Heads up guys, there'll be *SPOILERS* in here for the first six Fast and Furious movies. I will be touching on some of the stuff that happens in Furious 7, but I won't give away anything major. You can't really spoil the best stuff in these movies, anyway.
We first meet Tej, forevermore known as Ludacris because that's just what you call him, in the lowly 2 Fast 2 Furious. We only know a few things about this character in 2F2F: He wears mechanic jumpsuits, he runs his own garage and, judging from the parties he throws, he is also a certified bikini inspector. Ludacris plays a simple character, but it's a simple movie, so that's fine.
Then we get to Fast Five, and this happens.
Yep, that's Ludacris back in action and uh, he's hacking safe panel with a laptop? You'd think this skill would have been introduced as part of his character a few movies ago, but we only found out that he's "good with circuits" in F5. Paul Walker's character Brian brings this up, and Ludacris brushes it off with "I had a life before you knew me." Like, what kind of life? Taking night classes at the community college? Because that still wouldn't explain this.
It seems like the team just needed a hacker/technical expert, and the filmmakers just shoehorned that ability into Ludacris. Hell, in Furious 7 they actually bring in a new character whose whole identity is based around being a hacker, but Ludacris still does the majority of the team's computer work for almost the entire movie. I guess it's probably better than Tyrese, whose role has devolved into "Stand around and have a big-ass forehead."
A dumb action-heavy series like Fast and the Furious has absolutely no business being embroiled in a convoluted storyline, but here we are. If you're not caught up on just what the hell is happening, it all starts with the third entry in the series, Fast and Furious: Tokyo Drift.
Near the end of Tokyo Drift, the laid-back Han dies in a fiery car crash. But in the next three movies, Han is still alive and well -- which means that Fast and Furious 4, 5 and 6 are all prequels to Fast and Furious 3. I know.
So for three movies, we're operating under the assumption that one day Han will return to Japan and die in an explosion. Just as we start considering the idea that they'd ignore Tokyo Drift entirely, Han does explode at the end of Fast and Furious 6... only for it to be revealed that Jason Statham was behind Han's death all along.
It creates all sorts of weird questions, mostly involving what the hell year it is. Fast 5 and 6 especially seem like they take place in the same year they were released (2011 and 2013), but we know they're set in a time before Tokyo Drift, which was released in 2005. And it's not like Tokyo Drift is set in the future -- everyone in the movie is still using flip phones.
Tokyo Drift should place us in or around an iPhoneless timeframe leading up to the newest movie, but Furious 7 directly references the fact that Letty "died" in the year 2009, which guarantees that TD happens in 2010 or afterwards. Then again, some of the cars in Fast 6 (which again, takes place before Tokyo Drift) were made in 2011 or later. And then there's the fact that, in Furious 7, Brian and Mia's kid has aged about five years since the previous movie.
There's no other explanation: The Fast and Furious movies are playing god, bending space and time backwards, all for the sake of keeping a cool character in a few more movies. It's as though these Vin Diesel movies don't make any sense.
A lot of people think it's a gas to pick on Michelle Rodriguez, but I'm not really concerned with her acting abilities -- she fits in with the franchise well enough. It's the motivations of her character, Letty, that are more concerning and ultimately baffling.
If you remember, Fast 6 reveals that Letty did not actually die in Fast 4, but instead got hit with a nasty bout of Car Racing Movie Amnesia. The bad guy of F6, Owen Shaw, picks her up at a hospital and decides to use her skills to his own end. Shaw is a nutball, so it's not really surprising that he took in a former enemy; what's really troubling is that Letty went along with him instead of like, finding out who she actually was.
It becomes clear that she's with Shaw's shady crew more or less of her own volition, almost as if losing her memory made her lose her moral compass. Even when Shaw goes nuts with the tank and starts crushing SUVs for fun, Letty is only mildly miffed.
She whines a little, sure, but when Shaw demands that she go fix something on the outside of the tank currently speeding down the wrong way of the highway and killing innocent people, Letty has no problem with that. She's still completely under Shaw's thumb until the moment Dom Supermans her out of the air.
After that, Letty is magically in cahoots with the good guys again, despite not having her memories back. She seems to just roll with whoever's around and act like it was her idea all along. Which makes it all the more infuriating when Letty says this:
Dude. Letty. Ever since you got that bump on the head, you have been doing nothing but what other people tell you to do.
Maybe the saddest part of this whole ordeal? Poor Elena gets shafted. She hooked up with Dom when he thought Letty was gone, but she gets dumped the moment his old flame comes snarling back to life. And she's somehow totally okay with it?
She leaves Dom willingly, and without a fight, just accepting that this amnesiac has ruined her life. I hope she knows that her immaculate cheekbones were too good for him anyway.
The last action scene in Fast 6 is bonkers in a great way, but it also stretches plausibility so hard that its arm snaps and this weird goo starts coming out and you have to return the Stretch Armstrong to the store. The whole thing revolves around Shaw trying to make a getaway while the gang chases his plane on a runway. In something like Goldeneye, a land-based plane chase lasts about 90 seconds. But here? They're on the runway going full speed for 13 minutes. 13 minutes going as fast as a plane just before landing or takeoff.
The heroes infiltrate the plane in time and stop the escape, but it still takes 13 minutes to do so. In that time you could cook a frozen chicken pot pie, take it out of the microwave and still have plenty of time for regret to sink in. They don't even run into the pesky "out of runway" trope. When the plane explodes and Dom's car comes roaring out of the nose (man these movies are so awesome), all of the other drivers manage to skid to a stop with plenty of room to spare.
A few outlets have tried to determine the exact length of the runway by factoring in the speed and duration of the chase; most put it at around 28 miles. For reference, the longest paved runway on the actual planet Earth goes for just over three miles. So that makes the universe of Fast and Furious about nine times more ridiculous as the real world. Sounds about right.
Remember when the Fast and Furious movies were about street racing? Yeah, I try not to either. These days they're sort of like superhero films, if superheroes were oblivious, selfish pricks who didn't care about the death and devastation left in the wake of their rollicking adventures. On one hand it's really fun to watch, but on the other hand, you gotta feel bad for those who end up as collateral damage.
Technically that's the goatee-swirling villain Owen Shaw behind the wheel in this batshit (and otherwise fantastic) scene from Fast and Furious 6, but there wouldn't be a goddamned tank on the road if Dom and his Family hadn't decided to go out and fight car terrorists. Granted, the whole plan was to rescue Letty, but that's something they could easily leave to police. Several humans were pancaked, their families shattered, all because Dom barreled his bowling ball head into danger without considering the consequences.
Even if you argue that those deaths are all on Shaw, there's still not much of an excuse for the good guys to drag a giant safe across a heavily-populated city in Fast Five.
What if someone in that building had been just a little closer to the window? What if that safe slammed into the bus with the adorable child instead of the empty police car? I can accept the insanity of a world where two sports cars can tow several tons of steel behind them, and even a place where Vin Diesel and Michelle Rodriguez can hook up -- but I can't really believe in a reality where the drivers could swerve "just right" as to intentionally miss bystanders with an elephant-sized block of death metal.
To this point, the movies would have us believe that the heroes have had thousands of close calls with pedestrians but no fatalities. But that's just it -- when any sane person almost kills a human being, they usually go through a period of shock and self-examination. But the psychopaths of The Fast and Furious never take any of their near-misses seriously. At no time do they think about the idea that someone could actually get hurt if say, they decide to fly a car between two buildings.
Everyone in the Fast and Furious movies are somehow under the impression that crowds part whenever they're near, like they have some kind of magical Moses powers.
Huh. Maybe they're onto something, there.