The first Fast & Furious film that I saw was the seventh, and yet it was everything I hoped for. If it had been two hours of The Rock hulking out of a cast I probably would have been happy and yet that wasn’t even the daftest moment. It also got me thinking. If I can jump into this franchise at number seven with little to no issue, what happens if I watch the entire thing backwards. A few months later I’ve done exactly that.
And honestly, I don’t think it made the slightest difference to my understanding of these films. The Fast & Furious world isn’t one that coexists with logic, and the simple storylines aren’t exactly hard to pick up. In fact, I would say that I am actually less knowledgeable about the death and return of Letty having now seen all the films than I was working on pure guesswork when watching number seven.
There is also a host of characters who seem to drop in and out depending on whether they were available around filming. Considering the films appear to be Vin Diesel’s baby the fact he goes missing for a couple of them (and only has a cameo in Tokyo Drift) is a bit weird. Tokyo Drift is also awful by the way so please don’t bother with it. Paul Walker also seems to go in and out of being a cop depending on whether it is necessary for the movie and a lot of ‘the family’ that they look so close to in the later films are only bit parts in these early ones.
Critiquing Fast & Furious plotholes, though, seems a waste of time. It’s also not an issue. The real problem with watching The Fast & Furious backwards is you realise just how big the leap in quality between Fast & Furious (2009) and Fast 5 was. The franchise only hits its stride when it gives up on making street racing movies and becomes The Avengers with cars. Between 2 Fast 2 Furious and the version mentioned above it seriously struggles and no matter what order you are watching them in you could easily skip those three.
And yet the first film is rather good. Sure, it’s a Point Break remake, but then again it did a hell of a lot better than the actual Point Break remake so it is hard to hold that against it. However, in an entirely different way from its franchise buddies it hits the mark. It’s a much smaller film than what they become and has a bit of the grit that it most definitely lacks at it worse and which at this point it has discarded.
What’s fascinating about the Fast & Furious films is that their central message – apart from cars being cool and girls looking good in bikinis – is about family. These incredibly diverse movies are based around the idea of a gang and how that gang look out for each other and in a way they get that idea across better than many other films. It was why that scene at the end of Fast & Furious 7 that said goodbye to Paul Walker was so affecting and having now gone back and watched them all I’m sure if I were to watch it again I’d be blubbering like a baby.
I can by no means sit here and recommend you watch all seven Fast & Furious films, and I also can’t claim that there is any benefit to doing it backwards. However, there is still something magical about this franchise. If you miss out the bad years and go straight from the first one to the fifth, then you are seeing how a small movie about drag racing grew to become arguably the biggest franchise in the world. It’s one hell of a journey, and there is a lot of fun to be had along the way.