Fast and the Furious: A Post-FF8 Buyer’s Guide

all representations of dollar signs are purely a joke and should not appear in your eyes (image derived from image created by Wikipedia’s own Rayukk)

The Fate of the Furious, the 8th Fast and the Furious movie, is now out, and everyone is talking about the same thing: what bets should we make on various key elements of the FF franchise? Will we see more about family in FF9 than in FF8, or less? And what about street car booty lady parties?

Why Bill?

I’m not going to lie: I’m a newcomer to this franchise. You can find more established authorities than me. But I bring a fresh eye and a programmer’s analytical intuitions. Plus, I’m going on my gut with these, which means you get the fastest take possible — and time means money. Even in this crowded market, I feel these reasons are enough to make me worth taking a chance on.

Of course, you shouldn’t even be reading this advice if you haven’t already seen the movie yourself. Make sure and do so before continuing — have your own opinion about these things before reading mine. Also: spoilers.

Okay, enough of the sales pitch. Let’s get down to business.

NOS — SHORT

Compared to early films in the series, FF8 was light on NOS. But for a modern FF flick, it was a heavy hitter: Cuban NOS won Dom a critical street race, and the team repeatedly used NOS in the final Siberian chase scene. I’m predicting that FF9 will pull back on this tool.

CORONA — LONG

Believe it or not, there are zero Coronas in this movie — even at the final barbecue. You can only go up from here folks, so the question is only this: how long do you want to go? Expect the number of Coronas to settle to around one to five per movie as this flavorless lager becomes more of a symbolic bonding tool between Dominic and various non-Brians.

BOOTY LADY CAR PARTIES — HOLD

This is a tough call. Booty lady car parties are one of the blue chips of the Fast and Furious franchise. One wonders if street racing itself might fall off the map if it weren’t for how well they setup long shots of short skirted women’s rear ends.

I feel like I’m on the fence by calling “hold” here, but I think it’s the right call. The plotting requirements of the heavyweight modern FF movies make it easy to squeeze these scenes out, but the fan service expectations make it just as easy to squeeze more in. Better sit tight on this one.

STREET RACING — SHORT

Fate of the Furious opens with a completely insane, logic-defying, plot-significant race on the streets of Havana. This is an outlier for post Fast Five entries in the series. Expect FF9 to return to the more typical throwaway third act drag race.

FAMILY — HOLD

In many ways, FF8 is “Fate of the Familiest” — Turetto’s adopted family is pit against his blood family. That’s a whole lot of family going on.

I think that we’ll continue to see a lot of family, though. Even though Dominic himself turned on his friends, FF8 didn’t see the family unit itself stressed in any significant way. With the inclusion of the Shaw brothers and rumored cast tension with Dwayne Johnson, though, the unit itself may be stretched to the breaking point.

LUKE HOBBS — HOLD

Call me a skeptic on the “cast tension” story. The man was a professional wrestler, after all, and this movie was all about tension between the crew and Dominic. Perhaps he was just helping hype the movie. Time will be the ultimate proof on this one, though.

INEXPLICABLE MOONROOF CHAIN GUN TURRETS — HOLD

Just like in Fast Five, Fate of the Furious saw a car inexplicably sprout a manned chain gun from its moonroof. These chain gun turrets are, to me, a real cherry on top of the ridiculous FF car chase sundae when they show up. Say that I’ve gone soft if you like, but I expect we’ll see this again.

HAN — LONG

Han is dead in this movie, of course. One could argue that, like Coronas, one can only go long on Han. But one could also argue that, what with Han being dead, it’s safest to hold — Han’s not coming back, and it’s in the franchise’s interest to slowly forget that he ever existed.

FF8 makes a strong case for that latter position. Much like Dominic seemed to betray his team, the writers of FF8 seemed to betray our memory of Han by bringing Han’s murderers into the fold as family, even allowing Deckard to participate in the final barbecue and prayer.

Much like how Letty must have faith in Dominic even as he thwarts them at every turn, so we must have faith in the custodians of the FF mythos: Han was family, and will not be forgotten. Plus, Sean’s still out there, and it’s not like he’ll forget, right?

COMPUTER INSANITY — SHORT

I could be wrong here. But seriously: can there possibly be any more computer insanity than in this movie?

DRIVING IN REVERSE GEAR AT FULL SPEED — SHORT

I’ve come to believe that this is one of the blue chip FF series elements, right up there with booty lady car parties and NOS. Driving in reverse gear at full speed is here to stay, folks — you can’t have e-brake reverse stunts and maintain the frame of reference without them.

But that first street race scene sees Dominic win by running the last quarter mile or so completely in reverse with the car on fire. I think that may set the high water mark for the series.

THE O’CONNER FAMILY — LONG

It’s unclear how they’ll bring the O’Conner family into the picture while keeping Brian himself retired, but here’s hoping they pull Brian’s son Jack into the picture. It’s unlikely (kids are notoriously difficult to make work on screen), but it seems undignified to let the O’Conner clan languish on the sidelines after Paul Walker’s death.

ATLANTA — LONG

It’s not Rio or London, but they keep shooting parts of these flicks here. Yet no scenes in the actual movie are ever in Atlanta. And Luda’s from here. Why not bring the family to Atlanta for a change? Perhaps they can mix it up with some of our ATV street gangs.