Two Women and Their Passionate Love For “The Fast and The Furious”
by Marie Lodi and Lola Pellegrino
Lola: In order to properly communicate our complex and glorious relationship to the most important thing that ever happened to us in our entire lives, it may be best to begin with a diagram.
A VIN DIAGRAM?
Let us first approach the most superficial layer of the Fast Universe’s divine beating heart: the plot.
Marie: The Fast and the Furious (2001) is about a police officer named Brian O’Conner (Paul Walker) who goes undercover as a street racer to reveal the identities of a team of truck hijackers, which is suspected to be Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) and his crew. As expected, there is an initial suspicion which makes way for opportunities to test who’s bein’ real or not. Both of these dudes eventually gain each others’ trust and respect, resulting in a hardcore bromance that stretches through more than a decade that includes SEVEN films now.
Lola: This has actually caused problems with F&F; world continuity. Tokyo Drift (2006) introduces new main characters aside from Brian and Dom. One of these characters was loved so much by audiences that even though he dies, they bring him back in future movies. Which have to, by necessity, take place in the past, before that character dies. With each subsequent “future” movie we have gotten closer to the “present” of Tokyo Drift, bringing that character inexorably closer towards his own death, but never quite actually getting there. Fans have noticed. And they appreciate this consideration deeply.
Marie: They all have interesting subplots or complex romantic situations, and of course, there’s the shocking story twists. I’d say more but I am TRYING to limit my amount of spoilers for any future F&F; converts.
The movies started off as street-racing films, but evolved to heist films with complex story lines. Fast Five (2011) was important because it was the film that marked the transition. It also introduced our favorite cinematic trope of “assembling the team,” which is when there’s a call to arms and everyone gathers together to utilize each member’s special expertise so they can achieve a common goal. Fast and the Furious has just released their seventh installment, and the franchise only has gotten BETTER AND BETTER with each sequel. What other movies can you say that about? Let’s be real — most other movies end up being a joke after a third sequel, or by that time they end up being rebooted (the Spiderman and Batman movies, etc.)
Lola: You might think Fast and the Furious is about ACTION and POWER. DEAD WRONG it’s about ACTION FRIENDSHIPS and POWER FAMILIES. After infusing my body with the power of the Fast & Furious hexology in preparation for this article, I realized that it’s not about the plot at all. It’s about the relationships. We’re drawn in because it’s like a crew of IRL friends — when you’re hanging out, you don’t really remember what you do. You remember that you were there for each other, and then maybe you also blew up some shit or dissembled a drug cartel. I cannot remember the actual plot of any of these movies, but the incredible action montages? They’re burned indelibly into my brain. Fast and Furious: The One With the Plane. Fast and Furious: The One Where They Jump Off the Cliff.
Marie: I think this is what truly what resonates with the fans aka us “furies.” The characters talk about the importance of family A LOT. IT’S JUST SO BEAUTIFUL. You can tell that this is how they feel about each other IRL as well.
Lola: The actors are just likeable humans in general. Friends have been brought to tears by the sight of Vin Diesel covering Rihanna’s “Stay,” while they murmur tearfully, “He’s such a special person.” I mean. He was also so cool in the 1980s that he made music that was borderline unlistenable.
Marie: Even Dame Helen Mirren wants a piece of that Diesel.
Marie: I was into Fast and the Furious way back when these movies were solely known as street-racing flicks. Racing was popular in my town then, and on weekend nights I used to meet up with other racer groupies to check out the souped-up cars. The rendezvous location was a Del Taco, the last illuminated venue everyone could meet up at to gossip over Macho Nachos before venturing into the darkness of the surrounding agriculture fields where the illegal races were held. This is probably why the racing part of the movies was what resonated with me at first. Then of course there was Paul Walker’s Siberian Husky eyes and the rippling biceps of one Vin Diesel. I remember a scene in the movie where the guys drive down the Pacific Coast Highway and stop by a famous seafood restaurant in Malibu called Neptune’s Net. I asked my then-boyfriend to take me there so I could get reenact that scene and get me some fried scrimps!
Years later, I decided to watch the whole series completely through and document via Instagram screencaps. That’s when people I knew started to come out of the woodwork, confessing their mutual love for the series. I was SHOCKED! I didn’t think it was “cool” to be into the Fast and the Furious films nor did I think anyone else I knew liked them too. Kindred F&F; souls emerged from all over! When I found out you loved Fast and the Furious as well, it really took our friendship to another level of glorious heights!
Lola: YES. I have a crew that goes to each movie’s premiere, and have for each movie since 2001. And then, of course, you are so important to me that the only time I put down the uplifted praise hand that was raised for the entire duration of Fast Six was to text that back to you. Straight from the Lodi-Pellegrino Collection housed in the Power
Friendship Archives at the Library of Congress in Washington, DC:
Marie: F&F; is a great example of how there is no such thing as a guilty pleasure.
Lola: Let’s all test this hypothesis by experiencing the essential distilled element of F&F; by watching this video supercut of every gear shift in every movie. Do you feel guilty or embarrassed? Check your body. No, you feel fucking amped and excited about the future, and about cars.
Marie: You feel ~sensuale~. Or at least, I do.
Lola: We all know my problem with Michelle Rodriguez aka Letty in these movies. I want her to touch my face really softly or just drive me places. Just in time for summer, my style direction is two sweaty A-shirts with a dark bra underneath. Elevate your understanding.
Another moment where F&F; has inspired my life path: darting through morning rush hour traffic with a latte in one hand, maxing out the stereo on Swans to pick up you and Krista from each airport in sequence was my contribution to our own “assembling-the-team” montage.
Marie: Hell yeah! There’s been times where I’d invoke Dom Toretto and (carefully) speed down the streets of downtown L.A. for a brief moment before reverting back to memaw status at a safe MPH.
To get serious for a mome, something that I think is really important, but at the same time saddens me that we even have to call it out, is the ethnic diversity of the cast. Is there any other film series that has such a multicultural ensemble cast of actors and actresses?
Lola: There’s been four different directors including three bros of color. John Singleton who did 2, Justin Lin who did movies 3–6 and now James Wan with 7. It’s been interesting as a subject of race critiques — which is to say, actually, not so much critiques as praise. Yes, even academics are part of the Fast Family. Our girl Roxane Gay breaks it down in this piece. I love it because nobody is played to type but it’s not “colorblind” either.
Marie: And we have strong female characters in F&F.; The women aren’t waiting around letting the dudes do all the work. They’re kicking ass and racing these cars just like the guys. BADASS. MMA fighter Ronda Rousey is in Furious 7 and I am SO excited about that. I know you’ll be into this scene, Lo.
Lola: The premiere of Fast Six is where I obtained the free promotional poster that is the last thing I see before I go to bed each night and as I wake up each morning. I may have covered up a quote from Richard Siken’s “You Are Jeff” but what I covered it up with…was merely more poetry.
Lola: All of these factors put together — the real-life cast friendships, the fandom — made it extra fucking sad when Paul Walker died suddenly in December 2013 from a car crash.
Marie: We don’t have to discuss the irony of that — it’s just too fucking sad. His death really showed the magnitude of the relationships within the cast. It was depressing watching the reactions of his death from his co-stars. Tyrese’s Facebook posts were incredibly heartbreaking.
I was simultaneously nervous and excited about watching Furious 7 because I knew this was Paul’s last film. I wondered how they’d say goodbye to both him and his character respectfully while keeping the vibe of the films intact. Every time a new sequel comes out I get all countdown status but this time it was bittersweet. I don’t want to give away too much, but the sendoff for Paul was so fucking powerful. You could see it in all of the actors’ eyes how emotional that was to shoot. It was like breaking the fourth wall without actually breaking the fourth wall.
The camaraderie amongst the actors is staunchly apparent onscreen and spills over so strongly into their real lives. Vin even ended up naming his new baby daughter Pauline in honor of Paul! How cute is that? VIN DIESEL YOU MUSCLES WITH A HEART OF GOLD!!!!! I seriously can’t think of another movie series that is built around these two opposite themes — intense, fantasy-like action and gut-wrenching loyalty. The characters will literally take a bullet for each other. You feel like they’d do the same thing in real life.
Lola Pellegrino has plenty where that came from. Invoke her here.