6 Moments That Prove Fast & Furious Was Always Ridiculous Before Fast 5
Fast 5 is widely acknowledged as the pivotal moment when the Fast & Furious franchise finally lost its grip on the boundaries of physics and became completely outrageous, but the truth is that the saga was always silly. Much has changed since the original 2001 movie. But, while Fast & Furious’ focus may have shifted from underground LA street racing to firing Ludacris and Tyrese into space, each movie has stuck to the series’ principles of full-throttle action at the expense of realism. Although Fast 5 and the notorious safe chase are often blamed for the departure into fantasy, there are many earlier moments that prove how ridiculous the series has always been.
Before Fast 5 revolutionized the franchise with a critically-acclaimed rebrand, the preceding Fast & Furious entries were comparatively low-key. The Fast and the Furious saw Paul Walker’s Brian O’Conner peel back the curtain covering underground racing, while 2 Fast 2 Furious left behind Dominic Toretto’s world entirely with another undercover cop caper. Tokyo Drift returned to the series’ racing roots, while Fast & Furious once again scrutinized Brian’s unorthodox approach to law enforcement. While action-packed, these scenarios were significantly less high stakes than nukes and cyberterrorism. However, while the settings may differ, closer inspection reveals that Fast & Furious films have always been ridiculous, without the need for world-ending consequences. These six scenes, in particular, prove it.
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6 The Train Race – The Fast And The Furious
While the original The Fast and the Furious is probably best known for its “Point Break with cars” premise, the movie that started it all certainly didn’t lack action set pieces. As is befitting for a movie about cars, The Fast and the Furious boasted a number of impressive and occasionally questionable driving sequences. None, however, are as significant as the film’s climactic train race.
After building up to a head-to-head battle between Brian and Dom, the movie finally shows the pair drag racing side-by-side. This culminates in a ludicrous sequence that combines many classic Fast & Furious ingredients. Not only does the quarter-mile drag race take around 100 seconds (suggesting that the duo are moving at a painfully pathetic 9 miles per hour), but the scene features a mid-race breakdown, multiple uses of nitrous, and Dom’s car tilting straight up in the air for the first few meters. Coupled with Brian and Dom simultaneously crossing the line just ahead of a speeding train, The Fast and the Furious’ final race provided the blueprint for all the franchise’s future silliness.
5 Drifting Around A Car Park – Tokyo Drift
Basing an entire movie around the concept of drifting is inherently preposterous. However, this didn’t stop the third Fast & Furious movie from proving that the fastest route between two points is often not a straight line, but actually to move at a 45-degree angle, ruining as many tires as possible. Few moments showcase Tokyo Drift’s disdain for rubber better than the first racing sequence between protagonist Sean and Yakuza-affiliated baddie Takashi “D.K”.
Not only does this Tokyo Drift sequence repeat the Fast & Furious trope of magically transforming the scene’s environment as soon as it’s obvious more space is needed, but the set piece contains several physics-defying idiosyncrasies. Not only does Sean repeatedly crash into things at high speed, only to drive away as if nothing had happened, but D.K’s drift up a spiraling drive seems to break all the laws of gravity. While it’s understandable that certain moments are enhanced for dramatic effect, Tokyo Drift takes this to new extremes.
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4 The Boat Jump – 2 Fast 2 Furious
The Fast & Furious franchise has carved out a niche as the place to perform improbable catches with cars. Whether it’s catching people with cars, cars with other cars, or cars with giant magnets, almost every film features vehicles acting like a particularly athletic outfielder. Although later Fast & Furious installments push this trend from the sublime to the ridiculous, it’s arguable that no catches have topped the outrageous boat jump from 2 Fast 2 Furious.
The scene is a masterclass in OTT action. Not only does it feature some of the most laughable dialogue in the series, with a wide-eyed Brian repeatedly asking Roman whether “you’ve got my back, bro,” the exchange culminates in the ex-LAPD officer somehow launching a Yenko Camaro perfectly on top of a sailing super yacht in the middle of a river. Nothing about the scene makes logical sense. However, it is an undeniably entertaining reminder that Fast & Furious’ obsession with perfectly landing cars on top of things goes back a long way before Fast 5.
3 The Rat Bucket – 2 Fast 2 Furious
It’s not just all-out action that makes a movie ridiculous. Sometimes, a film’s more restrained moments can actually better highlight just how silly what’s going on actually is. This is certainly the case with 2 Fast 2 Furious. One moment in particular, featuring the villainous Cole Hauser, a traumatized Mark Boone Junior, and complicit Eva Mendes, pushes the usually light-hearted Fast & Furious franchise into decidedly dark, mustache-twirlingly evil territory.
While trying to persuade a detective (Boone Junior) to give him a window in which to deliver a drug package, Carter Verone (Hauser) places a rat in a bucket on the detective’s stomach. By heating the bucket from the outside, he plans to make the rat eat through the detective’s stomach for freedom, unless he gets what he wants. While this 1984-esque sequence is incredibly gruesome, it is also gratuitously complex in the tradition of the most prevaricatory Bond villains. Paired with a flimsy script, and this scene demonstrates in a more subtle way just how ridiculous Fast & Furious has always been.
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2 Dom The Detective – Fast & Furious
Vin Deisel’s Dominic Toretto, who is the series’ main focus after the untimely death of Paul Walker, is an undoubtedly skilled driver. However, as Fast & Furious has continued, the franchise has felt the need to expand his resume, equipping him skills that not many people in his position would logically have. This is most obvious in Fast & Furious 4 – often considered the weakest film in the series – when Dom suddenly and inexplicably turns into Sherlock Holmes.
Like the rat bucket scene in 2 Fast 2 Furious, this is a more understated example of how silly Fast & Furious can be as a franchise. However, there’s no doubt that the sight of Dom standing in the middle of a road at night, accessing his pseudo-mind palace to perfectly recreate a crash using only tire marks as evidence is just as ridiculous as swinging a car across a giant chasm using the remnants of a bridge. Although the action in the Fast & Furious 4 scene is comparatively low-key, it doesn’t make the contents any more believable.
1 Tanker Dodge – Fast & Furious
Although Fast & Furious’ quieter scenes are just as capable of being ridiculous as the major action set pieces, there’s no doubt that the franchise is best-known for its increasingly silly stunt work. Understandably, Fast 5’s reality-bending sequences are often blamed for the series going fully off the rails – probably due to the film’s mainstream success compared to earlier entries. However, arguably nothing in Fast 5 is as silly as the opening scene in Fast & Furious 4.
Setting the precedent for Fast 5’s heist premise, Fast & Furious begins with Dom and his crew hijacking an oil tanker in Puerto Rico. Unfortunately, things soon go awry when the tanker driver realizes what’s going on and starts shooting. Not only does the scene feature a classic car catch, with Michelle Rodriguez’s Letty leaping improbably onto Dom’s vehicle, but the action culminates in ridiculous fashion with Dom somehow perfectly timing his escape from a spinning, exploding trailer to slide right underneath to freedom. There’s no doubt that later Fast & Furious installments feature some literally unbelievable sequences. However, it’s also clear from this collection that the series favored the ridiculous from the outset.
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