The Fast and The Furious 20th anniversary

To quote the great street racer Dominic Toretto: “It don’t matter if you win by an inch or a mile: winning’s winning.” And “winning” is exactly what the Fast and Furious franchise has done for two decades. Today marks the twentieth anniversary of 2001’s The Fast and the Furious, the film that launched one of the most unlikely and arguably the most important global franchises in cinematic history, and Universal is celebrating one of its crown jewels with a pair of brand new featurettes. Plus, the original film is heading back to more than 300 theaters for tonight only.

The Fast and the Furious 20th Anniversary Featurette

The coronavirus delayed F9 for more than a year, but the updated release date means the new film arrives in theaters just a few days after the original’s 20th anniversary. You’ll be hard-pressed to fit a full rewatch of the franchise in before the new sequel drops on Friday, but if you’re looking to go back to the very beginning, Cinemark Theatres will screen The Fast and the Furious in more than 300 theatres across the country for one night only (tonight, the actual anniversary date).

Director Rob Cohen allegedly did some horrific things off screen that may taint this film by association for some viewers, and the character of Vince uses some language that no mainstream movie character would use now. If you’re able to look beyond those things, I think the original film still holds up remarkably well. Diesel gives a genuine movie star performance, Walker is fun to watch as a Keanu Reeves-esque surfer bro who’s in over his head, and the action – while tame compared to what would eventually happen – still feels exciting and tactile in a way that many modern blockbusters don’t.

Looking Back at the Fast Saga

Here’s a fun video that’s like stepping into a time machine. Hearing that this series has been around for twenty years is one thing, but actually seeing the cast evolve and age over the course of this featurette truly hammers home the durability and adaptability of this franchise. As the films have increased their scope and outrageous stunts, it’s become a common refrain to see people point out that the original film started with a group of people stealing combination VCR/DVD players. But it’s a point that bears repeating, because since then, things have escalated into characters pulling off $100 million heists, outrunning a nuclear submarine, fighting off global mercenaries, and much more, with an amnesia subplot, a few pregnancies, and at least two people seemingly brought back from the dead. (Letty “died” in Fast & Furious, but her return was quickly teased in an amazing post-credits sequence in Fast Five, and Han is mysteriously back in F9 after being killed by Deckard Shaw in Tokyo Drift.)

F9 arrives in theaters on June 25, 2021.

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