So, I saw the new Fast & Furious movie a few nights ago. And I enjoyed the crap out of it. But more on that in a little bit.
So the first F & F movie came out about 7 or 8 years ago. It followed the same formula as Point Break (another awesome movie of Keanu-like 'Woah' porportions). There is an extreme crime. Usually involving stealing. They're doing crime here! Hot, young untested cop goes undercover with a group of hot, young outlaws of a new extreme sport. Take your pick--surfing or street racing. Cop is there to learn from these good people and find out who the bad guys. He picks out potential bad guys. He falls for the girl--usually involved with the leader of the pack. FBI/cops/whatever goes after potential bad guys and finds out they're bad guys, but just not the right bad guys. Cop has an epiphany that the dudes he's been hanging with-become friends and learning how to do extreme sports stuff--are the real bad guys. The bad guys find out and usually perform an uncharacteristic, sloppily-executed "one last heist." Cop lets bad guy go because bad guy isn't really that bad, but is his friend. The end.
It's true--go watch the first F & F, then Point Break.
The had a second movie. That was pretty good, didn't follow any particular formula, except now Paul Walker is an outlaw ex-cop on the run for letting Vin Diesel go in the first movie. They couldn't get Vin Diesel to appear, I think he was making The Pacifier or some piece of Disney shit. The third movie takes place in Tokyo with drifting (which is huge in Japan, but nobody over in these shores are really that into it, unless you're Hulk Hogan's son). Vin Diesel shows up for the last 3 seconds--he probably needed a lining for his pool. No other original cast.
Now, onto the 4th F &F. It's just a good, Summer blockbuster flick. Nothing you have to actually think about. I love the cars in this movie, they included some real American muscle cars. The car scenes are intense and fast-paced. Some real Keiser Soze moments. The characters have moved beyond common street racing, the car scenes get bigger with every movie. The scene at the end when they're going through the secret tunnel at the US/Mexico border is super intense. I liked how they harkened back to their friendship in the first movie with similar lines, but Paul Walker's character never said he became a fugitive and DEA scapegoat for a while. Probably not something you bring up over Chinese food.
They brought back most of the original cast, except now Michelle Rodriguez is out of jail for drunk driving and wanted to flex her Lost muscles. So she's got top billing, even though she's only in the movie for the first 15-20 minutes, then killed in a flashback (sorry--spoiler). How did Paul Walker's character go from being a disgraced cop who let his mark go to fugitive street racer, to free man, to a FBI agent? Do they let anybody in the FBI? He said they recruited him, so okay. It seems they also wanted to show how strong Vin Diesel is. He's lifting engine blocks and dangling guys out of windows, and he gets shot but only gets annoyed. Vince from the original movie probably spent some time in a hospital ward and then got 20+ years in prison for his crimes.
And, of course, they set it up for a 5th movie.