Who doesn’t love a good action flick now and again? It started out as a police drama film turned into one of the most action packed series we’ve seen in a long while, with household names in most of the roles. While Paul Walker may have left us far too soon, we’ll forever know him for his work as Brian O’Conner our police officer turned criminal turned federal agent turned criminal again.
I’ll be frank with you, I hadn’t actually seen any of the movies until just a few weeks ago (a rarity where I’m concerned as I almost always see movies when they’re released because I’m fascinated with the world of fiction). Each movie built off of the others to the point of becoming a popular cultural phenomenon. Which is precisely why I didn’t know that Dwayne Johnson wasn’t in the series in the fifth film, or that Vin Diesel wasn’t in the second film (and a cameo in the third). It’s these little details that bleed out from fiction into reality and to be able to experience something that is so well known for the first time, over a decade after it first landed in our world, is one I was quite happy to go through.
From police drama to heist flick, it is a spectacular evolution that was already set in motion from the first movie. Granted what was considered legendary and rare in the first is simply commonplace in the second, fifth, and sixth films. The whole series circles around cars; they’re the main attraction with an attractive cast simply along for the ride (pun definitely intended).
Genre films have that as their main reason for existence. What’s a horror film without nubile teens doing what teens do while they sit around waiting to be slaughtered (a review in the making, believe me), or a comedy without a couple of jokes along the way.
Action films have a tendency to cut characterization out of the mix, alongside other genre films, because you’re just here for Godzilla (a television tropes reference for those who aren’t in the know). But the Fast and the Furious Saga doesn’t cut characterization to the curb to simply focus on the cars, and it does spend a lot of focus on the cars. Rather, the characters grow throughout each film as characters are supposed to. That is the point of a character in the first place. They have traits to build up a personality and actions to back them up, which is why in the world of fiction in all forms we prefer to see it with our own eyes rather than hear about it secondhand (I’m looking at you Ginny Weasley and your Bat-Bogey Hex in the Order of the Phoenix film!!).
The benefit of a long running series is that you do get to know the characters involved through their actions, their desires, and their little quirks. Han (Sung Kang) is known for always keeping his hands busy and eating a lot of snacks. Roman (Tyrese Gibson) for his love of money and his, albeit lackluster, love of friends and family. Letty for her badass attitude, love of grease, and driving skills that rival those of her off-and-on-again boyfriend Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) (and we’ll get started on women’s accomplishments being in relation to their male companionship another time). The cast of characters is well-rounded, lively, believable, and they always have a unity amongst themselves because their fighting for the same things; family, freedom, fast cars, and at times money (because money is a necessity folks).
With a new film on the horizon (possibly the last one though there are rumors to the contrary) we’ll get to see these characters that we have come to love fight against the consequences of their choices. But then, who doesn’t deal with this on a daily basis?