f9

‘Fast and Furious 9’: What You Need To Know & What’s Changed Over The Course Of The Film Series

Fast and Furious 9 (or F9) is part of a series of films that spans nine movies as well as one spin off film. Suffice it to say, there is a lot that goes on in the Fast and Furious universe, and it can’t simply be boiled down to racing and cool stunts. Here’s what you need to know for the upcoming film F9

The Timeline

The Fast and Furious movies can get complicated in places. There are a ton of ancillary characters to keep track of, but the story mainly revolves around Vin Diesel’s Dominic Toretto, Paul Walker’s Brian O’Connor, and Michelle Rodriguez’s Letty Ortiz. Eventually, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson’s Luke Hobbs becomes a character the movies focus on. Other notable stars that have found their way to the franchise include Charlize Theron, Jason Statham, Gina Carano, Rhonda Rousey, and in the upcoming F9, John Cena, to name a few. In addition to the fates of some of these characters, this opens up the conversation to the trickiest aspect of the Fast and the Furious universe. The in-movie timeline gets pretty windy, despite the release dates of the films. As a quick and easy reference, here is a list of the Fast and Furious movies in order of release.

  1. The Fast and the Furious (2001)
  2. 2Fast 2Furious (2003)
  3. The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift (2006)
  4. Fast and Furious (2009)
  5. Fast Five (2011)
  6. Fast & Furious 6 (2013)
  7. Furious 7 (2015)
  8. Fate of the Furious (2017)
  9. Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw (2019)
  10. F9 (2021)

The first two films, The Fast and the Furious (2001) and 2Fast 2Furious (2003) are where they should be as the start of the film series’ canon. All is well and good until you debate which movie you should watch after viewing those two. An article by CinemaBlend notes that “2003’s The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift” should be next in line “if you’re watching in the franchise’s order of release” (CinemaBlend 2020). However, the story these films lay out for their audience actually suggests that next in line is Fast and Furious (2009). This is because of the appearance of a character named Han Lue who dies in Tokyo Drift. Han is also seen in Fast Five (2011) and Fast & Furious 6 (2013). This particular storytelling choice then makes Fast and Furious (2009) as well as the two films after it, prequels to Tokyo Drift. The movie series’ prequel streak ends in Fast & Furious 6 (2013) when the film revisits and retcons the circumstances surrounding Han’s death. After seeing Fast & Furious 6 you can safely begin to entertain watching Tokyo Drift (even though it was retconned). As the movie where Han’s death actually occurs, it would make sense that it would come next. From here on, viewers can immerse themselves without any timeline oddities. To make simple what was explained above, here is the revised watchlist when considering the in-movie canon.

  1. The Fast and the Furious (2001)
  2. 2Fast 2Furious (2003)
  3. Fast & Furious (2009)
  4. Fast Five (2011)
  5. Fast & Furious 6 (2013)
  6. The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift (2006)
  7. Furious 7 (2015)
  8. Fate of the Furious (2017)
  9. Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw (2019)
  10. F9 (2021)

For more insights as to the reasoning behind this viewing order, CinemaBlend’s The Fast And Furious Movies’ Timeline Explained (from which a majority of this information was sourced) covers some of the finer details of the Fast and Furious in-movie canon.

Fast and Furious movie posters

The Fast Saga’s Inception

Now that we have the complexities out of the way, we can move on to how the series began. According to an article by the Chicago Tribune, the movie was inspired by a combination of two things. The first being a film that came out before The Fast and the Furious called Point Break (1991), which was a movie about an FBI agent going undercover to infiltrate a community of surfers (some of whom are bank robbers). The Fast and the Furious 2001 film isn’t that much different, as Paul Walker’s character (also an undercover cop) infiltrates a gang of notorious car thieves to learn their identities. Both main characters also develop complex relationships with the people they are sent to investigate.The other key source of inspiration for The Fast and the Furious was an article published by Vibe called “Racer X”. The article, written in 1998, covered “real-life illegal street-racing gangs in California” (Chicago Tribune, 2019). This aspect lends itself nicely to Dominic Toretto’s own gang, since they not only steal cars, they use them in street races as well. From this starting point however, the long road that represents the Fast saga twists and turns from a narrative perspective as often as the characters themselves.

The Series’ Evolution

Ever since the first movie in 2001, the Fast & Furious movies have always been about family. But at a certain point, it stops being about other things, such as the racing aspect the first film introduces its viewers to. Revisiting the Chicago Tribune’s article, 2Fast 2Furious is where the series’ first divergence is hinted at. In this movie, the action becomes “more cartoonish” and is otherwise referred to as a “bizarre follow-up” (Chicago Tribune, 2019). It introduces what the series will later become widely known for, which is its insane car related stunts. The next movie, Tokyo Drift, sees a change in both directors and writers as Justin Lin and Chris Morgan respectively are brought on. From there on, they direct and write pretty much every movie that comes out following Tokyo Drift. With each movie that comes out after Fast and Furious (2006), the stunts get progressively bigger and badder, as does the action. It isn’t until Fast Five however, that the series completely does away with any semblance of realism and “fully embrace[s] the ludicrousness” of the Fast and Furious universe (Chicago Tribune, 2019). In short, the Fast and Furious movies become off-the-wall crazy, not bearing much resemblance to the movie that started it all back in 2001. 

Reception and Final Thoughts

Believe it or not, despite how far removed the Fast saga might be from reality, it actually made the franchise that much better. A quick glance at the reviews for each movie on Rotten Tomatoes shows that, since Fast Five, the franchise trends upwards in terms of reception. All in all, Fast Five set the tone going forward quite successfully. The Chicago Tribune also affirms this notion and notes that this new formula would prove worthwhile, as Fast Five “grossed $626 million worldwide, a number [which] would only increase with future installments” (Chicago Tribune, 2019). 

By now you might be asking yourself, “okay, what do I do with all this info?” Well, to quote the Notorious B.I.G., “if you don’t know, now you know”. All jokes aside though, if you were on the fence about watching the upcoming F9 before, hopefully this article piques your interest in the franchise. F9 is set to release on June 25th, 2021.