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Fast & Furious 6 Cheat Sheet: A Guide For Franchise Newbies

Fast And Furious 6

Their life of crime was in the rear-view mirror … until the dead came back to life. Or something?

In Fast & Furious 6, Dom Toretto (Vin Diesel) and his crew are pulled back into the high-speed game of fast cars and furious heists when a ghost from the past reemerges: Letty Ortiz (Michelle Rodriguez), Dom’s thought-dead girlfriend, who’s apparently alive and well overseas in Europe as part of a deadly crew of thieves. Federal agent and former adversary Luke Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) calls on Dom and pals to stop Letty and her team, but they’ll only agree to help if Hobbs can meet their price: a complete wipe of their criminal records.

Fundamentally, the Fast and the Furious movies are visceral and pulse-pounding thrill-rides. But there’s something deeper underneath the hood: six films filled with gradual character, relationship and story development, all of which is likely lost on newcomers arriving at Furious 6 as their introduction to the franchise … newcomers like yours truly.

If you’re a Fast and the Furious newbie like I am, then I hope you’ll find the following exchange helpful. I spoke with CBR Senior Editor and longtime F&F super-fan Stephen Gerding about the series, and what a complete newcomer to the films needs to know ahead of this week’s new entry.

Josh Wigler: Here’s what I know about the Fast and the Furious movies: They’re fast, and they’re furious. Do I really need to know more than that to enjoy the new one?

Stephen Gerding: No! And yes! I mean, that’s the pitch that sold the first one, and we all see how that turned out. However, if you’re thinking you can just leap into the franchise with any old installment, well — you’d be partially right. Most of the movies do work as standalone stories, though there’s a lot to be gained by watching them in order. The relationships build from movie to movie.

Let’s go to the beginning. Isn’t The Fast and the Furious just Point Break with the serial numbers filed off?

In a lot of ways, yeah, and it’s a comparison that’s helped along by Paul Walker kind of channeling Keanu Reeves throughout the movie. In fact, that’s the reason I initially avoided the first movie: Vin Diesel was no Patrick Swayze, and without Lori Petty, I wasn’t interested! But luckily, I caught the first two back-to-back on cable before Tokyo Drift dropped, and I became a believer. Still waiting for my skydiving scene, though.

Speaking of Diesel, where is he in 2 Fast 2 Furious? He’s supposed to be the main character, right? If he’s not around, why do I need to watch it?

Dom was off enjoying paradise and setting up another heist with Letty — more on her in a second. 2F2F actually introduces two of the latter films’ big players: Tyrese Gibson as Roman and Ludacris as Tej. Yeah, Diesel isn’t there, but it’s the first hint that there’s a much bigger universe out there beyond the small-time crew Walker infiltrates in the first movie.

That takes us to Tokyo Drift. No Diesel, no Walker. You’re saying I can’t skip this one?

A lot of folks will tell you you can, but I beg to differ. Yes, this is an odd, odd part of the F&F family, but it’s also Justin Lin’s first directorial effort in the franchise. In a lot of ways, it’s actually my favorite of the series simply because it’s such a weird installment. It was obviously a desperate attempt to cash in on the success of the first two in an almost direct-to-video fashion, but again, it introduces another character who becomes an even bigger deal later on: Sung Kang as Han.

ff-1And who the hell told you Vin Diesel’s not in it? Spoilers!

Whoa. OK. Well, he’s definitely back for the fourth film, Fast and Furious, which (A) should have been called Fast and 4ious and (B) looks like it brought the franchise back to basics.

It kind of did, yeah. And there’s an in-story explanation, though it hinges on happenstance and coincidence. But, and I’ll say this again and again, it sets things up for later flicks and as is typical for the series, it introduces at least one character who becomes a player in the F&F universe.

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However, with Fast Five, the entire franchise’s formula got tweaked. Instead of a movie centering on illegal street racing, combined with criminal activities, it’s essentially a heist flick. Think Ocean’s Eleven meets … well, The Fast and the Furious.

Fast Five brings Dwayne Johnson into the picture. And he’s kind of the bad guy?

Johnson is actually the good guy — Diesel, Walker and the rest are the bad guys, but you cheer for them. The Rock plays a government agent assigned to take down our team of robbers by any means necessary. However, when the evil bad guys targeted by our antiheroes turn out to be super evil, Johnson brokers a temporary truce in order to take on the worse threat.

Fast-forward to Fast & Furious 6, and it’s a similar situation. The Rock is chasing down an international ring of bad guys, so he turns to Dom and his crew to help him out. It doesn’t hurt that there’s something very strange about the folks he’s chasing down.

Right. Letty, Michelle Rodriguez’s character and Dom’s old girlfriend, is working with the Furious 6 bad guys. But, uh, isn’t she dead?

She is! Or, we thought she was. Dom sure as hell thought she was, and Fast and the Furious audiences weren’t given any reason to think otherwise. One of the trailers gave away part of the reason as to how she’s back, which I won’t spoil here, but it makes perfect sense in the F&F universe.

OK. That’s a pretty solid recap, Stephen. So do I still really have to see all of these movies before checking out Furious 6 this week?

My advice: get ahold of all five, gather the friends and family around the television, and binge on them, in order.

Director Justin Lin’s Fast & Furious 6 opens Friday. Read our review here.


  • WinterEcho

    Ok does it explain in the movie at all how years and years ago how Han died, yet is around today in the new movies? I know the beginning of 4 he was in it and he was leaving to go to die in Tokyo, like that took place right before the events of 3. But how do they explain him still alive? I died and blew up and burned, even Dom came at the end to pa his respects to him.

  • Watdaf

    Tokyo Drift is set many years after Fast 5 and Fast 6, but that part is glossed over

  • jrp001

    Saw this last night…….. first truly great popcorn flick of the summer!

  • Stephen Gerding

    Yeah – I didn’t want to get too into spoiler territory up above, because half the fun is figuring that out on your own. I loved that Lin acknowledged Han’s future death in the final scenes of Fast 5 – gave the movie a legitimate bittersweet feeling.

  • Watdaf

    Yes the line about “We will get there eventually”

  • Stephen Gerding


  • Anil Bhatti

    i wont see 6

  • Fury

    the correct viewing order is 1, 2, 4, 5, 6, 3. and watch out for the little Asian kid looking out the bus window as Dom and Letty slide by in London who looks a hell of a lot like a little Asian kid looking out a bus window as Shaun, Han and Takahashi slide by in Tokyo Drift…

  • Sid

    I disagree, the correct order is 1-6. by watching 6 before 3 you will end up spoiling yourself big time with Han’s death..

  • Fury

    yeah, but you’re going to get spoiled on his death either way…

  • Stephen Gerding

    You are, but there’s a genuine bit of poignant emotion that rises while watching 5 and 6 when you know about Han’s inevitable demise. I was hoping against hope that they were planning on ret-conning his death when the pre-credits bit began to roll…

  • Buddha

    Its simple really. Tokyo Drift didn’t make sense when it was released for a reason, it is actually chronologically last. At the end of 6 (Hoped you watched it) Han dies the exact same way in the exact same car as in Tokyo Drift (Minus the special guest appearance by who I am guessing is the next movie’s bad guy). My theory: We may be seeing Shaun (Tokyo Drift’s Protagonist and current DK) in the seventh installment of the franchise.

  • yip

    abt that kid
    i also noticed that , i think thats the same kid
    but if it is , somethings not right, bcause fast3 comes after fast6
    the kid is older in F6 than F3

  • fastfuriousfan

    This little kid also looks out of a bus in fast five during the last huge scene when they pull that safe in the streets of brazil

  • fastfuriousfan

    This little kid also looks out of a bus in fast five during the last huge scene when they pull that safe in the streets of brazil!

  • fastfuriousfan

    i don’t see the kid in tokyo drift, are you talking about the scene right before han died? please precise exactly where thanks!
    Also, i noticed (if what you say is right, that the kid is in tokyo drift) and that all the Fast and furious movies that were produced by justin lin would have him! except i can’t find him in fast and furious 4 (2009). Maybe you can lol

  • janet

    Does the kid belong to Justin?

  • janet

    In 4 the kid is on the bus as well.