) and Dom (Vin Diesel – xXx: Return of Xander Cage, Guardians of the Galaxy) on their honeymoon in Cuba, the team seems to be defunct. They are all leading normal lives.
That is until a mysterious woman (Charlize Theron – Monster, Mad Max: Fury Road) insinuates herself into Dom’s life drawing him back in. Only this time he is not on the right side. This new gig involves him betraying all those closest to him.
Mr. Nobody (Kurt Russell – The Hateful Eight, Stargate) is back with a new guy, dubbed Little Nobody (Scott Eastwood – Suicide Squad, Gran Torino), and he is determined to get the entire team of Letty, Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson – Moana, Fast & Furious 7), Roman (Tyrese Gibson – Transformers, Ride Along 2), Tej (Ludacris – No Strings Attached, Hustle & Flow), and Ramsey (Nathalie Emmanuel – from television’s Game of Thrones) along with wildcard, Deckard (Jason Statham – The Transporter, Snatch). They are going to try and take down Cipher and clear Dom.
With each Fast and Furious film that comes out you know their primary goal is to one up the previous film. They always attempt to make each one faster and furiouser. The latest director on board the franchise is F. Gary Gray (Straight Outta Compton, Law Abiding Citizen). He is used to action films having been behind the camera for films like Set It Off and The Negotiator as well as car films with the remake of The Italian Job. He ups the ante by using different camera angles and slow mo in order to make you feel like you are along for the ride and to get your heart racing. He has racing of cool cars like a Bentley, Corvettes, Mercedes, and a Lamborghini and this time there is even a tank and a nuclear submarine. Yep, a sub.
All this action is fine and dandy, but you do need some substance as well. Not tons. A little. Something that will get you through once all the exhilaration has worn off. I know there will probably be another as this one will make plenty of money. Though it must be admitted that this film series is running on fumes.
- The Cuban Spirit
- In the Family
- Car Culture
- All About the Stunts
- Extended Fight Scenes
- Feature Commentary with Director F. Gary Gray