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The Quick & Angry Project

The Quick & Angry Project: Or, Why View and Review All the Fast & Furious Films in One Week?

 by Dave "The Conduit" Davis

     It was June, 2001. America was going through a boom time. The housing market would never fail, the presidency of George W. Bush was going well, everything was going gangbusters in the land and nothing was going to change that. It was a time of optimism. Of hope. Of being able to go 200 MPH down Los Angeles streets with no threat of cross traffic.

     Director Rob Cohen's The Fast and the Furious was exactly the right movie for the time: loud, colorful and fast. Pretty people, pretty cars and the movie gave exactly what it promised. More to the point, it was fun. There wasn't a lot to think about, but for a summer movie, you usually don't want to ponder the state of man's relation with the planet. You want to set back and watch a spectacle, and the movie delivered.

     The movie came, made it's money, found a home on video, and that was that. Except that it wasn't. The next film, 2 Fast 2 Furious, came around in 2003, and, personally, seemed a little lacking from the earlier film. Of course, thinking back to 2003, everything seemed a little lacking from the boom times, for a lot of different reasons in our culture. Well, it was a sequel for a film that did well at the box office. Of course they were going to make it. The fact that the "new" had worn off and that it only had one person returning from the previous film (Vin Diesel was keeping his options open at the time) didn't help matters. 

     Then came the third film, The Fast and the FuriousTokyo Drift, in 2006. Coming three years after the previous film, and five years after the original, it seemed a bit of an odd duck. Adding in the fact that there were no returning characters (except for a brief cameo at the very end) made it a hard sell. But, there was an interesting undercurrent running through this film. They weren't selling the story of certain characters, but they were actually selling the idea of "Fastness" and "Ferocity." A lifestyle, if you will.

     After the third film, we figured that was probably it. Three films. One trilogy. But the director of the third film, Justin Lin, wasn't done, and in 2009, Fast & Furious hit the screens. This film had a difference, though. All the main characters from the original film were back (Vin Diesel apparently deciding that open options were overrated). Then, in 2011, Fast Five came out, continuing their story, and this year's Fast & Furious 6 rounded out the second trilogy. 

     So, stop to think about that for a second. Six movies. Two trilogies. Not a lot of film franchises can pull that off, and, more astoundingly, the Fast & Furious franchise is, arguably, getting better (again, if you don't enjoy this type of film, that's a moot point, but these films have never been put up as great art, but as good fun). Unlike another twin trilogy franchise out there that I won't mention (I will say, however, that no character in the F&F films says "Yippee" in any way, shape or form). 

     So, for the past 13 years (!), these films have been part of the filmgoing culture, and with Fast & Furious 7 set to come out next year, that streak will continue. So, I decided to sit down and watch them all, just to see what would happen. I've recorded plot points, and then my thoughts on what I've just seen.

This is the Quick and Angry Project.


The Fast and the Furious 

     The plot: Our saga begins. Hot young LAPD cop Brian O'Conner (Paul Walker) goes undercover in the Los Angeles street racing scene to find the group responsible for a series of truck hijackings (using three highly modified Honda Accords, harpoons and a Wile E. Coyote-esque sense of adventure). Brian gets in close with a group led by Dom (Vin Diesel), but when he falls for Dom's sister, Mia (Jordana Brewster), his loyalties become tested. Things are also further complicated when he goes from grudging respect to blossoming bromance with Dom. 

     Brian is introduced to the underground racer scene, where he immediately get's owned by Dom, losing a car in the process in every way you can lose a car (he raced Dom for pink slips to prove his worth, and turns out that these cars don't react well to being shot up by rival gang members). Owing Dom a "10-second car (a car that will run a quarter-mile in 10 seconds), Brian goes to work for him, trying to get deeper into his world, so to speak. 

     We're also introduced to the concept of nitrous oxide (NOS) in automotive racing. Not to go into the science of it too deep (basically, it allows more gas to get into the pistons, which causes an increase in horsepower and a decrease in gas milage, one supposes), but suffice to say NOS is to cars as spinach is to Popeye, complete with fiery exhaust. 

     Is Dom the leader of the Accord Gang? Can Brian get the girl and still get his job done? Does nitrous oxide really make that much a difference in a car's speed? Isn't there an easier way to hijack a truck?

     Spoilers: Yes. No. Maybe. Probably.

     Many candy-colored cars are destroyed, and a bit of scenery is chewed, but, for my money, it's still a pretty good time. Cars go fast. Pretty people drive furiously. That's pretty much what we signed up for, and it is delivered. I wish there were five more movies like it, with a sixth one in the pipe.

Thoughts on The Fast and the Furious:

The movie is a lot like the cars at the center of it all: loud, fast, bright and colorful and filled with stuff that is mostly unnecessary, put still pretty to look at.

You gotta wonder what do these kids do to afford tens of thousands of dollars of high-tech auto parts? Do they all hijack trucks?

If you try to go under a semi tractor trailer as they do in this film, update your will and take your head shots while you still have one.

Using the "Fast and Furious" method of truck hijacking requires a lot of cooperation from the truck driver. After harpooning the truck, the hiackers use the cables to scurry to the vehicle from their own Honda Accords. If the driver would brake or speed up, the would-be hijacker would be street pizza in short order. Also, legally, I think the truck driver would be in fine shape; after all, they just harpooned his truck.

Paul Walker's character, Brian O'Conner, must have graduated from the same law enforcement school as Keanu Reeves' character, Johnny Utah, in Point Break. If not, I bet they had a similar class schedule.

This is one of Michelle Rodriguez's first roles, before she would go on to piss everyone off in "Lost" and be removed in fairly short order. She does throw a convincing punch, though.

You know Dom's sister, Mia (Jordana Brewster) is a good girl because she wears modest clothing (at least for the cultural norms), she doesn't hijack trucks, and drives sensibly except when a family member is in trouble or she's taking part in a mating ritual.


(For more from Dave and the great podcast he co-hosts, go to: )


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