Why the Women of ‘Fast and Furious’ Are The Franchise’s Lasting Legacy
They are the unsung heroines of this global enterprise
As we prepare to greet another slot in the never-ending saga of the Fast Family that began more than 15 years ago — it’s hard to believe that a generic film about street racing in Los Angeles — and the misfits that convinced us to go along for the ride — still manages to captivate fans all over the world.
But, that’s the thing. It wasn’t just a vamped up version of Point Break or a pointless journey into the lives of bored hoodlums that can’t get enough of the vibrant machines that initiate the endless supply of gas.
The Fast and the Furious was conceived as the movie of a generation.
It gave permission for dreamers to buckle up and champion the characters that conveyed the spirited version of what the American Dream can mean — when you indulge in your pursuits and give it all up for family.
The cast of the original gem were too beautiful for words, which is absolutely necessary when selling a film to audiences who don’t expect anything less.
The early reviews were preoccupied with the impossible charisma of the two leading men — Vin Diesel (Dom) and Paul Walker (Brian) with scant mentions of the equally appealing Michelle Rodriguez (Letty) and Jordana Brewster (Mia).
As the years goes by, it is hard to believe that the women of the franchise barely get the street cred they deserve when you factor in the level of contribution each of them have amassed — a feat that still remains unmatched.
Regardless of what you think about the Fast franchise, there is no way you can deny that its global impact has a lot to do with its perfectly packaged aesthetic.
The producers figured out the winning formula by reinventing the action genre — and steering it away from the faltering blueprint that dominated the eighties and nineties.
The supremely capable White man with the annoying sidekick who single-handedly demolishes an army of bad guys and emerges predictably victorious.
Dom Toretto always had a sidekick and her name was Letty Ortiz.
Michelle Rodriguez, fresh off her spectacular turn in Girlfight — brought the exact same intensity and aptitude to Letty in the first film — and if you’ve paid attention — you will notice the momentum hasn’t wavered.
The one thing the franchise has birthed and steadily nurtures — is the ability to give women the endorsement to kick ass while maintaining their sensuality.
They are allowed to hop into cars and blaze the avenues with their prowess. They are even bequeathed the space to fight to the death — if that’s what it takes to keep the Family safe.
The fiery scene in Fast and Furious 6 that pitted Letty against Riley (played my MMA star Gina Curano) was beyond epic.
Under the precise direction of Justin Lin — the memorable clip was impeccably choreographed — and delivered with pride and recognition for the fact that actresses must be given the opportunities that their male counterparts take for granted.
Another standout in the franchise has to be Gisele played by Gal Gadot who is poised to take the world by storm as Wonder Woman this summer. Gadot’s background as a former soldier of the Israeli army obviously played a role in equipping her with the mindset of a warrior who could hold her own on the battlefield — even if her foes were perfectly manufactured.
The franchise has to be lauded for its adherence to showcasing female characters who aren’t afraid to get down and dirty when the stakes are high enough to demand it.
In Furious 7, UFC champion Ronda Rousey got to rumble with Rodriguez — and again, it was satisfactory to see that all bets were off as gowns and heels collided down the steps and into the ring of punches and headlocks.
Eva Mendes in the hilariously awful 2 Fast 2 Furious managed to stay out of the way of her good looks by taking her undercover duties seriously enough to position the bad guy for his imminent downfall.
Elsa Pataky’s Elena, holds her own with muscle man and drill sergeant — Hobbs, played by Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson — as she assists in keeping the streets free from speed demons.
Recent entry — Game of Thrones actress Nathalie Emmanuel beefs up the mental capacity of her character, Ramsey, an expert hacker who guides the team through the minefield of technology.
Even Brian O’Connor’s one and only — has proven from the start that she is no damsel in distress. Mia Toretto showed off her driving skills the night she charmed her future husband.
And throughout her tenure as the sister of Dom and paramour of Brian — Jordana Brewster has brought a strength and dignity to Mia that continuously held the gang together through thick and thin.
Mia is still the glue that will always keep the franchise intact — even when forces threaten to dismantle the crew.
The Fate of the Furious is ready to be served, and as always the Fast Family will be tested to the limit. The new villain is a scary mercenary who has set her sights on the one person that shouldn’t be fucked with — Dom Toretto.
Charlize Theron plays Cipher, a mysterious woman who changes the game and gives our heroes another opportunity to valiantly “Ride or Die.”
It feels good to have a woman in the driver’s seat — and of course this is in line with how the franchise continuously demonstrates how valuable female characters can be — if you mold them Fast and Furiously.
The ride so far has been entertainingly tumultuous both behind the scenes and on screen — but the legacy of the franchise will always be the way the women conquered — while living life in the fast lane with miles ahead — and the speed limit adjusted for their victory.