It's hard to imagine that the Fast and Furious movies have been going for about 20 years now. When it started it made a decent amount of money and was somewhat popular. At the time, the original was seen as a so-so action movie that was derivative of movies like "Point Break". However, as the series went on the plots and the stunts got crazier and crazier to the point were cars are fighting tanks and a team of street racers are capable of taking down assassins, mercenaries, and doomsday weapons. While all of this sounds incredibly stupid, and it is, I'd argue that the franchise actually got better as it got dumber.
When the series started, they were mostly serious films about street racing and criminal activity. They were decent for what they were, but they didn't really forge a unique identity for themselves outside of the niche culture of street racing. As the franchise went on, they needed to constantly up the stakes by constantly cranking up the action scenes. This led to moments like dragging a bank vault down the streets of Rio and literally driving cars between skyscrapers in the Middle East.
As the action was ramped up, so were the villains. The series went from rival racers and crime bosses to terrorists with their own army of super soldiers and super spies with technology straight out of a science fiction film. To many this would seem like the moment where the series "jumped the shark" and began its downward spiral in terms of quality. However, this is the moment where most of the mainstream and foreign audiences jumped on board the franchise.
As the films got more and more ridiculous they started to form this strange identity as live action cartoons. People would go to see them just to see how entertainingly stupid they would become. They became the kind of films that you find yourself laughing at in the best way. While I would never call the story and characters in these film "top tier cinema" they aren't really trying to be. The films know these things are ridiculous and has lots of fun with them. These are the films where you go to the theater, buy a big popcorn and soda, and smile from ear to ear as you watch the awesomely dumb action unfold.
The more bombastic these films got the more audiences seemed to also develop an emotional attachment to them, ironically. The audience, like the characters, see a unique and diverse surrogate family that looks out for each other. The "Fast Franchise" has been fascinating to watch change and evolve over time. With the ninth film heading to theaters this week, I thought it would be fun just to reflect of how beautifully ridiculous these films could get. After all what other film franchise has a car chase on a frozen body of water where they are being chased by a nuclear submarine and Dwayne Johnson's character redirects a torpedo sliding on ice, with his bear hands, into another car. These are the things that happen in these movies.