I wasn’t late to the Fast & Furious franchise, but I started out as a seething dissenter to the original movie. I thought the whole premise to be hackneyed and found pure joy in not being on the “up and up” with the fervor for the movie. By the time 2 Fast 2 furious (2003) came out, I was solidly in the “get the heck outta here with that mess” camp of detractors, especially since it spawned a short-lived (thankfully) genre of copy cats like Biker Boyz (2003) and Torque (2004) that I found contrived and insipid. One day in 2005 I was cleaning my apartment and the first film came on one of the many movie channels I subscribed to and was – well – impressed. This movie that I had written off was pretty decent. This in turn lead me to watch the sequel, not as good, Roman (Tyrese) sort of got on my nerves, but I was still pretty okay with what I saw. These movies didn’t make me a fan, but I found an appreciation for the franchise that I swore would be in the gutter for all of existence. It was also obvious that FF4 – FF6 all took place in between FF2 and the third installment The Fast and Furious: Tokyo Drift (2006), so we knew after the exit of Han (Sung Kang) in Furious 6 (2013), we were getting close to the current timeline.
FF7 finally caught up the dreadful Tokyo Drift which could have quite possibly killed this franchise in a massive burnt out. I know some people thought it was okay, but it was just wrong-headed almost from the beginning. However, the subsequent movies completely salvaged this series about a crew of misfits who’ve formed a tight-knit and loyal family. Only months after the events in FF6 in which the motley crew took on and took down the renowned international mercenary, Owen Shaw (Luke Evans), a new threat emerges. As per the end credits in FF6, his bigger, badder, meaner older brother, Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham) was coming to avenge his baby brother.
Deckard’s opening salvo against DSS Agent, Luke Hobbs (Dwayne “THE ROCK” Johnson), can only be summed up in one phrase – HOLY CRAP! That was a great scene that really let you know that Deckard wasn’t the standard issue bad guy, rich mogul or straight-laced law enforcement agent – Deckard is relentless, fearless and hell-bent on destroying Dominic (Vin Diesel) and his crew no matter what it takes or who he has to kill.
What Justin Lin set up, new Director to the franchise, James Wan took and amped up to 11. The FF movies are a series of one ridiculous scene after another; each movie ramping up the action and stunts to the next level leading up to a crescendo of speed, carnage and snazzy one-liners. This movie was by far one its most ambitious efforts to date and did it with the style and “swag” you’d expect this franchise to produce. It delivered. That’s all I can ask of this franchise – keep producing a great action-packed adventure that keeps me at the edge of my seat.
However, due to the untimely demise of its leading co-star, Paul Walker (1973 – 2013), this movie took on another tone towards the end. Since all the principle shooting had already wrapped up prior to his death, I couldn’t help but watch the movie just to see how they were going to deliver his “homegoing” tribute. Boy, they deliver one of the most touching and powerful scenes in any movie I’ve seen in years. It was poignant, relevant and truly Oscar worthy in my opinion. Not solely because of his death, but the symbolism they displayed to show his life, the love they had for him and how they honored his transcendence was nothing short of glorious. This was a scene that even the most hardened man had to have had at least a lump in his throat watching. It doesn’t matter if it was a mother, sister, parent or brother – the scene just spoke volumes about the quality and impact of a life lost. I will remember that scene for as long as I live.
It took seven movies, but I’m a fan of this franchise and I can’t wait for Furious 8 (2017).