A totally-serious-but-not-really investigation of the
Fast & Furious timeline.
While undertaking my Sunday afternoon ritual of tumbling down a YouTube rabbit hole – “labrador spaghetti race” for those of you curious – the trailer for the upcoming Fast & Furious instalment popped up. And on this specific occasion, Vin Diesel mumbling about “family”, taking things a quarter-mile at a time, against the backdrop of high-concept chaos seemed extra… whacky. In fact, the whole storyline of F9 seemed like it was unironically lifted from a certain Rick & Morty gag.
When did the Fast & Furious timeline become so silly? Granted, the first film wasn’t exactly a deadpan cinematic release in the same space as Schindler’s List. But as the stakes are continuously upped, with no proverbial ceiling in sight, one must also ask themselves, “to what end?”
Here’s a breakdown of the Fast & Furious timeline tracking the franchise’s escalating silliness.
NOTE: For the sake of this article, we’ll be taking things in order of release. The in-universe chronological order, however, is as follows –
- The Fast and the Furious (2001)
- 2 Fast 2 Furious (2003)
- Fast & Furious (2009)
- Fast Five (2011)
- Fast & Furious 6 (2013)
- The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift (2006)
- Furious 7 (2015)
- The Fate of the Furious (2017)
- F9 (2021)
SECOND NOTE: Holy shit – we’re approaching two decades and ten whole ass FF films. That’s a lot of family and quarter miles.
The Fast and the Furious (2001)
Alright, so the first instalment wasn’t atrociously divorced from reality. But – I’m not going to ignore the fact that Hector was gonna be running three Honda Civics with Spoon engines. And on top of that, he straight up came out of Harry’s and ordered three T66 turbos with NoS and a Motec system exhaust.
Silly Factor Score: 2 out of 5 Tuna Sandwiches
2 Fast 2 Furious (2003)
At this point, we’re still sort of grounded. A continuation from the first, this is when we’re introduced to Roman and Tej. Two seemingly ordinary guys coming up from the wrong side of the tracks who are later revealed to have the skillset for espionage, hacking, advanced hand-to-hand combat, and world-class performance driving in subsequent films. Also, there’s more NoS and an ejector seat. Yeah.
Silly Factor Score: 2.5 out of 5 Ludas
The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift (2006)
In addition to being my personal favourite instalment of the franchise and actually revolving around one’s ability to, you know, drive, Tokyo Drift isn’t all that far-fetched. That is until the later movies place it after:
- Fast & Furious (2009)
- Fast Five (2011)
- Fast & Furious 6 (2013)
Which wouldn’t be such an issue if all three of the above films didn’t show 2010s tech, while Han gets in deep waters with the freaking Yakuza for jacking – let me check my notes – Panasonic DVD players? Oh but wait – we later find out he really got taken out by Jason Statham’s Deckard Shaw, former British Special Forces/MI6 and mercenary. Because Dom & Co. were a little rough on the horseplay with baby brother, Owen Shaw. Talk about a continuity nightmare.
Silly Factor Score: 2 out of 5 Snacks
Fast & Furious (2009)
The Fast & Furious timeline is now a long ways away from Panasonic DVD players and drag races. We open – yes, open – with fuel tankers in the Dominican Republic, and build our way up to US$60 million worth of heroin. Letty dies very suddenly, because it turns out she’s in cahoots with Brian – who’s now a fully-fledged FBI agent despite being an LAPD officer just a few years prior. Not even a detective mind you. But not to worry, she returns once the studio resolves contract disputes with Michelle Rodriquez.
Silly Factor Score: 3 out of 5 Subaru Imprezas
Fast Five (2011)
Fast Five and the introduction of Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson as DSS Agent Luke Hobbs always seemed like the sexually charged fantasy of some high-profile producer behind the scenes. Not to yuck another man’s yum, but just pay ’em to lather up in baby oil at your house already. Why dance around it for two hours? As over-the-top as the vault heist scene is, I will admit… that’s some good shit right there, son. Thoroughly entertaining. And thoroughly impressive from a stunt coordination point of view.
This is where the franchise’s treatment starts departing from reality in leaps and bounds.
Silly Factor Score: 3.5 out of 5 BRAAAZILs
Fast & Furious 6 (2013)
Now that Universal has resolved the contract dispute, Letty is alive again and no longer written out. But to work around the whole four-year absence, she has amnesia. The classic plot fix for anything unexplained, including the already haphazardly assembled Fast & Furious timeline. Dom is now with Rio Police Officer Elena from Fast Five – portrayed by the gorgeous Elsa Pataky – but we can’t let her get in the way of the fan favourite, so let’s put her one ice at the end until we figure out a convenient plot device to involve her star power and box office potential.
Owen Shaw enters the picture, former British SAS and spec ops – must be a family thing – and he’s making quite the ruckus. His crew consists of other ex spec ops soldiers… and Letty. Who has amnesia. Because she fits right in with the work culture, I suppose (always look to upskill in your career). It’s still sort of about heists at this point, but not as much as it is spitting in the face of physics and the mention of special forces. How else are they meant to keep our increasingly ADHD attention?
Silly Factor Score: 4.5 out of 5 CGI Car Jumps
Furious 7 (2015)
I anticipate some heat being directed my way for badmouthing Paul Walker’s emotional send-off – which Vin Diesel himself believes is the best moment in cinematic history – but here goes nothing. Jason Statham’s Deckard Shaw arrives
as a backdoor set up for the spin-off so they can still make money once The Rock definitively falls out with Vin Diesel to avenge his brother, Owen. More inexplicable showcases of specialist expertise in areas we’ve never had a foundation built for on-screen, more blatant defiance of physics, and more OK fight scenes. If it seems like I’m easing off the pedal myself here, it’s because I’m actually developing a migraine. This is not a joke.
Silly Factor Score: 5 out of 5 Lykan Hypersport Deadlifts
The Fate of the Furious (2017)
God… where to begin with this one? Cyberterrorist Charlize Theron. EMPs. Nuclear devices. That fucking submarine sequence. My internal CPU is positively frying right now just wrapping my head around how far the franchise has come. I may lose my ability to smell rain and see the colour red by the time I’m done typing.
They finally managed to figure out a convenient plot device for Elsa Pataky’s Elena – now DSS Agent Elena, because everyone moves up in the world in practically no time with zero friction. As it turns out, Dom emptied the clip in her one time and they now have a secret kid being held hostage. Which is why Dom’s going against family from face value. But hey – good on Elena for landing the DSS gig. Being a single mother is hard.
Silly Factor Score: ??? out of ??? Nuclear Submarines
We’ll update this section of the Fast & Furious timeline when the time comes, but I have no doubt it’ll be as batshit crazy as the Rick & Morty “Two Brothers” trailer gag. I mean, John Cena is in it, so I’m not expecting Citizen fucking Kane.
UPDATE [11/9/20]: Bro. They’re deadset going to fucking space.