There are people who will be getting their driver's licenses this year who were born after the the first Fast & Furious movie premiered in 2001. That. Is. Insane. It's also a testament to the longevity of this franchise, which has now churned out eight films over sixteen years with the latest installment, The Fate of the Furious. But what if you missed a movie or two along the way? Well, don't worry, because I've put together a Fast & Furious recap to get you up to speed before The Fate of the Furious.
The franchise has changed a lot in the nearly two decades since its inception. The original film was mostly underground street racing, with simple action and a simple plot. It proved to be a massive hit, and spawned three more street racing-based sequels. With the fifth film in the franchise, Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson joined the cast and the genre switched from a racing focus to a more traditional type of action movie (though one that's still pretty heavy on the cars). That formula was utilized in parts six and seven as well, and the franchise is now one of the most successful action film series ever. So to see what you've missed, have a look below:
The Fast And The Furious (2001)
In the first film, undercover cop Brian O'Conner (Paul Walker) infiltrates a street racing gang led by Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) that is suspected of pulling off truck heists. Despite the crew's guilt, Brian grows close to Dom, his girlfriend Letty (Michelle Rodriguez), and especially his sister Mia (Jordana Brewster), with whom Brian becomes romantically involved. Brian eventually reveals himself to be a cop to Dom, but rather than arresting him, allows him to go free at the end of the film.
2 Fast 2 Furious (2003)
Brian is the only returning character for this sequel, which sees him go on a new police mission to take down a drug lord — though he's now under close supervision following his actions in the first film. He recruits his childhood friend (and convict) Roman (Tyrese Gibson) to be his new partner, and also brings aboard his friend Tej (Ludacris) as a member of his team. After taking down the drug lord, Brian and Roman make off with some dirty money, ensuring that Brian has gone full-crooked cop.
The Fast And The Furious: Tokyo Drift (2006)
The black sheep of the franchise, this Japan-set film is about racing that involves "drifting," and features no one from the previous two films (save for a cameo from Diesel at the end). In fact, it wasn't even acknowledged by the rest of the franchise until several years later, when it was placed chronologically after Fast & Furious 6. The film's most significant contribution to the series is the character of Han (Sung Kang), who is a member of Dom's team in subsequent films.
Fast & Furious (2009)
The fourth film in the franchise sees the reunion of the original cast of Walker, Diesel, Rodriguez, and Brewster. Dom and his team are hijacking trucks in the Dominican Republic when Dom decides to disband the team. He later learns that Letty was murdered after the disbanding by a drug lord named Arturo Braga (John Ortiz). Brian crosses paths with Dom as he is pursuing Braga, and the pair join forces again. After taking down Braga, Dom turns himself into police and is sentenced to a long prison sentence, but Brian and Mia — now reunited — intercept his prison bus at the end of the film. The film also introduces Gisele (Gal Gadot), who works for Braga undercover and eventually joins Dom's team and begins a relationship with Han.
Fast Five (2011)
Picking up where the last film ended, Brian and Mia free Dom from the prison bus and flee to Rio de Janeiro. There, they participate in a heist that draws the attention of U.S. Diplomatic Security Service agent Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson), who believes erroneously that Dom's team was responsible for the murder of DEA agents completed by a different gang during the heist. Hobbs arrests Dom and Brian, but their prison transport is assaulted by the actual murderous gang and his men are killed. Hobbs joins forces with Dom and Brian to take down the gang in order to get revenge, and they assemble a new team including Han, Gisele, Roman, and Tej. After bringing down the gang, Hobbs gives the pair a 24 hour head start to escape before arresting them again. At the end of the film, Hobbs is given a file that shows Letty is still alive.
Fast & Furious 6 (2013)
The crew has spread out around the world. Dom lives with Elena (Elsa Pataky), a Brazilian police officer he began seeing in the previous film, while Brian and Mia now have a baby together. Hobbs is on the hunt for a terrorist named Owen Shaw (Luke Evans), and he seeks Dom's help in taking him down. In order to convince him to help, Hobbs shows him the photo of Letty, and Dom leaves Elena to try and discover the truth. He assembles his team, and it's discovered that Shaw was connected to Braga, and that Letty was never killed. Instead, she has amnesia, and has been working for Shaw. Lots of fighting takes place, Gisele dies, Letty rejoins Dom and company, and Shaw is defeated and incapacitated. Hobbs grants pardons to Dom and his team for their help in taking down Shaw. In a post-credits scene, Han is killed in Tokyo by a mystery man played by Jason Statham, who calls Dom and threatens him.
Furious 7 (2015)
It turns out that Statham's character is Owen Shaw's brother, Deckard Shaw, who is now looking to avenge his comatose brother. A man named Mr. Nobody (Kurt Russell) approaches Dom and offers his help in dealing with Deckard in exchange for his crew stealing a computer program and the hacker who created it back from a terrorist. Dom puts together his team and accepts, with Brian telling Mia that this will be the last job for him. The team, of which Hobbs is now a part, take down Deckard, obtain the computer program for Mr. Nobody — who turns out to be a government agent whose help was sought by Hobbs — and rescue the hacker Ramsey (Nathalie Emmanuel), who of course becomes a member of Dom's team. At the end of the film, Brian retires to dedicate his life to Mia and raising his family.
And that brings me to The Fate of the Furious. In the new film, Dom works to take down his own team for unknown reasons, coerced into doing so by a terrorist named Cipher (Charlize Theron). Most of the characters are back, save for Brian and Mia (Walker of course died during the filming of Furious 7), and even Deckard Shaw now works with the team to bring down Cipher. Oh, and Helen Mirren is playing Shaw's mother, so that could end up being pretty significant.
The plan is for at least two more films after number eight, so if you're not caught up yet, I'd recommend doing so as soon as possible.