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The Fast and the Furious Movie Franchise

This sample essay will review the Fast and the Furious movie franchise, as well as movie predictions for the upcoming Fast and the Furious 7. This sample essay provides an example of why clients give Ultius top ratings.

The Fast and the Furious franchise

The Fast and the Furious is a franchise of action films by Universal Pictures that center around hot rods and heists. The franchise premiered in 2001 with the box office smash The Fast and the Furious and has since gone on to produce six sequels. As of 2014, the franchise had grossed nearly $2.4 billion worldwide, making it the greatest cash cow in Universal’s history (“Box Office History”).

Fast and the Furious (2001)

The first installment opens on the outskirts of Los Angeles, where an electronic vehicle is hijacked by mystery bandits who arrive in a fleet of Honda Civics. LAPD officer Brian O’Connor (Paul Walker) is assigned to solve the crime, so he uses his undercover mechanics job to infiltrate a secret speed racing society, in which ex-con Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) leads a gang of winning drivers. Racing Toretto, O’Connor ultimately loses to the shady character.

However, the two befriend one another when Toretto saves O’Connor from the wrath of the former’s arch racing rival, Johnny Tran (Rick Yune), later that evening; a deed for which the cop owes the ex-con a car. Convinced that he’s found the truck-jackers, O’Connor arranges a raid on Tran’s crew, who are ultimately proved innocent. Later on, Toretto teammate Jesse (Chad Lindberg) falls into debt over a lost car, and the gang plot another vehicle heist.

Toretto’s sister, Mia (Jordana Brewster), informs O’Connor, as the two have become romantically involved. Hoping to thwart the heist, O’Connor becomes further entangled with Toretto in a chase/shootout scenario against Tran, who claims Jesse’s life. O’Connor ultimately kills Tran and hands Toretto the keys to his Chevrolet Chevelle SS.

Premiering in theaters in June 2001, the film grossed $142.5 million at the box office, but received mixed reviews from critics and currently holds a 53% approval rating at Rotten Tomatoes (“The Fast”). In a somewhat lukewarm review, Reece Pendleton of the Chicago Reader opined that the movie’s “paper-thin characters [don’t] register long enough to make much of an impression, [but that] Diesel carries [things] with his unsettling mix of Zen-like tranquility and barely controlled rage,” (Pendleton). At best, the general consensus remains that The Fast and the Furious is little more than a one hour, forty-seven minute guilty pleasure.

2 Fast 2 Furious (2003)

The second film focuses on the police officer’s life after the last’s film’s violence and crime. Due to the star character’s illegal activities in the first film, this follow-up finds O’Connor having left the police force and relocated to Miami, where he now gets by as an underground street racer. Winning a race under the pseudonym “Bullit,” he’s ultimately arrested at the end of a police raid. Customs Service Agent Markham (James Remar) offers to clear O’Connor’s criminal record if the ex-cop agrees to help bring a notorious drug lord, Carter Verone (Cole Hauser), to justice.

O’Connor agrees, providing he can bring his best friend, ex-con Roman Pearce (Tyrese Gibson), along as his partner. Gibson agrees on the condition that he too get his criminal record erased in exchange for his efforts. Aided at various intervals by Customs Agent Monica Fuentes (Eva Mendes), the two ultimately bring down Verone and take some of the kingpin’s drug money as a perk.

Opening exactly two years after its predecessor, 2 Fast 2 Furious was harshly received by critics, among whom Harry Guerin of Ireland’s RTÉ ten quipped that “[w]hatever charms the first one had, the sequel badly misses the Diesel-injection,” in reference to the earlier film’s much-missed co-star (Guerin).

The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift (2006)

The third installment focuses on sex, crime, and more crime. It centers on an American teenage loner, Sean Boswell (Lucas Black), who enters a local underground speed race, but ends up totaling his vehicle at the illegal event. In order to avoid jail time, he moves to Tokyo to live with his military-stationed father. There, he falls in with the local racing scene, and proceeds to wreck another car; this one owned by Seoul-Oh (Sung Kang), the business partner of Boswell’s racing rival, D.K. (Brian Tee).

To repay the debt he’s incurred, Boswell begins working for Seoul-Oh, who teaches the lad about a racing technique known as drifting. Soon enough, Boswell masters the technique, but tensions quickly escalate between him and D.K. over a shared sexual interest. After a professional fallout between D.K. and Seoul-Oh, the latter is killed in a car explosion. In a web of stolen money that implicates D.K. and Boswell, the two agree to a race-off where the winner gets to remain in Tokyo. Boswell wins, D.K. fatally loses, and the lad assumes his rival’s initials, which stand for “Drift King.”

Lacking franchise mainstay Paul Walker but closing with a cameo by Vin Diesel, Tokyo Drift received mixed reviews upon its late-spring 2006 opening. Taking a somewhat favorable view, Baltimore Sun critic Michael Sragow claimed that “the opening half-hour may prove to be a disreputable classic of pedal-to-the-metal filmmaking,” (Sragow). Clearly, the movie remains a tour de force in high-budget special effects.

Fast & Furious (2009)

Eight years into the franchise, much of the first film’s cast returned for this fourth installment, where a legally-plagued Toretto has fled the U.S. for a serial life of misadventure in Central America. Upon finding that his estranged lover, Letty, was killed by a kingpin for whom she had worked as a courier, Toretto heads back stateside seeking vengeance. Meanwhile, O’Connor has returned to the force, where he’s now pursuing an evasive drug lord by the name of Braga.

Soon enough, the two frenemies cross paths, only to realize that they’re in pursuit of the same man. Setting aside their differences, Toretto and O’Connor pursue their target on a chase that climaxes through underground tunnels between the border of Mexico. Promised amnesty for his cooperation, Toretto instead receives a harsh sentence that is intercepted at the end by O’Connor and friends.

Out-grossing its predecessor on opening weekend alone, Fast & Furious still failed to woo critics to the franchise. Nonetheless, a winning box office formula was identified with central cast of Walker, Diesel, and Brewster, whose roles were renewed for subsequent installments.

Fast Five (2011)

Picking up on the previous film’s cliffhanger, O’Connor and Mia—who’ve renewed their romance—free Toretto from police custody and flee to Rio de Janeiro. There, the gang hatches a grand scheme to win their freedom, which involves a car heist, a computer chip, and the takedown of a kingpin, Hernan Reyes (Joaquim de Almeida), who holds a $100 million stash. After the two sides collide in a botched train-jacking that ends in the death of several Feds, DSS agent Luke Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) flies to Rio in pursuit of the gang.

Later, as Hobbs is extraditing the gang back to the states, his crew is fatally ambushed by Reyes’ henchmen. Newly bound by a common enemy, Hobbs, and sidekick Elena Neves (Elsa Pataky) team with the gang in pursuit of Reyes. After bringing the kingpin down, Hobbs grants leeway to the gang, who split the stash and head for tropical getaways.

Raking in $109.6 million during its opening weekend, Fast Five quickly out-earned all of its predecessors in the franchise (“Worldwide Openings”). Critics also held more favorable views this time, with kudos given to director Justin Lin for the movie’s pacing and timing. Movie reviewers also praised the film’s focus on how socioeconomics plays a role in criminal behavior. Incoming franchise regular Johnson (“The Rock”) was also praised for his performance, particularly in action scenes opposite Diesel.

Fast & Furious 6 (2013)

The sixth installment finds the gang spread throughout the world; O’Connor, Toretto, and their partners are living in luxury on the lam, but homesick for America. Hobbs, meanwhile, is onto a new assignment, this one involving a European heist ring headed by Owen Shaw (Luke Evans). Given the scope of the operation, Hobbs offers the gang amnesty if they agree to defeat Shaw and his ring.

It turns out that Shaw’s second-in-command is Letty Ortiz (Michelle Rodriguez), Toretto’s presumably long-deceased lover. Supposedly, she survived the attack that was meant to do her in, but left with no memory. A series of action ensues spanning London to Spain, during which Toretto and Letty warm back up to one another. The film ends on another cliffhanger, this one involving a cryptic phone call placed to Toretto.

As the highest-grossing entry yet in the franchise, Fast & Furious 6 has received mostly favorable reviews in the press. The film currently holds a 61/100 rating out from 39 critics on Metacritic, where one reviewer quipped that “the movie is one nonstop action movie candy store,” (“Fast & Furious 6”).

Furious 7 (2015)

As filming was nearing completion on this seventh installment, franchise star Paul Walker was killed in an automobile accident on Nov. 30, 2013. After initial delays, Universal decided to retire his character in the story line to allow for further continuation of the franchise. Set for an April 7 premiere date, Furious 7 will find the gang back in the states facing danger once again; this time at the hands of Owen’s vengeful brother, Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham). Series stars Diesel, Johnson, Brewster, and Rodriguez all resume their roles in this latest movie, which sees long-time producer Justin Lin replaced at the stool by horror filmmaker James Wan.

(Update) A new film, The F8 Of The Furious was released on 4/18/2017 and currently hold a 66% on Rotten Tomatoes (5/2017)

Works Cited

“Box Office History for Fast and the Furious Movies.” THE NUMBERS. Nash Information Services, LLC. n.d. Web. 19 March 2015.

“The Fast and the Furious (2001).” Rotten Tomatoes. Flixster, Inc. n.d. Web. 19 March 2015.

Pendleton, Reece. “The Fast and the Furious.” Chicago Reader. Sun-Times Media, LLC. n.d. Web. 19 March 2015.

Guerin, Harry. “2 Fast 2 Furious.” RTÉ ten. RTÉ Commercial Enterprises Ltd. 19 June 2003. Web. 19 March 2015.

Sragow, Michael. “Third time’s a charm for ‘The Fast and the Furious’.” The Baltimore Sun. Tribune Publishing. 19 June 2006. Web. 19 March 2015.

“Worldwide Openings.” Box Office Mojo., Inc. 19 March 2015. ;Web. 19 March 2015.

“Fast & Furious 6.” Metacritic. CBS Interactive Inc. 28 May 2013. Web. 19 March 2015.

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