Storyclock Research Log

The Fast and the Furious

By Guest Author

The Fast and the Furious

With Fast X coming out May 18th, let's go back to the very beginning. Time to turn up your NOS, and hold tight on the steering wheel! We will be breaking the first film of The Fast and The Furious franchise down to its chassis. We watched Rob Cohen’s THE FAST AND THE FURIOUS, and as always, used the Storyclock Notebook to envision it’s narrative in the form of a clock.

Today's analysis is written by Levi Conrad.

Fast and the Furious Storyclock Research Log

Let's Break It Down

  • Opening: Ultra-cool opening title and pounding techno open the movie, as we start at the Los Angeles docks. A team of masked hijackers has been tipped off about a valuable shipment, and we see them pull off the job in matching performance cars.
  • Normalcy: We meet beautiful stranger Brian walking into Toretto’s Café. He’s been coming in everyday, flirting with Mia Toretto who runs the counter.
  • Normalcy Disrupted: The Toretto Crew enters, and Vince starts a fight with Brian. Dominic, Mia’s brother, stops the fight.
  • Herald: Brian shows up to a street race, asking Hector to race Dom. Brian has no money to wager, but puts up the pink slip to his car.
  • Acceptance and Departure: The cops show up to bust the race! Dom is about to be arrested, but is saved by Brian. Johnny Tran blows up what’s left of Brian’s car. Dom invites Brian into the crew.
  • B Plot Introduced: Surprise, Brian is an undercover cop! Brian’s been hanging around the Toretto’s because Dom is a top suspect in the earlier hijacking. Brian’s boss warns him about Dom.
  • Trailer Moments: Brian and Jesse start building the ten second car Brian owes Dom. Vince and Brian’s rivalry heats up over dinner. Mia agrees to go out with Brian.
  • Tiny Breakthrough: After almost being exposed by Dom and Vince, Brian convinces them to snoop on Tran with him. Brian finds merch at Tran’s garage and suspects him of being a hijacker.
  • Midpoint: The Sgt. accuses Brian of getting too close to Mia. The police are pushing Brian to give them results. Dominic opens up and shows Brian the car that killed his father. Brian goes out with Mia.
  • Shadow Gains The Upper Hand: The police raid Tran’s house, but Tran is innocent. Brian begs for Dom to tell him the truth.
  • Hero’s Final Push: Brian goes to the desert to race for Dom’s respect.
  • Worst Fears Realized: Jesse loses to Tran, and runs away. Tran accuses Dom of snitching, and promises revenge. Dom shows his violent side.
  • Game Over: Brian sees that Dom and the Toretto Crew are the hijackers.The Crew leaves the desert to pull a job.
  • Big Breakthrough: Brian admits he’s a cop to Mia, and asks for her help in stopping Dom.
  • Hero Gains Upper Hand: Brian and Mia save Vince from dying in a hijacking gone wrong. Dom and the crew discover the truth about Brian.
  • Shadows Final Push: Brian goes to Dom to find and save Jesse. Jesse shows up, and is killed by Tran.
  • Ultimate Breakthrough: Dom and Brian use their cars to avenge Jesse.
  • New Normalcy: Brian and Dom race against each other. Dom crashes, and Brian gives him the ten second car to run away from the cops in. Brian stays behind to be with Mia, no matter what.
  • Final Image: Dom escapes to Mexico.

Stuff that Stood Out To Me
Before it was a series full of giant action set pieces, this was a movie about cars and family. From the truck hijacking in the opening, to Brian and Dom’s race, to the desert race that Jesse loses, to the final street race to get revenge on Tran, speed and skill behind the wheel are how these characters solve their problems.

Even when not racing, cars are used as tokens of where the characters are in the story. Brian has no money, but can put his pink slip on the line to race Dom. When that car is destroyed by Tran, it represents the desperate place Brian is caught in, and Dom inviting him into the crew to build a new car shows Brian landing on his feet. When Brian gives Dom the 10 second car in the finale, it shows that he is now on the stable ground Dom was on, and cements his intention to support Mia and her family, even if they break the law.

Speaking of Mia, the love triangle between her, Brian, and Vince is one of the other main connecting threads that jumped out of the Storyclock. Brian and Mia’s romance builds steadily from a cover to get close to Dom, to their flirting at dinner, to their date, and then to him sharing his true identity to save the crew. There’s also a lot of time spent developing Vince’s romantic rivalry with Brian, from their initial fight in the opening, to Brian saving Vince’s life during the heist gone wrong.

This focus on cars as plot devices to reveal personal depth is true for other characters too. Dom can’t relate his family’s tragedy to Brian without using his fathers car to illustrate it, and accidentally shows Brian that he’s the leader of the hijackers by the car he leaves the desert in. In a similar way Tran’s involvement in a biker gang illustrates his separation from the Toretto Crew, as well as his isolation from his wealthy and proper family.

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