‘Fast & Furious’: 3 Reasons Why People Love This Franchise

Published 1 year ago by , Updated February 27th, 2014 at 10:36 am,

Fast and Furious 6 Cast Fast & Furious: 3 Reasons Why People Love This Franchise

Who could’ve predicted that the 2001 film The Fast and the Furious - a flashy neo-Noir about the underground car racing sub-culture – would, over the decade following its release, give rise to a critically-respected global box office juggernaut?

Fast & Furious 6 is the fourth installment to be directed by Justin Lin, who is responsible for moving the series away from race drama terrain and towards the heist/thriller genre on an international playing field (starting with Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift). In Screen Rant‘s official Fast & Furious 6 review, our Ben Kendrick goes into detail with his breakdown of why Lin’s film amounts to good old popcorn movie fun.

Some people rally against these movies for being exercises in over-indulgence, be it due to the metal-crunching spectacle, the beautiful cast of men and women – who play criminals that are ripe for ogling – or the exotic vehicle and bullet car inventory. Sure, the Fast and the Furious series can be summed up as a guilty pleasure (no more, no less), yet Lin’s so-called shallow blockbusters don’t seem to generate the same passionate negative responses as, say, Michael Bay’s collective filmography.

We’ve come up with three main reasons as to why this franchise has become a modern pop-culture touchstone.

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1. It’s a Superhero Franchise in Disguise

Fast and Furious 6 Car Chase Fast & Furious: 3 Reasons Why People Love This Franchise

Superheroes are the spiritual descendants of deities and regular people (who land themselves in extraordinary circumstances) found throughout ancient mythology. They are, in essence, anthropomorphic metaphors whose personal struggles, conflicts, turmoil, and tribulations reflect the universal experiences of the general human population at any time in history. Comic book superhero movies are all the rage nowadays, in part because more filmmakers have come to appreciate their value as meaningful examples of storytelling.

Fast and the Furious characters like Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) possess super-human qualities – like the ability to jump from moving vehicles going hundreds of miles per hour and land with nary a scratch – but what really makes Dom as much a superhero as Batman or Iron Man – even without a costume (we’ll say his odd-fitting tight shirts don’t count) – is his higher moral calling and devotion to family. The rest of his crew, likewise, must wrestle with matters like parental responsibilities, love, greed vs. generosity, and their obligations to other people, all of which are presented in a context that reflects life in the 21st century.

Dwayne Johnson Vin Diesel Fast and Furious 6 Fast & Furious: 3 Reasons Why People Love This Franchise

‘Iron Giant’ and ‘Samoan Thor’

No denying, it can be fun to mock the ridiculous action and melodrama found in each and every installment of the Fast and the Furious series. However, at the end of the day, these movies qualify as dyed-in-the-wool superhero movies – and well-made ones at that:

  1. They show people doing genuinely extraordinary things.
  2. The characters and their problems aren’t a secondary concern to the plot (ex. Fast & Furious 6 really IS about Dom attempting to repair his fractured family).

In that sense, they’re more successful than some of the more densely-constructed comic book superhero movies that get caught up trying to do too much (*insert your superhero movie of choice here*), which leads me to my next point…

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2. They Never Forget What They Are

Vin Diesel Paul Walker Fast Five Fast & Furious: 3 Reasons Why People Love This Franchise

There’s rarely (if ever) a hint of embarrassment in the way the better Fast and the Furious movies are put together. Lin and screenwriter Chris Morgan – more so than their predecessors (Rob Cohen, John Singleton, etc.) – do not pretend to be using a sophisticated collection of character types and tropes in their storytelling. Instead, they enjoy getting to create “low art” and play everything straight without a hint of irony, hipper-than-thou sarcasm or self-awareness. (True, this can make for some unintentionally hilarious moments, but that’s just part of the fun.)

Lin’s movies, for example, are full to the brim with scantily-clad women, chiseled men, hyperactive editing, bombastic action and pulsating musical accompaniment; basically, everything that people typically identify as being “wrong” with Hollywood movies nowadays. Yet, because these films are so honest and unapologetic about what they have to offer, it allows these elements to feel all the more organic to the proceedings. Hence, Fast and the Furious movies don’t attract the same criticisms of fan service and inappropriate pandering that other blockbusters tend to get (see: Alice Eve’s strip-down in Star Trek Into Darkness).

Fast and Furious 6 Still Michelle Rodriguez as Letty 570x380 Fast & Furious: 3 Reasons Why People Love This Franchise

All car mechanics looks like this

Funnily enough, because the cast and crew of the Fast and the Furious series are so earnest in their presentation of low-grade entertainment, they are better able to produce something worthwhile. Ironically, they’re more successful than some filmmakers who set out to make artsy fare or get wrapped up in the importance of the subject matter they are exploring onscreen.

People such as Lin and Morgan recognize that pulpy and action-driven storytelling really ought to be… well, pulpy and action-oriented, and their devotion to the cause – in combination with improved skills in that style of filmmaking over the years – has contributed to this franchise becoming a well-liked money-making machine.

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3. They Embrace Diversity

May 26 Box Office Fast and Furious 6 Fast & Furious: 3 Reasons Why People Love This Franchise

Every one of the Fast and the Furious movies’ casts are composed of sex symbols – who are dressed to show off their physique – yet their ranks include people of different genders, ethnicities and cultural backgrounds. Many a tentpole franchise revolves around a cast of good-looking actors and actresses, yet in this case they are distinguishable in ways besides personality. Commercially-speaking, that is a smart move that helps to attract a larger crowd (and avoid complaints about trying to force in more non-white characters).

Similarly, from a creative perspective, this franchise spreads a positive message about the importance of unifying across the divides of race, gender, nationality – or even the line between law-abider and criminal – in order to accomplish a greater goal (like, say, taking down a terrorist profiteer in Fast & Furious 6). Both the men and women in these films have special talents and just about every one of them serve a larger purpose in the story (even when it’s a simple one).

Fast and Furious 6 Sun Kang Fast & Furious: 3 Reasons Why People Love This Franchise

‘Honestly, I’m just here to look cool.’

The Fast and the Furious players also compliment each other, in terms of their capabilities and strengths; hence, the maternal Mia Toretto (Jordana Brewster) is portrayed as being just as admirable as the tough-as-nails auto expert Letty Ortiz (Michelle Rodriguez).

Most of the male and female characters are stock types that some tend to dismiss as stereotypes – yet because the cast and the filmmakers respect them – while letting them participate in the fun – they feel closer to real people. (Besides, not every one fits into a box – after all, when was the last time you saw an Asian character portrayed as a cool and handsome guy with no real fighting abilities, a la Sung Kang as Han?)

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fast furious 6 diesel walker johnson Fast & Furious: 3 Reasons Why People Love This Franchise

The Fast and the Furious movies are fun and flashy entertainment that better succeed at being relevant pop-art than other blockbusters or related mainstream films. In the end, that’s what I feel sets them apart from similar popcorn movies, and has contributed to the longevity of this franchise (which is about to cross the $2 billion mark, worldwide).

Be sure to share your own theories about the wild popularity of The Fast and the Furious in the comments section.

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Fast & Furious 6 is now playing in theaters.

Fast & Furious 7 opens in U.S. theaters on July 11th, 2014.

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TAGS: fast and furious 6, fast and furious 7, fast five

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  1. Not bad for a series that started out as an expensive street racing movie that seemed to be trying to follow the Gone In 60 Seconds popularity.

    I may give the franchise a shot once it’s all done and I can catch up via downloads and rental services (plus my brother’s DVDs, he has the first four in a box set) because they seem to be the equivalent of the cheesy 80s action flicks that I grew up with and adore (Commando being one of my Top 3 Movies Of All Time (c) incidentally).

    • *modern equivalent

  2. Love the ff movies cant wait till the 7th one comes out.

    • I think the 7th fast and furious movie will be split into two. At the end of 7, O’connor goes to prison and Dom and the gang try to bust him out. Brian O’connor’s kid is about 7 or 8 years old in it

  3. I think what it boils down to is that people have guilty pleasures (for me, it’s the Marvel Cinematic Universe). I don’t think there are people who would argue that these are great works of art, but there’s certainly high entertainment value in them.

    The Fast movies have never been my cup of tea, but I understand why people (including some of my friends) enjoy them. I went to see Fast Five with a friend and despite going in with low expectations thought it was a fun movie. I probably won’t see it again, but I get the appeal.

    What baffles me – honestly – is how Fast 6, released only in 2D can make $120 million in 4 days and Star Trek Into Darkness, released in 3D, makes only $83 million in 4 days. That’s amazing.

    • the reason why Star Trek never was a massive hit in the cinema plus they took too long to make a sequel.

    • Female demographic is the difference maker. Women will go to FF6 with guys but they wont for star trek. Thats as best i can figure, happened to me. Also unless your into star trek lore etc you just wont really get it, yeah its an action film of sorts but its not as accessible as FF6.

      • Happened to me too only I didn’t consider the reasons why (Vin Diesel, The Rock, Tyrese, Etc.) until I read your comment. Now I’m kinda mad damnit.

        lol

    • You dont need to have a movie in 3D to sell. You need an actual good movie with an audience.

  4. @Sandy Schaefer

    i swear when i watched FF6 i thought this movie could be close to a live action Heroes For Hire movie.

    Justin Lin should direct a Heroes For Hire movie.

    • I’m with you there, that’d be cool. But to be completely honest, I think Justin Lin should take the reigns on transformers from Michael Bay.

      • I second that!

  5. People love it because it’s a good action film that’s not trying to be smart and prove a point. Nice cars, and outlandish stunts is greatly appreciated in a summer movie. The actors were great too.

  6. //The characters and their problems aren’t a secondary concern to the plot (ex. Fast & Furious 6 really IS about Dom attempting to repair his fractured family).//

    You nailed it right there. The action and visuals actually are secondary to decently written story.

    What’s funny is that we have to be tricked into watching a good story.

  7. I think for some the relationship between Brian, Dom and Mia(and now Letty) at it’s core and how those characters interact with each other is interesting too, not as much Mia now but she is the ‘Mom’ so to speak and Brian is now the ‘Dad’ while Dom and Letty are the kids to take care of. Cause I noticed in this one if Brian said something to Dom he didn’t resist as much as in earlier films. Kind of neat relationship arc between the two.

  8. Yea these movies just have great action, visuals, and racing scenes. Also if you have been watching since the begining then you have seen these characters grow and really become attatched to each other as a family. And the cast honestly works great together; like everyone. Just all around entertaing films. Cant wait for the 7th.

    My order…

    1) 6
    2) 5
    3) 1
    4) 4
    5) 2
    6) 3

    • +1, except I’ll put #2 as last. At least #3 gave us a new racing style to add to the stunt types.

  9. Sandy, great article that really distills why this series as a whole, especially in the last two installments, managed to become so popular and even decently review compared to similar films.

    Personally it is guilty-pleasure but the series, especially the odd-numbered produced films, offer some things that similar brainless, CGI-filled action films just plain do not.

    The series had a simple route yet the expansion of this franchise never felt completely forced because the characters remained true to their essence. ‘Furious Six’ did a great job in staging bigger sequences yet developing, however minimal, character arcs and interaction that tied up nicely with other installments of the franchise while also looking to the future. Each scene in context, advance some arc or the overall plot.

    The Fast and The Furious franchise had a great start with characters whose own stories can be seen as a urban street opera manifested in the cars they drive. Brian’s(Walker) car was destroyed after his first race with Dom and his replacement car- the one he owes to Dom (Diesel)- was being repaired and built by Brian and the Team(Family) for the rest of the film. It is representative of Brian’s own deconstruction of his views and life and reconstruction via his experience with Dom and Mia (Brewster) and the rest of the group. Different, Brian offers the car which is representative of Brian character to Dom simply saying he owed him the car. Brian put his life on the line for Dom- literally as Brian becomes a fugitive and symbolically as Dom drives with Brian’s second car.

    This is just a small observation at what is in the heart of the franchise. There is no immature humor or stagnant storyline that does not advance for half an hour. The series as a whole is far from perfect. ‘Fast and Furious’ is a bad retread of the plot of the first film and the second film, 2 Fast 2 Furious feels like a video game, and ‘Furious Six’ main storyline kind of makes the plot of ‘Fast and Furious’ mute. But there is genuine action and characters in these films that have something to say about life and family in an urban environment where friendship and honor become more important.

    • Well said The Archer. :)

  10. Great article Sandy. I’m so addicted to these films now, every point you made was bang on point

  11. I know that recently people are comparing the FF movies to super hero films (which I love) but I also realized that in 6 they joke about The Rock in reference to being Captain America, Thor, and The Hulk. (There’s only one Tony Stark) Just thought that was funny now that I think about it

  12. This movies are great there is no discussion about that, but i really hate that they make Dom look like a Terminator, in the fourth movie he receives a bullet like it was a mosquito sucking his blood

  13. I loved this movie. Who cares about a plot as long as Vin Diesel speaks and smiles. I love to check off having to follow a plot and just watch good looking people with great looking cars Yes, I love films that have depth but it is just so fun on a Saturday night to check out of our little daily problems and be immersed in a fast action flick. As far as Star Trek, you know everyone survives so the suspense is gone and I think Chris Pine is an awful actor. No one can hold a cand;e to the dynamics between Nimoy and Shatner and new generation at least changed it up. The last Star Trek was BORING! Won’t even bother to see the new one until on DVD. I hope by some miracle that the ending of FF6 is not taking out a beloved character. Even with Letty back, not a fair exchange.

  14. I find Fast and Furious to be curious beast. On initial glance it looks to be a movie about fast stunt car driving, Vin Diesel doing what Vin Diesel does (has there ever been an actor who gets by in Hollywood on pure charisma alone), and stuff blowing up. I was good with this notion. Well my wife and actually sat down to watch it, anyway I realized I was may be missing the point of the movie when I was rooting for the trucker (who I must say is probably the most badass trucker put to screen since Jack Burton). Ultimately, I thought it had too much story and character development and not enough of what I wanted to see.

    Anyway after watching the first movie I decided it wasn’t for me. However I have to admit 5 and 6 have me wanting to try it again. Just not sure if I should slog through 2 through 4.

    • Skip 2, just watch 1,2,4,5,6 and stay for the post credits for 5 and 6

  15. Dear god I can NOT wait for the 7th film. 5 and 6 were a good refresher. 3 (tokyo drift, in chronological order is the best in my opinion. FF7 will be plain insane. I want them to think something up bring the Tokyo Drift cast back (except Han). Lucas could find out that Statham killed him and possibly follow him to L.A.

  16. Feels like I was reading a CRACKED article.

    That’s a good thing by the way.

  17. Good argument.

  18. The Fast & Furious movies are really a strange animal. The first one was an okay movie and simply a rehash of Point Break. The street drag racing setting didn’t really interest me, though.

    The second one was worse than the first one, but had the Miami setting going for itself right around the time when GTA: Vice City was still all the rage (extra points for timing!) and the action was pretty good.

    The third one took it up a notch and replaced the boring quarter mile stuff with much more interesting drift racing. It sill was primariy about illegal street racing, which still doesn’t really interest me, but the Tokyo setting and the culural clashes spiced it up a bit.

    The fourth one was absolutey terrible. I completely lost interest halfway through the movie and the showdown with CGI that looked worse than a Need for Speed game was downright atrocious. As far as I’m concerned this movie doesn’t exist. It’s the only one in the franchise that I don’t own on DVD.

    Then the fifth one came along! The miraculous transformation that turned a somewhat lackluster movie franchise into an action movie heavyweight (by having Dwayne Johnson aboard quite literally). The Rio setting was cool and the outrageous action was absolutely awesome. Especially the final showdown with the safe. They actually managed to make a physcial impossibility look plausible. Loved it.

    I have yet to watch the sixth installment, but eveything I’ve heard and seen so far sounds great again. I’m sure it will be fun.

  19. I like the slideshows better.

  20. Im just putting this out there.. Leon has to return!!!
    FF6 Dom says to Brian “You don’t turn your back on Family, even if they do.” Well what if Family is trying to kill your family what do you do.

    What if Leon managed to escape into South America, but then got caught, served time in a South American prison, before being extradited to a prison State side.

    When he comes out of prison there’s no one there for him, the family is gone meanwhile Dom has a new family and they living large. Leon not only starts to loathe Dom and his family values, which he feels is nothing but a farce, but also hates Brian as well for being the cause of everything. Blaming him for Jesse’s death, Vince’s death and even Letty’s memory loss (she cant remember him of course). Leon hates the new team by default and wants them dead.

    If they do something like that it will make things real interesting, Dom will have a serious dilemma and how will he deal with it.

    Now just imagine they have Carter Verone (Cole Hauser), Ian Shaw (Jason Statham) and Leon together as the primary villains for the film! Come on! That would be awesome!

    Also Include Zoe Saldana as Romes love interest and new villain… There relationship can play out like melodramatic Romeo and Juliet!

    Also lets get RYAN GOSLING!! lol thats a stretch but hey, i never would imagine we would see Vin Diesel, The Rock and Jason Statham in one movie together!

  21. I thought hollywood movie makers and their audience have better taste and/or judgement compared to foreign movie industries. After hearing a positive feedback from all over I went to see this movie last night and it does make no sense. Too many unbelievable (not in a positive way) action scenes. I am sharing the below web link not to prove a point but because the page is open on my computer:-)

    http://movies.yahoo.com/blogs/movie-talk/5-craziest-stunts-fast-furious-6-defy-laws-202705416.html?page=1

  22. These newer films have nothing to do with cars. I know the lingo and other stuff was corny ass hell and stupid in the earlier films, but those movies paved the way of MANY to become legit auto enthusiasts

  23. Man that hits it right on. This, to me, was certainly the best one yet. They just keep getting better as whole crew grows. The sad part is the powers that be want to rush the next one! You can’t rush a Great Movie man! If that does happen I will wait until all the reviews before we blow money on a rushed project!

  24. It would be truly ironic and funny if Fast and Furious wins an Oscar for the Best Movie.

  25. The fast and the Furious – Good for what it is, car porn
    2 Fast 2 Furious – Dumb movie with a dumber title
    The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift – Welcome to relevancy (sort of)
    Fast and Furious – THE was taken out, how clever, der
    Fast 5 – Wow, I never thought I would love a part 5 of any franchise this much!!! (Empire Strikes Back is exempt of course)
    Furious 6 – More please!!!
    Whatever 7 will be called – Who cares, as long as it carries on the tradition of 5 and 6

  26. movie was crap

  27. There is nothing rushed when Diesel did 4 and it was such a hit he signed on for 3 picture deal 5,6,7 have all been filmed backed to backed like LOTR that’s why the next one is able to be released next year it’s already finished shooting and is in production

  28. I would not like to see Justin Bieber in any of the Future F&F Films

    • yeah I dont like Justin Bieber in F&F series too..

  29. F & F,
    You all have done a great job. The loss of Paul is unspeakable as well as saddening.
    what I want to know is are you directors/producers/actors of franchises like this ever going to come into “the real world”, our world, the real world of fast cars and faster living than what these movies portray?

    Yes, these movies are exciting, but the real stories of the real lives of the people who made fast cars and that lifestyle what it is goes so much further than these movies.

    We are out there……..I have lived it 27 years myself. Come find us and you will have your next franchise. A real franchise with the real stories that do not require people flying thru the air catching others and then landing on car hoods and windshields to make a point.

    The real men of of the “Fast” world are out there. I know, I am apart of that real world franchise, and we dont rob banks or steal cars for aliving, but we live the real deal every day.
    We have are heartaches of losing our equivilents of “Paul” all the time, but you will never here of these people or how inspiring they are to the “REAL COMMUNITY” of fast cars.

    I suspect its just easier to go the “Hollywood route” than to go the “Real World” route.
    Should you producers and directors change your mind and want the real stories, which we all know that truth is much more interesting and stranger than fiction, and you now know where to find me. I was right here for a few short moments.

    RIP Paul.
    You and your cast did carry the torch for what was the “Real, Fast, community. But being confined to Hollywoods scripts and over the top “TANKS shooting up bridges” type ideas is not the real story nor the best story’s behind the real world of fast cars.

    I dare one real producer with guts and director with the same to come into our world and find out what it really takes to make the world of “Fast Cars and Furious Action” take place. its much more real and I can assure you much less sleep and much more hard work than going to an auction and buying fast cars. And one woman building a car that fast, “by herself” is so MUCH MORE WORK than any of these movies can ever portray, that the real story is THE STORY…….
    Good luck and God’s Speed on your next few films. Your real world version of speed is all we have to show what both our world and THE REAL WORLD really is.
    Regards,
    DS

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