Kevin: When it was originally released in the summer of 2001, no one could have foreseen that the modestly budgeted “Point Break” rip-off “The Fast and the Furious” would eventually spawn 7 sequels over more than 15 years, generating $4 billion at the box office and turning its anti-heroes from low-rent L.A. truck hijackers to super-rich globe-trotting spies. Yet here we are with another installment coming out on April 14th, “The Fate of the Furious,” which has managed to add Charlize Theron and Helen Mirren to a cast that has already been bolstered over the years by heavy hitters like The Rock, Kurt Russell, Jason Statham and, uh, Ludacris.
The newest chapter will undoubtedly make billions again, with two more sequels already scheduled, but as you may have seen from our 2017 Preview, the Tough Guy Digest staff has a very love/hate relationship with this series. I for one have never been able to see the appeal of a PG-13 action franchise that is almost entirely predicated on the notion that Vin Diesel is the toughest, coolest, sexiest badass of all time. But maybe I’ll change my opinion, as we are looking back at all the previous sequels before the new one arrives. Did Paul Walker and Jordana Brewster become better actors? Did the idea of Diesel as a sex symbol get less ridiculous? Did Ja Rule ever get that three-way?
We’ll find out, but first let’s kick it off with the one that started it all: 2001’s “The Fast and the Furious.”
- Having not seen the film since it came out, I forgot that this entire FBI operation is to stop a gang from boosting TVs and DVD players. I was hoping the “a-ha!” moment when Brian realized Dom was the ringleader would occur when he was touring Dom’s room and we got a dramatic zoom in on a Panasonic PV-M939 set up in his entertainment center! With Paul Walker’s acting though they probably would have had to animate a light bulb turning on above his head to make sure to convey this.
- The gang’s fleet is composed of three identical Honda Civics with neon green lighting under the chassis, yet law enforcement just can’t seem to find these guys.
- So apparently the Torettos own a little corner store called “Toretto’s Market and Café.” Do they still own this place today? Like does Dom pay the property taxes on it from Fiji or Dubai or wherever he’s hanging out currently? Either way, Brian apparently orders the same sandwich every day, a tuna on white, but with the crusts cut off like he was a fucking 6-year-old.
- Our first look at the legendary Dominic Toretto in the “Fast and Furious” saga. Hold on to those panties ladies.
- On that note, is there a more ridiculously unlikely pair of movie siblings than Vin Diesel and Jordana Brewster? I really need to see what couple combined their DNA that would have resulted in those two extremes. Off the top of my head I’m thinking maybe Chris Hemsworth and that stoner-looking twerp who was supposed to be his brother in the “Red Dawn” remake, or possibly Dennis and Randy Quaid in real life.
- Like the word “nos”? Good, because you are going to hear it 287 times in this movie.
- Speaking of “nos,” from what I’ve gathered from the various drag races in this movie, whoever cheats last always wins.
- Just remember there was a time when having a cameo by Ja Rule gave your movie street cred. The only way this movie could be more from 2001 is if Vitamin C and Sisqo had cameos.
- Apparently the main bad guy Johnny Tran is pissed at Dom because a business deal went south (maybe Dom shorted him on some top-of-the-line Casio watches), and also because Dom slept with his sister, because of course. No one had any idea back then how invested these movies would be in the idea that Vin Diesel is an irresistible ladies man.
- When Brian and Dom get back to Dom’s house after evading the cops there is a party in full swing. Dom offers Brian a beer and says, “You can have any brew you want, as long as it’s Corona.” Then after giving him one Dom says, “That’s vintage so enjoy it.” Why is Dom supposed to be so cool again?
- Apparently that Corona was too “vintage” for Brian because Mr. “I don’t like crusts on my sandwich mommy!” quickly switches to a Snapple Peach Tea.
- If there was any doubt that Dom is the world’s biggest poseur douchebag, it’s answered when we see him wearing a “Von Dutch” shirt.
- I feel like if I ever have to ask a friend of mine if he’s a cop more than five times, then he probably is a cop.
- The head FBI guy keeps saying that they need to bust this hijacking crew because the truckers are arming themselves for some vigilante justice. Great, that sounds a lot better than this boring movie. Go truckers!
- Dom’s famous speech: “I live my life a quarter mile at a time. Nothing else matters; not the mortgage, not the store, my team and all their problems. For those 10 seconds or less I’m free.” Sounds like the same speech a guy hooked on Oxycodone pills could give but it would be far less “cool.”
- Once again, another movie in which the undercover agent is told that if he can’t bust the target in 36 hours he’ll be fired. I’m pretty sure that’s not how law enforcement works.
- So apparently all it took to cause their precision-timed heists to go astray was one guy behind the wheel with a double-barrel shotgun. This truck driver rules: he kicks the shit out of Dom and his crew with one shotgun and some badass driving, and makes it to Best Buy with his load intact. Why aren’t they making sequels about him?
- Looking at the end credits, I now understand why this movie was so full of empty tough guy posturing and stupid dialogue meant to sound cool: it was written by David “Suicide Squad” Ayer.
Mike: It’s finally happened, we here at TGD are embarking on “The Fast and the Furious” franchise … I know, I feel the same way too Dom. Let’s get into it:
- I wonder how much it cost Dom and his crew to invent those grappling hook guns? I suspect the R&D budget for Toretto’s garage and sandwich shop is probably a few million dollars a year.
- In the opening robbery they hijack a truck on a road that is undergoing a lot of work, which seems like an odd thing to do when the very essence of your plan is to boost the truck without it ever slowing down. They force it down a road completely littered with witnesses, and to add to that they are driving cars with lights on the bottom … very inconspicuous! I’m no criminal genius, but couldn’t they just wait for this guy to hit a red light and then put a gun in his face like in “GoodFellas”?
- I was raised to never speak ill of the dead, but my god is Paul Walker’s acting horrible. He’s got the same conviction I have when I tell my boss that I cherish my job and try my best every day to do it well. (PS – I don’t love my job. In fact I’m at work right now writing this drivel on the company dime!)
- After the first big street race where Brian loses his car to Dom, the police show up and everyone scatters. Dom hides his car in a parking garage and is walking down the street when a cop car stops and screams, “Toretto!” over the PA system. If this patrol cop knows it’s Toretto, why doesn’t he just go and pick him up at his home or job? A cop is still an eyewitness, it’s not like there always needs to be some other person around in order to confirm that someone is doing something wrong. I don’t even know what they arrest him for anyway, speeding?
- Dom mentions that he did two years at Lompoc and that he would sooner die before going back. Based on that you’d think the man had spent half his life in jail. According to Wikipedia here’s the description of Lompoc: “The Federal Correctional Institution, Lompoc (FCI Lompoc) is a low-security United States federal prison for male inmates in California.” I think Alcatraz has a similar description but I’d need to check.
- Kevin, to your point about the beer, Dom doesn’t just give Brian a Corona, he gives him a half-drunk Corona that he took out of Vince’s hand. For a man who enjoys lecturing people on respect and loyalty, for me that starts by handing me a beverage that’s cold and not half full of mechanic spit. Vince is all offended by it too, like it was the last Corona on earth.
- Michelle Rodriquez plays Letty, Dom’s love interest and hardboiled no-nonsense-type dame, who makes this face with shocking regularity:
- “If we don’t close this case soon the truckers will take matters into their own hands. I tell them we’re close. You gonna make me a liar?” – FBI agent grilling Brian on his undercover work. I didn’t realize we were watching “F.I.S.T.,” an old Stallone movie where he plays a Jimmy Hoffa-type character who controls the very powerful Teamsters Union. So the FBI is saying that they don’t have time to wait, I guess they have something better to do?
- And why would they send Brian dressed in S.W.A.T. gear along on these police raids? Wouldn’t it make more sense for him to have an alibi with Toretto instead of being MIA as Johnny Tran’s people are getting arrested all over town? After the raid the FBI guy says that Tran purchased the DVD players legally. Maybe he’s installing them into street racers, but my guess is that a normal person, even an Asian, doesn’t need 40 DVD players.
- RACE WARS – I’d like to think that the producers chose this name because each street racing gang is a different ethnicity, but I’m pretty sure they just thought it sounded like “Star Wars.” And talk about a last-minute addition to the script: all of a sudden Jesse, the computer geek with barely any dialogue, needs to make a lot of money fast so that he can buy a car to have for when his father gets out of jail. So during Race Wars he challenges Tran for the pink slip to his car. That all literally happened in less time than it took you to read those two sentences.
- Spoiler Alert: It all worked out in the end. Jesse definitely didn’t get shot to death over it.
- At Race Wars, Brian spills the beans to Mia that he’s a cop even though there is basically zero reason to do so. He needs information from her but he’s too shitty of an undercover to get it out of her the old fashioned way, so he just confesses and then she tells him everything! Usually when you say, “I’m a cop,” that’s around the same point all the criminals stop talking.
- I also don’t really get why all of a sudden he’s all about helping out Dom and his crew. Yes, he’s banging Mia and that’s probably nice, but all Dom ever did for him was buy him lunch and one time invite him over for dinner. I guess that’s all it takes to flush your entire career down the toilet and probably do some serious jail time. Brian sacrifices his whole case and puts himself in jeopardy with the FBI as well as “every single law enforcement agency in California.” He must be the loneliest male model in Los Angeles!
- Hahahaha Kevin, yes the trucker with the shotgun is the real star of the movie. He’s fending off everyone and driving a big rig at the same! Where’s his sequel?! Let’s just break down what this guy does:
- He’s driving a Mack truck, which I assume is at least a two-handed job.
- He’s firing a sawed-off shotgun at Vince, Dom, and Letty.
- He’s got Vince hanging off the front of his rig, snared like an animal.
- He runs Letty off the road.
- He shoots out Dom’s tires and disables his car.
- He’s using a double-barrel shotgun (seen here on the Internet Movie Firearms Database), which means he’s reloading after every two shots and he’s firing A LOT. His aim is for shit, but that’s still impressive by any standard. Maybe the FBI should just let the truckers handle this problem, they seem way more equipped for it.
- When Brian calls in the medivac helicopter to pick up Vince, I don’t know, maybe they can take Letty too? Just a thought. After all, she was in a high-speed accident inside a car that rolled about 15 times and she’s bleeding from the mouth, so it might make sense for someone to put a stethoscope on her while they’re at it. Then after Jesse gets shot Brian doesn’t even call in a helicopter for him. I guess that doesn’t warrant an “emergency” in his mind. Hell, Dom doesn’t even stick around to help him either. This Jesse really is an intricate character to build your third act on.
- If you ask me the real victim of “The Fast and the Furious” is Johnny Tran! He doesn’t steal anything and he didn’t fuck with anyone unless they were trespassing on his turf. He ran an honest race against Jesse and what was his reward? Dishonored in front of his family, gypped out of a car, and shot twice in the chest.
- Once again hat’s off to that trucker because I’m pretty sure the truck that hits Dom’s car during the final race is the same truck driver they fucked with earlier. He’s a badass!
- And finally … I’d like to be there when Brian explains how Dom got away. “Yeah Sarge, I know we haven’t seen each other for the whole last half of the movie, but what happened was Dom and I had this drag race and it was basically a tie for the whole time, but then he got hit by a truck and his car caught air and rolled a few times. Wouldn’t you know it? He got out unscathed, stole my keys and car, and just drove off.” “Do you have a description of that car?” “I do not, because I went temporarily blind just before I got behind the wheel.” “Okay officer, I think this case is officially closed.”
CJ: To address Mike’s concern, given that “Fast 7” CGI’d Walker, and will probably find a way to do it in 8, they clearly don’t consider him dead, and neither should we.
I know we all make fun of Ja Rule for being in this movie, partly because he’s Ja Rule and partly because he screwed up his lines so badly he actually had to redub them, but I submit he’s the most logical character in this movie. Think about why they race:
Ja Rule: Threesome.
Not to mention, when he realized he was gonna lose, I felt his pain as he screamed “Monica!!!!” knowing he’d lost his chance at such a holy grail.
What I’d like to focus on, however, is the love story between Brian and Mia. A story so gripping that I still needed to IMDB the movie to learn that Jordana Brewster’s character was named Mia. Let’s analyze Brian’s strategy for seducing Mia:
It starts off, as Kevin noted, with a wonderful scene where Brian orders a tuna sandwich with the crusts cut off. Mia proceeds to bitch that he orders it every day, and how the tuna is shit. Brian points out that he disagrees and is promptly beaten up by Vince. Gentlemen I, Was, Blown, A, Way. Watching Paul Walker and Jordana Brewster blankly stare off center of each other really hit me hard, and I’m not ashamed to admit I went through several tissues wiping away my tears.
Next up is the family BBQ. Over some grilled chicken, but not before our criminals say their prayers, Brian gives Mia some sexy dead eyes from across the table, fairly similar to Kurt Thomas’ flirting skills in “Gymkata.” She returns his lusty gaze. Or at least I assume so; she might have been looking at the chicken. Later they find themselves cleaning dishes together, where Brian explains that in his family, cooks don’t also clean. I’m not sure but if you’re hitting on a woman, I don’t think leading off by pointing out her brother is a misogynistic piece of shit is the best approach. Either way, Mia tells Brian to take her to the restaurant Vince originally wanted to take her to. They proceed to dry dishes in total silence for the next two minutes, no eye contact. GOOSEBUMPS!
Finally we have them chowing down at the local cantina. They spend their time talking about Dom and Letty, and I know what you’re all thinking. That’s right, my dick is also rock hard! As an audience member, the thought of Dom and Letty turns my mojo up to 11, so I have no idea what must be going through Mia’s and Brian’s minds as they discuss HER BROTHER and Letty. Seeing as the next scene involves Brian waking up next to Mia in bed, I can only imagine one thing: marathon mutual masturbation sessions.
I’d like to also talk about one of my favorite side stories from “The Fast and the Furious.” When it first came out, Ebert and Roeper went on “The Tonight Show” where they started talking about how shitty it was, specifically the horrible CGI car scenes and how you couldn’t do those stunts with cars. Leno pointed out that not only were those not CGI scenes, but you in fact could do all of those stunts with cars. Watching Ebert and Roeper try and mumble a retort as Leno politely smiled is one of my greatest memories of movie critics basically being told to eat shit. Say what you want about Leno, but he will always be my hero because of that.
Anthony: Well guys, you’ve probably noticed I haven’t really had much to say on “Fast and Furious.” And no it’s not because I have a secret crush on Vinny D. Although he is a great actor, and has proven that time and time again. The reason I’ve been aloof during this passionate discussion is … get ready … I have never seen any of these films in their entirety. Not ONE.
We were tasked to go back and rewatch these “Citizen Kane”-level classics to find our patented TGD takes on them. Now since CJ, Kevin, and Mike not only love these movies but have named several of their children after the characters already, what could I possibly add to this conversation? Well for starters … I’ve never watched “The Sopranos.” Also I watched the final episodes of “Breaking Bad” AND “Lost” without ever watching any of the previous episodes. Yes … I know, kill me now and salt the earth where I am buried so nothing from my heathen cells will ever see the light of day again.
Now that I’ve gotten that off my chest, I’ll admit that I have seen bits and pieces of them. It’s almost impossible not to since there is a FF movie playing on a station somewhere in the world at some time every minute of the day, and that station is usually OXYGEN of course. Thank you Oprah! From what I gather if I put all those clips together I’m thinking:
A) There’s something involving cars going on here.
B) Vin Diesel is the baddest man on the planet. As if that was ever in doubt.
C) Tyrese Gibson is the baddest man on the planet. As if that was ever in doubt.
D) Dwayne Johnson is the baddest man …you know what, let me skip a few down the list.
M) Jason Statham is the bad … sorry didn’t skip far enough.
U) Ludacris has blackmail pictures of the producers somewhere, because he shouldn’t be in these movies.
V) Cars that go ridiculously fast never run into innocent bystanders because of safe driving. Remember: Ten and Two people!
W) The permit process for illegal street races to cordon off whole sections of cities and highways is apparently alive and well.
X) American muscle cars are dark, brooding, boat-like contraptions. Foreign cars are shiny, glowing, and small. I guess both represent their indigenous peoples.
Y) If a hand-to-hand fight breaks out … the better driver wins, because science!
and finally …
Z) I may have missed the greatest movie franchise of all time … but I have seen “Rogue One,” and Darth Vader is the baddest man on the planet. As if that was ever in doubt.
Kevin: Actually I certainly doubted it during this scene at the end of “Revenge of the Sith”:
Mike: My question to Anthony is why would you only watch the season finale of “Breaking Bad”? At that point why even bother!? Also, let’s not forget that Anthony is a gamer and sometimes Skyrim (only game I can name right now) takes precedence over everything, and I mean everything! The man can’t remember the last time he used a toilet in his own home because he pees in empty cans of Mountain Dew and does his other business out the one window that’s close enough to the TV so he can still man the controls!
Also, “The Sopranos” is the most overrated show of all time. And I mean that literally, because it’s been voted the greatest TV show ever made by the public. They are wrong.
Kevin: Well, one down and seven more to go. Come back soon to see if Tyrese can capture Brian’s heart the same way Dom did in the first sequel, “2 Fast 2 Furious.”