“I realized the other day that I’ve got a pretty clear week leading up to a pretty clear memorial day weekend. Lots of extra time tends to mean lots of extra movies. While reading EW’s write up of the Fast & Furious franchise, it occurred to me that other than keeping up with the newer releases (only one of which I had previously written up), I hadn’t really visited it in a while. Thought it would make a fast and fun mini project. I’m mostly interested to see the entire story pieced together.
It all started back in 2001. Paul Walker was coming off a string of teeny bopper hits (by which I mean She’s All That), so he was brought in to lead fun little crime thriller posing as an action movie. It ended up launching a pretty successful franchise. However, the name that became most associated with it wasn’t Walker. It was Diesel. Vin Diesel. After a few small roles and not widely seen films, this is what shot him to the A list and made him a star.
As per usual when writing up older films (by which I just mean not new releases), you’re gonna get the story of when I first watched it. Just part of the ExpDel deal. So I think it was back in high school that I rented it. It was during the point in time when my Daddy and I would raid Blockbuster weekly, each of us picking a movie or two that we’d watch together over the next few days. The Fast and the Furious was one of my picks. I thought it’d be a fun, high paced action movie. Now while that’s what the franchise has evolved into over time, the original started off as more drama than action. At the time it was a disappointment. But with the right context and perspective, I grew to appreciate and even love it.
This is our first introduction to Brian O’Connor and Dominic Toretto, as well as Letty and Mia. For now, they’re just big ambitious fish in a small pond they are quickly outgrowing. The film promises fast cars and climactic chases, but there’s more to it than that. There’s the drama of Brian figuring out if he’s more loyal to his badge or his newfound friends as he tries to figure out who’s behind some rather sophisticated highway thefts. As the franchise grew, it did pay more attention to the cars, but for now, they ended up being just a small piece.
But even if they weren’t as much of the focus as the film as I originally expected back then, they’re still pretty sweet. You know that your movie is on some level successful if it introduces subject matter that you find yourself wishing you knew much more about. I watch this and want to know all there is to know about cars. Now of course, that feeling will fade over the next few hours and it will fade into no more than a quick thought. But while you’re immersed in the world of the movie, you just want to be deeper in it. And that is why this small time movie turned into a major Hollywood franchise.