The Fast And The Furious Cast Would've Looked A Lot Different Without David Ayer

Looking back over the "Fast & Furious" movies, it's astonishing how far they have evolved. In 2021's "F9," two characters literally launched a car into space. This was followed by a scene where the central team of stunt drivers equipped their cars with powerful electromagnets that could pull entire washing machines out of storefronts in order to fling them at enemy pursuers. Dom Toretto (Vin Diesel) and his crew are more or less unkillable at this point, a detail that the characters were wise enough to acknowledge; Chris "Ludacris" Bridges points out that they may all actually be immortal. 

Looking back to Rob Cohen's 2001 original film, "The Fast and the Furious," one finds a very, very modest beginning. "The Fast and the Furious" is essentially a mid-budget "Point Break" knockoff about ultra-cool fast-driving thieves who do nothing more sinister than boost DVD players from delivery trucks. Like in "Point Break," the ultra-cool world will be infiltrated by a federal agent, in this case Paul Walker, who forms a kinship with the leader of the gang (Diesel). Who could have predicted that stealing DVD players would eventually lead them to the very cosmos? And who could have predicted that a midsummer release with a $38 million budget would lead to a supra-blockbuster that cost $340 million to make 22 years later? 

The original "Fast" is credited to a trio of screenwriters: Gary Scott Thompson, Erik Bergquist, and David Ayer. At the time, Ayer's film career was just starting in earnest, having just written "U-571" and "Training Day." 

According to a recent post on Ayer's Twitter account, audiences have him to thank for the Los Angeles setting of "Fast," as well as its racially diverse cast. An earlier draft, Ayer said, featured an all-white cast and was set in Brooklyn.

The real Los Angeles

David Ayer would, of course, go on to direct a series of steely crime flicks like "Harsh Times" and "Street Kings" as well as the excellent cop drama "End of Watch." Ayer would also be tapped to helm several notable high-profile studio films including the Netflix fantasy "Bright" and the supervillain film "Suicide Squad." Infamously, the latter was completely retooled and re-edited by various teams along the way, making Ayer's intended film into a mushy mess of a movie. Ayer is on record with how disappointed he was with the finished film, and the director's fans have petitioned unsuccessfully to have his cut of the movie restored. It's unlikely that will ever happen

But Ayer did get his way once with his alterations to "The Fast and the Furious." As with all studio films, the script underwent many notable changes during its production, with various screenwriters being brought in to deliver massively altered drafts. When chatting with a fan on Twitter, Ayer posted: 

"Yeah it was set in Brooklyn and all white cast. My condition on taking the writing job was to set it in LA and have it reflect the LA street racing scenes diversity. It was a TINY subculture then. I made it night and day from the script I rewrote."

One of the more notable things about the "Fast & Furious" movies is their diversity in a not-very-diverse blockbuster marketplace. We have Ayer, who moved to South Central Los Angeles as a teen, to thank for that. According to other sources, the film's title had to be licensed from a 1954 Roger Corman film, as it was originally going to be called "Racer X," "Street Wars," or "Redline." 

Incidentally, "Redline" is the title of a perfectly cromulent car-based B-movie from 2007.