The Family Values of ‘Fast & Furious’ – The Ringer

More than anything, the ‘Fast’ films are about family — but what exactly does that mean in a world of potentially lethal heists and impossible car stunts?

For more than a decade and a half, the Fast & Furious franchise has ripped, roared, and pressed every last NOS button on its way to action-franchise preeminence. To mark the release of The Fate of the Furious, the series’ eighth installment, we’re declaring it Fast 8 Week. Please join us in living life one quarter-mile at a time.

The Fast & Furious franchise began as nothing more than a loud and brash illegal street-racing chamber drama coanchored by the unequivocal handsomeness of Paul Walker and the inscrutable mumbly charisma of Vin Diesel. It was a series about cars, and so it relied heavily on the crutches of the vehicle-centric action flick: the elegant squeal of urgent rubber, the enhanced rumble of artisanal engines, the frantic close-ups of white-knuckle gear shifting, the sight of dishonorable cars careening through the air as various civilians scream and flee from bombastic explosions. But since those early days, the franchise has seamlessly rebooted itself as an increasingly byzantine epic, eschewing quaint tropes like racing cars on entry-level terrain in favor of heists that involve dragging a massive safe through the streets of Rio or parachuting armored cars into Azerbaijan as the last line of defense against a terrorist obtaining a Patriot Act–but-on-meth surveillance-state skeleton key. It’s been quite the journey, to put it mildly. And yet, for all these different iterations and evolutions and mutations, the franchise — spanning eight movies and at least four central character swaps — is at heart a story about community. Relationships. “Family,” as they so often put it.

Yeah, of course, ridiculous car things still happen, and there’s not much in the way of restraint. But even the cynics and the film snobs among us cannot be totally immune to the…

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