The Fast and the Furious has been the most recognisable source of on-screen automotive shenanigans since it was launched in 2001. The first few movies brought to light tuning culture for a wider audience through mainstream Hollywood and over time it has morphed into saving the world tropes befitting a superhero movie. Love it, hate it, or be entertained by it, you have to admit that the Fast and the Furious has taken the term “car movie” and taken it to new heights. Literally.
The Fast and the Furious
The early 2000s was a heady time of “Combat”style bodykits and spoilers higher than the average skyscraper. Tuner culture was still under wraps though, and only those directly involved in the street racing scene knew about it. Brian O'Connor went undercover to find out more about a group of street racers led by bald baddie and suspected thief Dominic Toretto, and helped uncover to the audience, an intriguing world of tuning Japanese cars. For young, impressionable teenagers, the sight of Brian and Dom racing an orange Toyota Supra against a Ferrari 355 opened up a whole new side to being car geeks – it gave them hope that perhaps their Toyota Starlet or Corolla could do the same with a 2 feet high spoiler as well.
2 Fast 2 Furious
After Dom went to ground at the end of the first movie, Brian lay low till he was busted driving an illegal Nissan Skyline GTR in an illegal street race in Florida. Covered in bright blue neon and splattered with less than digestible graphics, that Skyline was burned into the memory of every car geek interested in Japanese cars. To save himself from jail-time, Brian had to go undercover with his friend Roman Pierce, and take down the smuggling ring of notorious criminal Carter Verone. The improbable stunts started here, with Brian and Rome jumping onto a moving boat with a Chevy Camaro.
Fast and Furious: Tokyo Drift
High-schooler and serial trouble-maker Sean Boswell is sent to Tokyo, Japan to live with his father after crashing his home-built Buick in a street race. Out of his depth in the neon lit street racing capital of the world, Sean be-friends Twinkie, who takes him to one of the now-famous Daikoku parking lot meets. As it usually happens, Sean gets into trouble with the Yakuza, the Japanese mafia, over a girl and gets humiliated in a drift battle between him and the Drift King. Eventually, he learns to drift and challenges the Drift King to an honour match, and wins after stuffing a Nissan RB26DETT engine into the shell of a Ford Mustang.
Fast & Furious
A return of familiar faces to the franchise, Fast & Furious brings back Brian O'Connor and Dominic Toretto. Brian is attempting to get inside the smuggling ring of one of the shadiest criminals on the West Coast, while Dom is trying to get to the killers of Letty, his long-time love interest. Eventually they learn they have to work together because they share a common enemy, and this leads to an epic race sequence across the desert to Mexico, and sometimes even underneath it.
Dom, his sister Mia and Brian are all in Brazil, where they decide to wrong a right by committing another…wrong. They decide that a local druglord needs to say goodbye to his money, as Dom and Brian assemble a team of the best drivers on the planet to literally drive away with the vault. Roman and Tej, friends of Brian from Florida, join them to form the core group including Han and Gisele. After the whole gang is Hobbs, a ruthless American federal agent who is overly fond of baby oil. The first appearance by The Rock, Fast Five would seal his further appearances in the series.
Letty makes a return from the dead and to the silver screen to square off against her former family while running with Owen Shaw, an ex-special forces nutjob who is hell-bent on stealing government tech for his unknown masters. All the different characters introduced over the years (aside from Sean Boswell, who hasn't even been introduced yet because Fast 6 precedes Tokyo Drift in this timeline) is present on screen. Chase scenes are properly hairy, with Shaw using a “flip” car which is used for, you guessed it, filliping anyone chasing it. The movie also hosts one of the most unrealistic couplings of cars and aeroplane in any Hollywood movie ever, as Dom and his team chase down a transport plan on the longest highway ever. The scene concludes with the death of Gisele, Han's love interest, and causes him to move to Japan to deal with the grief. Enter the events of Tokyo Drift.
Set after Tokyo Drift, Furious 7 has Dom, Brian and the rest of the gang hot in pursuit of Deckard Shaw, enraged brother of Owne Shaw, who finds Han and kills him in Tokyo at the end of Tokyo Drift. Deckard proves to be a formidable opponent, beating the likes of whom requires the gang to jump out of airplanes in cars, jump out of buildings onto cars and generally cause mayhemsomehow related to cars. At the end of all this vehicular mayhem, the friendship between Dom and Brian reaches a conclusion as Brian goes his separate way in a scene that might just be the only reason to watch this film, if not for the fact that it's the last time you'll see Paul Walker in any role.
Furious 8: Fate of Furious
The first film after Paul Walker's untimely death during the filming of Furious 7, the Fate of the Furious starts with Dom and Letty unwinding in Cuba. Their down time is interrupted by reggae Charlize Theron, as the braided and corn-rowed woman blackmails Dom into working for him. Dom's family is forced to turn against him to save the world yet again, while fighting hacked robot cars, ice, Russians, Russian submarines, bad dialogue and more. This is where the series starts getting convoluted beyond repair, so if you're planning on watching the films from scratch, you should probably just stop at the 7th one.