The Fast and the Furious is 20 years old today, and the familia keeps rollin’, rollin’, rollin’, rollin’.
Once upon a time, these movies weren’t about blasting off to space in a Pontiac, flying a supercar through Abu Dhabi skyscrapers or facing off against a submarine in Russia; it was a mix of Point Break bromance and neon-lit, warp-drive street racing. Today, it’s every bit as entertaining as it was back then.
If you want a proper blast from the past, check out the original trailer from 2001:
Directed by Rob Cohen, the premise is simple: undercover Brian O’Connor (Walker) wants to infiltrate Dominic Toretto’s (Diesel) crew to investigate a spate of high-speed hijackings carried out by expert drivers, whether it’s eating a ‘crappy’ tuna sandwich made by Dom’s sister Mia (Jordana Brewster), rankling his friends or racing in a quarter-mile to earn ‘respect’.
Compared to the polished, high-budget aesthetic of the later entries, the original has a grungier feel: smoggier visuals, baking under the LA sun; energetic cuts and camera-swings with a soundtrack from Ja Rule, Limp Bizkit, DMX and more, filmed with the mania of an early 2000s music video.
In some ways, it’s almost exactly the same. ‘I live my life a quarter-mile at a time. Nothing else matters: not the mortgage, not the store, not my team and all their bullshit. For those 10 seconds or less, I’m free,’ Dom says, driving off into the sunset. Its silliness is backed by commitment.
It packs a stonker of an ending, but the racing (and Corona) has always been the takeaway: the ludicrous, souped-up car designs, with mighty-high suspensions, spoilers and in one instance, a PS1 in the front seat; the hilarious stargate shift every time someone hits the nitrous; the CGI inside the mechanics of the engine, which was bold at the time; and the immersive culture of ‘Race Wars’ and evading police.
The Need for Speed gaming franchise took on its finest lease of life in the movie’s wake, with Underground allowing immense customisation of cars and Most Wanted and Carbon placing emphasis on the night-time racing, giving us that fast, furious buzz.
Nine movies later, its humbler origins aren’t completely lost. ‘I was lifting DVD players, I was engaged in illegal street car races, and now the world watches Dom put his son to sleep,’ Diesel told UNILAD. All the star wants to do is make ‘Pablo’ proud, and create the best movie ever made as the finale.
Unforgotten, undying, The Fast and the Furious is a testament to its own motto: ‘Winning’s winning.’
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