The first movie in the franchise, The Fast and The Furious, was released in 2001, 20 years ago. It was a high octane racing thriller and captivated youths all over the modern world. Everybody wanted to be either Vin Diesel or Paul Walker (Dom and Brian). A film that spawned the biggest grossing series in the world, with the first movie ranking in $206,512,310!
What really kickstarted the series was Paul Walker, an undercover FBI agent. See, he’d starred in other movies, but the Fast and the Furious films were what he was and is still known for. First starring alongside Vin Diesel in the first movie, then being the star of the second, and reuniting with Vin for number 4. Film 4 and 5 was where we start to see a competitiveness between the actors to be the lead. Vin had vanished for movie 2 and made a brief appearance at the end of movie 3, Tokyo Drift. The 3rd movie, Tokyo Drift, was never my favourite, I preferred the first 2 movies. At the time though it didn’t matter, you liked it and you were cool, didn’t like and you were living in the past of the first movie.
The movies could arguable be the reason for video games such as Need for Speed: Underground released in 2003, and Need for Speed: Underground 2 released in 2004. Don’t forget Burnout, released in 2001. I played all 3 and I preferred Need for Speed, simply because of the car customisation which was a huge part of the first few Fast and Furious movies. They went from being crime films full of octane chases and races, to more of action thrillers where the cars customisation took the backseat. I still like the movies and for me number 7, Paul Walkers last movie, was my favourite. I still have to see the 9th movie!
So, what happened? Obviously Paul passed away in 2013, after the release of Fast and Furious 6. Making a digital appearance for number 7. It was known that he loved cars in real life as well as being in the Hollywood success series. The 6th movie also introduced Dwayne Johnson, which was a surprise. What was a bigger suprise was that he stayed on in the following movies. Going from antagonist to friend of the group.
See, Paul Walker starred in the first few movies, helping to build up the franchise and make it what it is today. Sadly, not everybody wanted that. He brought to the series a likeable character. Overshadowed by one person and pushed to the back seat a lot of the time, which we start to see in 2009 releases Fast and Furious.
We can’t change the past, but we can appreciate that Walker played the main character, Brian O’Connor in the first movies and added that undercover cop magic. The series grew, so did the income, so it was really not a surprise to see more recognisable faces showing up, like Dwayne Johnson, like Kurt Russel. The excellent spin off movie, still a part of the franchise, Hobbs and Shaw, starring Johnson and Jason Statham! Yes, an epic combination and to be honest, one of the best films I have seen in terms of action and plot. It still retains that Fast and Furious seal of approval, the upgrading of vehicles, the car chases. The crew of the series did well to integrate this spin off. See, Jason Statham, if memory proves correct, made a brief appearance at the end of one of the Fast and Furious movies. I think it was number 7, and then then film ends. So, to bring him back in film 8 (?) been a while since watching, was a good idea. An ideal villain. Anyway the spin off was good.
Back when the franchise was starting Paul and Vin were the only big stars in the movie that people cared about. There was Michelle Rodriguez though, who turned heads. She stayed in the series until film 4, Fast and Furious, in which she was killed and the plot evolved around Dom trying to avenge her. It was a rather emotional entry in the series. But fear not, she magically comes back in a later movie and sticks around. Rodriguez did go on to star in films like Resident Evil.
If the series continues, and no doubt it will, because of the money, then lets hope they go back to a time when the film was about the races, the upgrading of cars, and the neon lights on the streets of Los Angeles. The movies still have cars and fast chases, but the original movies were about racing. They lined up, some women in tight shirts would wave the banner and then they race. There was nitrous, there were crashes, and there was winners and losers. It felt very real. The newer movies don’t feel quite the same.
This has been a remembrance of Paul Walker’s contribution to the franchise, without whom it would not be where it is today. For the sake of clarity, I like the movies.