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Here’s Your Rundown of the ‘Fast and the Furious’ Movies

The family in Fast X

Franchises can be daunting. When there are over 10 movies, you might not want to even attempt to get into something that vast. But some franchises are worth your time for the sheer amount of joy they bring. And the best example of this is The Fast and the Furious films.

The Fast and the Furious started as a movie about drag racing in Los Angeles and became a high stakes, action-packed franchise about family—and working with the government to take down big bads around the world. If you’ve kept up with the movies, it all makes sense. But if you haven’t, then you’re probably incredibly lost.

And not because the movies are hard to follow, but because literally so much has happened since that first Fast and the Furious movie that you’d have a hard time understanding how our favorite characters somehow went to space in a car. Don’t worry, though, I’m going to lead you through a brief rundown of what happened and what really matters in this franchise, so if you want to go into Fast X knowing a little about what’s happening, you’ll be somewhat caught up.

The beginning

Brian and Dom in the Fast and the Furious
(Universal/Getty Images)

At the start of the series, Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) and Brian O’Conner were not friends. But they became family as they started to work together. Brian (Paul Walker) was an FBI agent who went undercover in the drag racing scene and became friends with Dom. Throughout their time together, we meet characters like Roman Pearce (Tyrese Gibson) and Tej Parker (Ludacris). Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) was there from the start, but characters like Han (Sung Kang) and Ramsey (Nathalie Emmanuel) came later.

Even if the series started in a much different place, I think it was always going to end up as the action-packed franchise we’re in now, where Vin Diesel’s Dom is leading the family all over the world.

But the franchise really did just start with some petty crimes and drag racing. It was about the cars and evading the law and it was simple. Even when things changed slightly in both 2 Fast 2 Furious and Tokyo Drift, it was still about riding. Things started to really change in Fast Five and beyond.

Joining the Agency

the cast of furious 7
(Universal Pictures)

The team eventually joins the Agency, where Mr. Nobody (Kurt Russell) is their point of contact. But their connection with the government runs deep. From Brian’s own connection to the FBI to constantly having to work both with and against Luke Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson), the franchise went from being about drag racing to worldwide missions where bank vaults get pulled out of walls and attached to cars.

But the middle of the franchise also brought the passing of Paul Walker. The series responded with the most shocking yet wonderful honor: they keep Brian alive. During Furious 7, Dom and Brian have a heartfelt goodbye sequence set to “See You Again” by Charlie Puth and Wiz Khalifa—a nice send-off for Walker and his character. But throughout the subsequent movies, Dom will say things like, “Mia is going to meet Brian” (because Dom’s sister Mia, played by Jordana Brewster, is in a relationship with Brian), keeping Brian alive but always off on some other job or babysitting his and Mia’s kids.

It’s all tied into the more outrageous side of things that led this franchise to become something more than just a movie about cars and racing.

Where we are now

Dom and Letty in F9
(Universal Pictures)

The minute the team joined forces with the Agency, it was all about being a family and working with the government to do what was necessary—whether it was Dom driving cars from a moving plane or everyone escaping with vehicles by driving them through three different high-rise buildings. We went from drag racing with “NOS” to taking cars to the highest and wildest places. Like space, which literally happens in F9.

Now, the family is working with the Agency, they have their house they all come back to for family dinners, and Han actually survived Tokyo Drift. As revealed in F9, Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham) didn’t kill Han thanks to an assist from Mr. Nobody, and now everyone is fine with Shaw because he realized his mistakes (and Han is fine, so there’s no beef in their eyes).

The Fate of the Furious (a.k.a. Fast and Furious 8) and F9 also introduced some new characters you should know about: the villain Cipher (Charlize Theron), Deckard’s mom Queenie (Helen Mirren), and Dom’s brother Jakob (John Cena).

Fast X hits theaters this week, so if you don’t have time to watch (or rewatch) the entire franchise, at least now you know about these key parts before going in.

(featured image: Universal Pictures)

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Rachel Leishman (She/Her) is an Assistant Editor at the Mary Sue. A writer her whole life but professionally starting back in 2016 who loves all things movies, TV, and classic rock. Resident Spider-Man expert, official Leslie Knope, actually Yelena Belova. Wanda Maximoff has never done anything wrong in her life. Star Wars makes her very happy. New York writer with a passion for all things nerdy. Yes, she has a Pedro Pascal podcast. And also a Harrison Ford one.