Well, I got to hand it to Vin Diesel and crew….they are taking full advantage of the “sequel” market.   Who would have known that there was such a huge interest in “souped- up” street cars?   It’s been barely two years since the fourth Fast and the Furious hit the screens with fair success.   It even had a catchy title – Fast and the Furious. The new fifth sequel, Fast Five, will be hitting theaters this April 29th; and there isn’t a doubt in mind that audiences will be lining up to see bad ole’ Vinnie flex his muscles and Paul Walker do his best “Keanu Reeves”  impressions.

Now maybe I am talking a little smack.  I mean, if it sells, it sells- right?  There is nothing wrong with taking advantage of the market and creating some profit and if it’s not broken – why fix it? My guess is Vin Diesel feels the same way and until people lose interest, he is going to do his best to muscle these sequels out.  Even if it means doing another XXX – whoops, apparently he is in production for one of those too.  Yippee…and since there is such a buzz in profits for this franchise, let’s take a look back at the previous four movies:

1. The Fast and the Furious (2001)
Vin Diesel was at the top of his game, and the plot concept was fairly original.  The movie was a box office hit.  I should admit – I fell victim to this first one in the franchise. I even high fived one of the cast members at a club one night for crying out loud!  Okay, I had just seen the movie and was also a little tipsy, but it wasn’t because I was some diehard “Diesel” fan, or moved by the incredible storyline.  When I go see a movie, I want to be entertained. I’m also a sucker for muscle cars, and this one was a total guy movie – fast cars, hot chicks, and hot chicks in fast cars.  What could be better?  Oh, and the tear-jerking scene between Vinnie and Paul Walker, when Paul lets him go.  Priceless – the movie screamed man crush.

1. 2 Fast 2 Furious (2003)
Following fast on the tracks from the first installment but this time with director John Singleton (Boyz in the Hood, Higher Learning);  2 Furious quickly turned a profit while dropping Vinnie, keeping Paul and adding some new talent to the mix – including Ludacris and Eva Mendes.  The film did even better at the box office than the first one showing that the franchise had a lot of momentum, and that Paul Walker could carry a movie on his own.

3. The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift (2006)
Honestly, I hated it. There aren’t a lot of interests in spawning a sequel without any of the original cast members, except purely for profit reasons.  I normally hate it when producers do this, but who cares what I think.  Usually audiences can smell this a mile away too and although it didn’t do as well as its predecessors, surprisingly the movie fared well in terms of profit – ranking in twice its budget worldwide.  Since money tends to be king in this business, this would be a success as far as the investors are concerned.  My thoughts were that this one was going to be a buzz kill and the franchise was dead after this, even with Vinnie and his bald head doing a cameo.   Apparently this also gave director Justin Lin his next two ideas for the franchise.

4. Fast & Furious (2009)
Director Justin Lin brings back the original fast cast and turns this film into the most profitable of the franchise to date.   Was it good?  If you look at the numbers, one would say it must have been good. However, at this point in the franchise and with these types of movies it’s all about marketability.   Sure it was fun for the audience to see the original gang back together, and this must have sparked curiosity about the plot – but let’s face it, anyone going to see these movies aren’t looking for Oscar winning performances.  It’s all about Vinnie and Paul fans watching them drive fast cars and handle hot ladies.   Speaking of hot ladies, the introduction of the very sexy Israeli model/actress Gal Gadot was probably the highlight of this film.   The other highlight was the killing off of Michelle Rodriguez’s character.

This leaves the fifth installment, Fast Five, which is set to come out in theaters everywhere, April 29 and my review will be out on it beforehand.   Justin Lin is directing again and it stars everyone minus Michelle Rodriguez, but is including Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson.  We’ll watch him and Vinnie duke it out while Paul Walker does his best of “Keanu Reeves” impressions – again.  Ludacris is back as well (why him?), along with Gal Gadot (blush) and the uber yummy Elsa Pataky.  The producers are going all out on this one guys, so get your gears in gear.  I am fairly certain it will do well, if not better, than its predecessors.  

This one is about the “Fast gang” plotting to steal a big sum of money.  Sounds like a blast!  And maybe it will be a blast, I mean, if all the other four films got away successfully with cheesy dialogue and unbelievable action sequences – this one probably couldn’t do any worse.  Yet, in the end, there’s a market out there for these types of things, and I’m quite positive Fast Five will be hitting it on all gears.   Therefore be sure to catch my review before you hop in your “souped –up” Mitsubishi or Honda and race down to the theaters this Friday.  Then again, if you’re driving one of those – you probably could care less what I have to say.  See you at the movies.