The Fast and the Furious (2001)
In which we meet: LAPD undercover detective Brian O’Connor (Paul Walker), career criminal and L.A. street race king Dominic “Dom” Toretto (Vin Diesel), Dom’s sister Mia (Jordana Brewster), and Letty (Michelle Rodriguez), Dom’s girlfriend.
The Plot: O’Connor is part of an LAPD/FBI task force meant to bring to justice a ring of high-speed hijackers who are robbing transport trucks on the California highway while they’re in motion. Dom is the primary suspect, so O’Connor infiltrates Dom’s tight circle and strikes up a relationship with Mia in the process. But the closer he gets to the Toretto clan, the more O’Connor looks for a way to ignore the obvious, which is that Dom is the hijacker he’s looking for.
He’s a Giant Chicken! Dom’s oldest friend Vince (Matt Schulze) looks like the crazy one by being paranoid about Brian’s deepening involvement in the group and his growing comradery with Dom, and at one point accuses Brian of being a cop. A lot of that’s driven by Vince’s feelings for Mia and Mia’s attraction to Brian. Of course, in the end, Vince was 100 per cent correct.
Signature Stunt: In what’s supposed to be Dom and the gang’s last heist before a vacation, the job goes horribly wrong when, as predicted, the truck drivers are now heavily armed to fight off the thieves, and protect themselves and their loads.
Point of Order: Is Brian O’Connor a great undercover cop, or a terrible undercover cop? In a pivotal scene, Brian is caught snooping around the garage of a rival team of racers by Dom and Vince. Vince believes this is proof that Brian is a cop, and that he was trying to find indictable info on the various drivers, but Brian tells them he was just spying on the competition because he can’t lose again. It’s a good story, and it works, but why then does he drive his undercover vehicle directly to the scene and then not do recon to make sure he wouldn’t get caught?
Burning Pop Culture Question: Whatever happened to Ja Rule? Ja Rule’s cameo came right at the height of his pop culture relevance. He was even supposed to appear in the sequel, but you don’t hear a lot about the musician anymore. He took a hiatus from music in 2005, but when he released his first comeback album in 2009, he just couldn’t capture the magic of past hits. In July 2011, he went to prison for attempted illegal gun possession and tax evasion, but he was released in May 2013. Although he hasn’t achieved past heights of fame, he will always have his two minutes of fame as Edwin in The Fast and the Furious.
In the end: After Brian helps Dom chase down Johnny Tran in retaliation for the murder of Jesse, Dom’s mechanic friend, the two have one more street race. But when Dom’s car is wrecked by a passing train, Brian gives Dom his car and lets him get away as the police sirens blare nearby.