The Fast and the Furious (2001) Director: Rob Cohen (15)

With Furious 7 due to hit cinema screens this week, it's a good time to revisit the first of the franchise. Dated only by its technology - A MAN USES A FLOPPY DISC - the camaraderie is there from the start; Paul Walker, Vin Diesel, Michelle Rodriguez and Jordana Brewster are tight and make what could otherwise be a loud, screechy and silly movie very enjoyable. Even for someone who hates cars! That's why F&F is so successful - it's dumb, it's OTT, it makes absolutely no sense...but there's real on-screen chemistry between the main leads and it's pure escapism. Forget everything, and sit back and enjoy the stunts.
The plot goes something like this: cop Brian O'Conner (the late Walker) pretends he's not a cop to infilitrate the local LA street racing scene, as he's trying to catch a gang behind a series of truck thefts. The bestttttttt racer is Dominic Toretto (Diesel), who entrusts Brian after he picks him up in a chase sequence where he's being followed by the police after a street race. Maximum bromance develops. Brian gets off with Dominic's sister Mia (Brewster). One racer is suspicious of Brian 'you're a cop, you're a cop'; Brian 'I'm not a cop'; Dominic 'Okay'. The action hots up with a drive-by, a falling out and some more truck Vs really fast cars stunts.
F&F films will never win Oscars, but when a franchise is this massive there has to be heart there. The first movie launches it all and sets the scene, with likeable characters and high speed high jinks. It's even more poignant to watch with Walker now he's no longer with us; his star was shining bright, and some of the lines and crashes are tragic with hindsight. It's a fitting tribute to Walker that Furious 7 will be off the scale, and the fans will increase worldwide for this furiously fun franchise.