WARNING: This article contains SPOILERS for The Fate of the Furious
Given the box office records it's breaking, Fate of the Furious is far from the last movie to send its car-driving heroes into unthinkable heroics. But as bright as the future of Fast & Furious might look, it's a franchise that's clearly just as fond of its past, judging by the many nods to films that came before Fate. Nobody ever described the series or its testosterone-fueled action as "subtle," which means that some of the more easily missed inside jokes, concealed references, or homages to fallen cast members will fly by the audience unnoticed.
To make sure that isn't the case, or to simply guarantee that fans don't need to re-watch the entire series just to stay up to date with the cast's many character, we've gathered them together. If Fate of the Furious seemed devoid of easter eggs, homages or tributes, or inside jokes only for the most devoted of fans - with the most gifted memory - then we're here to help.
Needless to say there will be SPOILERS in our list of Fate of the Furious Easter Eggs & Inside Jokes Explained.
12. "Your Respect is Good Enough For Me"
It was over a decade and a half ago that Brian O'Conner (Paul Walker) first met Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) requesting to enter an illegal street race, but that moment made an even bigger impact than audiences knew. Brian offered up the pink slip to his car, offering it to whoever won the race. But if was the winner, then he would walk away with the cash... "and the respect." That line got a laugh from the assembled image-conscious thugs, Dom included. But when Brian explained that "to some people that's more important," Dom's smirk disappeared.
In Fate of the Furious, Dom finds himself in the winner's circle after racing the man his cousin has gotten mixed up with. That victory means Dom can take Raldo's car - and that he's earned Raldo's respect. Dom refuses the car, saying that Raldo's respect "is good enough for me." The true meaning can slip by even devoted fans, but when called on that decision later by Cipher, Dom explains that in valuing respect over money or power, Dominic has changed Raldo for good. That's clearly how Dom looks back on that moment with Brian, and just as it drove Dom to a clearer, more heroic path, Raldo shows up later to prove his trust was well-placed.
11. "38 Feet of Steel & Concrete..."
Imagine the bad luck (?) of Luke Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) to wind up not only locked away in the German CIA black site prison as Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham), but in the cell directly opposite him. The good news for the audience is that smack talk that begins almost instantly, with Hobbs claiming that his incarceration doesn't mean he's any closer to a killer like Shaw, and that his time in the cell will be short. Shaw is less than convinced, saying that even if Hobbs had brought a shovel, the only way out is through "38 feet of steel and concrete... or so I've been told."
The line only lands if audiences remember the scene of Shaw actually being locked up in Furious Seven by Hobbs himself. It was the lawman's last poke at the captured criminal, claiming the same amount of reinforcements would be keeping Shaw locked away... and safe from the more physical justice he had hoped to dole out. Unfortunately, the actual prison and cell location has been completely changed, so only the joke survives... not that facts behind it.
10. "My Ribs Are Showing"
It may be remembered as something of a low point for the Fast & Furious franchise due to star Vin Diesel's absence, but 2 Fast 2 Furious gave Brian O'Conner a new partner clearly built to last. Roman Pearce (Tyrese Gibson) joined the series as a former friend turned frenemy of Brian's, holding him responsible for his own incarceration (just because Brian was a cop). Their friendship was renewed over the course of the film, before Roman later returned in Fast Five to act as the team's fast-talking grease man. Much of his character's origins have been forgotten in favor of having him act as the team's punching bag, but Fate makes a throwaway mention that fans will appreciate.
In 2 Fast, Roman was shown eating food at every single possible moment, committing to eating all the food he could get his hands on after spending time on prison food. That, too, has been dropped in recent films, but gets a callback when Hobbs arrives to find the team handcuffed in Mr. Nobody's base of operations. Roman is angry for having been kept waiting for four hours - not because he's been bored, or it's against his right, but that he's gone so long without eating "his ribs are showing."
9. An Unscripted Laugh
How easy is it to forget that Shaw spent the previous film trying to track down and kill each and every member of the heroes' team, after successfully killing Han in a fiery car crash? Pretty easy, it turns out, since Deckard Shaw was just misunderstood. At least, that's what Hobbs reveals, beginning to put aside his bad blood with Shaw as the latter works on his vehicle of choice before the real mission kicks off. After clarifying the heroism and commendations in Shaw's military career, the two return to doing what they do best: promising to kill eachother.
It's Hobbs who gets the upper hand, meeting Shaw's direct regret that murder is imminent once the mission is over with a finely-crafted zinger, promising to "knock your teeth so far down your throat you’re gonna stick a toothbrush right up your a** to brush ’em." Terrifying? Sure. Hilarious? Apparently, as Shaw cracks up, and Hobbs follows suit, revealing these two may have more in common than either had thought. As it turns out, that laughter was completely unscripted, with Statham breaking character and Johnson following.
8. Brian O'Conner's Color
It went without saying that the absence of Paul Walker meant the absence of 'Brian O'Conner' - one that would certainly be felt. Some saw the addition of Scott Eastwood to the Furious series as an attempt to replace the late actor, but in the end, the offended or nervous had little reason to be. Eastwood's character stands apart from the rest of the team for much of the film, and bears little similarity to O'Conner in terms of function or personality. But his vehicle of choice is a nice nod to Walker - specifically, his character's fondness for both auto manufacturer and color.
With 2 Fast 2 Furious introducing Brian's love of blue, his love affair with the signature shade (usually Nissan) took over. Brian's 1969 Camaro later in the film was blue, as was the 2002 Nissan Skyline GT-R R34 in Fast & Furious, the 2012 Nissan GT-R R35 Bensopra and the 1970 Ford Escort MK I in Furious 6, and the 2012 Nissan GT-R R35 in Furious 7. Even his 2013 Chrysler Town & Country in Furious Seven kept the color streak alive.
In Fate of the Furious, the team hits the streets with Eastwood's character driving a similarly blue Subaru BRZ. Not only does the car follow Brian's shift towards Subaru in recent films (including a memorable jump from one in Furious 7), but it's also sold as the Toyoto 86 - a name referencing a return to Toyota's original rear-wheel racers, of which Brian would no doubt have been fond.
7. The Ripsaw Looks Familiar
When it comes to technology, Tej Parker (Chris Bridges) appreciates it as much in a vehicle as a computer, making the armored, high-speed tank in the team's 'toy box' his perfect selection.It may seem like a piece of movie magic, but the vehicle is very much real, and built to the same specifications and purposes outlined by Tej. Known as the Howe & Howe Technologies Ripsaw, the armored, weaponized creation is designed to be unmanned, and remote controlled to allow the military to engage enemies without putting the operators in harm's way.
The tank puts its talents to the test in the final scene, when Tej operates it personally, deploying its massive cannon to take out the enemies in pursuit. That's more fact than fiction, too, but the Ripsaw has another connection to the film's casts. If it looks a little familiar in the immediate vicinity of Dwayne Johnson, it should: he piloted the same machine as 'Roadblock' in G.I. Joe: Retaliation (with similarly explosive results).
6. Ice Charger
If anyone doubted just how fond Dominic Toretto was of American muscle cars, his commitment to them in a variety of scenarios in Fate should put that to rest. He drives a variety over the course of the film (mainly a Plymouth GTX), but when making his final assault on the Russia-- sorry, Separatist controlled submarine base, he turns to a familiar choice. It may be hard to see underneath the bulletproof windows, reinforcements, massive snow tired, and even a turbine jet engine sticking out the rear, but that is a 1970 Dodge Charger, all the same.
It only seems right that when coming to the end of this chapter, one way or another, Dom would turn to an old friend. It was a 1970 Charger that Dom treasured in the very first The Fast & The Furious, and the car has stuck around as something of a 'hero car' for Toretto ever since. As hard as it may be to believe, the film doesn't actually claim that this car isn't the one completely decimated in the final act of Furious Seven, so we're just going to go on believing it.
5. Bad History With Airplanes
For those fans of the series who managed to steer clear of plot spoilers, casting announcements, or the change in moral alignment of Deckard Shaw, his return from the dead in the movie's third act must have come as a massive surprise. An even bigger surprise was the return of his brother, Owen Shaw (Luke Evans). The villain of Furious 6 now back up and walking, apparently helping to save the world in pursuit of his own freedom, Owen handles the airplane's pilots as Deckard takes on the armed guards reporting to Cipher.
Fans will remember that it was Owen whose attempt to take flight and leave the heroes behind faced disaster on the longest airport runway ever constructed by humans. Apparently, his lesson hasn't been learned, leaping onto Cipher's elite super plane and saying how much he looks forward to stealing it from her. As his brother reminds him that "you and planes don't have a good history." That's all it takes for Owen to reconsider the idea, glancing back at the cargo bay doors through which Dom Toretto once came flying, and uttering a simple "No s***."
4. What's Her Last Name?
As a sign of just how comfortable the team has gotten at the film's end, despite Cipher parachuting to safety, a family barbecue shows Tej and Roman once again trying to romance Ramsey (Nathalie Emmanuel). That's nothing new, and as the only single female on the team, we have to assume that Ramsey is used to it. But to make her point to both men at once, she makes a simple offer: if either of them can tell her what her last name is, he might take a lead in their little romantic rivalry. Obviously, neither can, making Ramsey's point that both men have lost before they even began.
It's a bit of a joke for the audience, since the men can't really offer an answer. Why? Because her character has never been given a last name. She is simply 'Ramsey' in the universe of the movies. If she has a last name, she's keeping it to herself. But as much as we would like to think of this line as a completely self-aware statement from the filmmakers that the addition of another, less necessary hacker to have another woman on the team didn't even earn a full character backstory... we have our doubts. Good joke, regardless.
3. "Heyyyy, Ms. Parker"
Of the two suitors, it's Tej who thinks quickest on his feet, claiming that her last name doesn't really matter, because soon enough, she's going to have his last name as her own. He then refers to her as "Ms. Parker," to drive home the point, followed soon after by delivering a drawn out, somewhat sassy "heyyyyyy, Ms. Parkerrrrrrr" with a smirk. It's a throwaway moment that can go unnoticed... but not to fans of the film Friday, where Ice Cube and Chris Tucker delivered a similar line when greeted by another 'Ms. Parker'... who was dressed in revealing clothes hoping to gain the attention of passers by (so they claimed).
The two gave a similarly drawn out, dopey "Hiiiiii, Ms Parrrrkerrrrr..." so it appears that Bridges took the opportunity to give his own tribute to director F. Gary Gray, the mastermind behind both Friday and Fate of the Furious. And judging by Bridges's smirk, and the surprised, intent look on co-star Tyrese Gibson's face as he acts it out, the homage was improvised (much like Gibson and Johnson's "baby oil"/"bigass forehead" exchange in Furious 6).
2. 16 Years on The Job
Hobbs is only roped into this mission once he's finished coaching his daughter's soccer team to the championship, explaining that, once again, "Daddy's gotta go to work." That work pays off, with the final scene seeing Hobbs offered his badge and rank by Mr. Nobody (Kurt Russell) - should he choose to accept it. Taking one long look at his daughter, Hobbs decides that he's spent enough time away from a simpler, family life. And that after sixteen years on the job, he's earned a bit of genuine vacation. Mr. Nobody is surprised, but doesn't press the issue.
The obvious double meaning here is that The Fast & The Furious kicked off the film series sixteen years ago too, making this an obviously loving nod to the franchise's legacy. Of course, for those who put a lot of stock and importance into the feud between Johnson and Diesel, it's possible to interpret the line as suggesting a vacation might be due for someone else... perhaps someone who has been there since the beginning. We're guessing it's merely a nod to how long the franchise has been gaining momentum - but there's little chance Universal would ever let the series take a break, given the box office records it's now smashing.
1. Luke Hobbs is a Monster?
We don't actually get any evidence that Luke Hobbs is a sociopathic, unfeeling monster, specifically, but how else do you explain the fact that he never even seems to notice that Elena Neves (Elsa Pataky) is dead? Elena Neves who, for those who may not remember, was recruited by Hobbs in Fast Five, before being recruited and serving alongside him as his right-hand woman in Furious 6 at the Diplomatic Security Service. You would think that Hobbs finding out Elena has died, or was even kidnapped in the first place would have popped onto his radar.
All kidding aside, the most obvious explanation for the lack of such a scene is that it would have to be Vin Diesel's character delivering it directly to him. And since not a single scene of Dom and Hobbs interacting exists in the course of the film, we have to assume that this weird plot hole has a personal explanation. Or Hobbs is a robot. Equal odds, frankly.
So there you have it, Fast & Furious fans: every subtle reference to prior films, easter eggs, and tributes to the past that we could find. Were there any other Fate moments that got the nostalgia flowing? Any secret nods or meaning concealed in the course of the film? Be sure to let us know.