It should be no surprise to anyone that Furious 7 would dominate the box office on its opening weekend, earning a worldwide total of $384 million dollars. Those numbers don't lie. Everyone is loving this series and the new direction its taken since its fifth installment in 2011, Fast Five.
With that fifth entry in the franchise, the series aimed to pump some new fuel into what was threatening to become a waning series, by embracing a more heist-style genre theme, while also expanding its characters and cast. The series went from appealing to niche audiences who love the import car scene, to exploding into an action-blockbuster franchise.
Needless to say, there are a lot of reasons why this series is so awesome - seven, to be exact!
7 Vin Diesel Explodes Into The Mainstream
Okay, the first film in the series wasn't literally his first movie role, but it is the one that first introduced Vin Diesel to a much wider audience, as one of the leads in the film.
Before this, he had played the now-iconic role of Richard B. Riddick in Pitch Black, the original sci-fi thriller that birthed the character. But the original The Fast And The Furious made $40 million on its opening weekend, and after staying in theaters for 19 weeks, its domestic box office take was $144, 533, 925 - with a worldwide total of $207, 283, 925.
The only other film featuring Vin that had made this much money was Saving Private Ryan, but he played only a small role in that blockbuster. It was indeed this first Fast and Furious film that made Vin Diesel a legitimate Hollywood movie star and a household name.
6 Quality: From Bad, To Great
Though that first film did make a lot of money at the box office on a $38 million dollar budget, the franchise didn't garner much love from critics. Of course, one can't neglect to mention what is arguably the worst entry into this series, 2 Fast 2 Furious. The studio was hoping to get Diesel back for the sequel but he declined to jump back into the role (and with that script, who could blame him?) and Tyrese Gibson was brought in to team up with the late Paul Walker. That film spawned many disparaging jokes about its bromance and homoerotic moments between its two male leads, and was ridiculed for its terrible script and boring plot.
Matters weren't helped by the third film, Tokyo Drift. Although it did appeal to some hardcore street racing/drifting fans, critics were still poo-pooing the series, even when its fourth installment brought Brian, Mia and Dom back together.
But with Fast Five, they finally discovered a new formula that brought huge critical and financial victories. Not too many franchises have come back from the dead like this so late in the game. It went from being an almost-killed overkill to the phenomenon that it is now - and it really is all thanks to that fifth film.
Another noteworthy achievement Fast Five gave the franchise, was the inclusion of ethnically and internationally diverse actors, actresses, and filmmakers. There was Vin, Tyrese, and Ludacris; Michelle Rodriguez brought back from the dead as Letty; Sung Kang as Han, as well as the inclusion of Puerto Rican celebs Don Omar and Tego Calderon, and the new Israeli Wonder woman Gal Gadot. There was Elsa Pataky who hails from Spain, Jordana Brewster who's half Brazilian, and the UK's finest Jason Statham. And that's just in front of the camera.
Behind the camera, the series had John Singleton helm 2 Fast 2 Furious, and Justin Lin directing every film starting from Tokyo Drift to Furious 6. And with Furious 7, Lin passed the high-octane torch to James Wan, born in Malaysia, raised in Australia. Universal has an extremely valuable piece of real estate with this series, as it could be a great platform for international actors and filmmakers to make a name for themselves in Hollywood.
4 The Rock VS. Vin Diesel
This one should be pretty obvious. Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson was introduced in Furious Five, as Hobbs - a no-nonsense CIA agent who aimed to put Dom and his crew behind bars. He proved to be a formidable advisory to Dom and Brian's operations. And of course, it wasn't going to take long before Dom and Hobbs went at each other like the Hulk and the Thing.
That was a fight scene that Johnson and Diesel spent three weeks prepping for. But even without that epic fight scene, the tension between the two actors throughout the film was enough to entertain fans rushing to the theaters to see these two powerfully built stars. What this particular relationship has turned into, just 2 films later, is equally as satisfying.
3 Collateral Damage
With the most recent entry in the series, Furious 7, this franchise has now taken a firm step in the direction of a mega-huge blockbuster, by having Avengers-level destruction. Without getting into spoilers, what happens in the third act of this film has not happened before in a Fast and Furious film. They straight up demolish entire buildings and destroy city streets. The final 20 minutes is jam-packed with explosions and destruction, one may almost forget they are watching a movie in a series that initially began centered around cars. But, with the studio embracing the wide audience appeal, starting with Fast Five, each film has upped the ante in terms of its scale of action and stunt work.
During an interview, director James Wan spoke about the production scale on this 7th film. "Well, I think for me it wasn't so much trying to top what the previous films had done. For me it was more about- Vin and I talked about this very early on, when we talked about what we could do that was different. We wanted to do stuff that we hadn't quite seen before in other action films".
2 It's All In Good Fun
This franchise slowly but surely learned not to take itself so seriously, and embrace the absurd world in which it's set. While there are some crazy moments and stunts in the 2009 film Fast & Furious, the craziness really all began - again - with Lin directing Fast Five.
There was Dom dragging a gigantic safe on the back of his car through the streets of Rio - for that, they decided to completely throw all logic and physics out of the window. The series really began to turn into a live-action anime series, with cars and action and explosions.
The impossible action, along with very melodramatic macho soap-opera story elements, ended up making the films sillier, yet more enjoyable - simply because there's no holding back. Furious 6 had Dom leaping out of a moving car and catching Letty in mid-air; these characters who we once believed were just simple criminal street-racing enthusiasts had transitioned into full-blown superheroes. And the box office numbers for the latest installment solidifies the fact that everyone is loving it.
Furious 7 also features the gang exiting the back of a plane... Each in their own individual car. Expect them to land perfectly via a parachute. "Leave your brain at the door" may be an applicable phrase here.
1 1. Beautifully Honoring Paul Walker
And they really do with this 7th film. No one expected the tragedy that took place in November of 2013, and there was a period of time in which the future of the unfinished film and the franchise in general was called into question. It was then decided that not only would the cast and crew complete the movie, but Walker's brothers would come onto set and stand in for Paul and act with the other actors.
Walker's family gave the studio their blessing, and everyone involved seemed to be confident in the final product that would be delivered April 3rd, 2015.
Furious 7 gives Brian O'Connor/Paul Walker a respectful, emotional and heartfelt send off at the end. “It was in some ways the hardest movie I ever had to do because the relationships that you see on film are so real,” Vin said at the film's screening. “When the tragedy happened, I lost my best friend. I lost my brother. “Please from my heart, know that we made this movie from our hearts,” Vin continues. “And know that this is our gift to you and more importantly, it’s for my brother there.” Vin then points to the image of Paul Walker on the big screen.