It is written in the chronicles of our people that, long ago, in the days when the earth below and the sky above were as one, and the gods had not yet deserted the world of men, there was a film called The Fast and the Furious.

And it is written that The Fast and the Furious begat 2 Fast 2 Furious, which begat The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift, which begat Fast & Furious, which begat Fast Five, which begat Fast & Furious 6, although certain elders of the tribe insist that the latter film was actually titled Furious 6. Adding to the confusion, Fast Five was titled Fast & Furious: Rio Heist in some countries. Also, most scholars agree that the more accurate title for the sixth film would have been Tank Fast Redemption Furious: London Calling (Letty’s Lament.)

But now, now, now—now we have Furious 7, a.k.a. Fast & Furious 7, a.k.a. Abu Fast Dhabi Furious, a.k.a. Transporter Origins: Furious Fastly, a.k.a. whatever you want to call the newest entry in the neverending saga about human beings who transform into cars when the moon is full. Furious 7 was always intended to point the Fast franchise in a new direction. When I talked to franchise star-producer Vin Diesel back in 2013, he explicitly described the seventh film as the first entry in a new Fast trilogy. Universal appeared to be planning an aggressive release strategy for the series, originally setting Furious 7‘s release date for summer 2014. That was before tragedy struck, with the late 2013 death of series star Paul Walker.

The first trailer for Furious 7 doesn’t tiptoe around Walker’s passing, with all the talk about “one last ride.” It also promises a potentially radical expansion of the Fast franchise. There are at least two scenes where gigantic bald people fight each other, which is just not something you can say about Interstellar. (Unless Interstellar is secretly about Jessica Chastain and Anne Hathaway going all Ripley-in-Alien-3 and shaving their heads before pummeling each other in a half-hour zero-gravity brawl. Which is something that would definitely happen if Chris Morgan wrote Interstellar.) There are cars, and they drive fast, in a manner that one might almost describe as furious.

You can watch the trailer here; now, let’s dive in, shall we?

We begin with Dominic Toretto, lord of the Round Table. At the end of Furious 6, Dom had everything. Money? He had riches beyond all imagining, stolen from the most evil man in Brazil back in Fast Five. Freedom? Having spent most of the 2000s on the run from the law, Dom received an official pardon from the government after he defeated nefarious automotive supervillain Owen Shaw. Love? Dom’s murdered girlfriend Letty was magically resurrected by a group of evil ninja wizards, or something. Family? Oh, Dom’s got family.

There’s Letty, played by human middle finger Michelle Rodriguez. She smiles, clearly thinking about something that makes her happy, like fighting an entire army of Krav Maga instructors with one hand tied behind her back and another hand duct-taped to a bottle of 40-ounce steel reserve.

And there’s Roman Pearce, played by Tyrese Gibson, who has spent the last seven years in movies where cars do things that cars do not typically do.

And who can forget Tej, first introduced back in 2 Fast 2 Furious as, like, the Lando Calrissian of Miami, basically. Then in Fast Five Tej revealed that he is good with computers. Basically, Tej is the Donatello of Fast & Furious. And Roman is the Michelangelo. And Letty is Raphael, Brian is Leonardo, and Dom is Splinter, weirdly. (It’s also possible that Dom is Leonardo and Brian is Casey Jones, which makes sense, since Mia is April O’Neil.)

And here’s Brian O’Conner, played by Paul Walker, and we’re not going to cry, fellow Fast fans; we’re not. Brian and the gang appear to be planning one of their signature automotive heists…

…a fact confirmed by this wide shot, showing every member of the gang inside of a different cool-looking car…

…although, that’s weird, I don’t recall any of the Toretto gang’s previous heists involving a slowly opening ramp, maybe they’re in some sort of large truck or perhaps even a transport train…


Now, I don’t like to brag. So I’m just going to state, for the record, that last September I predicted that 7 Fast 7 Furious would feature a scene where Dominic Toretto leads a squad of flying parachute cars into an elaborate action scene. (Admittedly, the movie’s action scene doesn’t seem to involve the Tokyo Skytree or a cyborg-zombie version of Johnny Tran. But I was half-right.)

The gang is attacking some sort of bus, which is predictably outfitted with an array of megamachine megaguns. We go now live to Chris “Ludacris” Bridges for a reaction shot.

And this, my friends, is why you pay Ludacris the big bucks.

SMASH CUT: A red button. A hand, about to press it. But what will happen when the button gets pressed?

Apparently, that red button activates the Fast & Furious franchise’s Action Star Generator. Say hello to franchise newbie Tony Jaa, the martial arts legend from Ong-Bak.

Jaa looks on in horror as the Toretto gang fires their signature hooks into the back of the vehicle.

Explosive pulling ensues. Note that the Jaa henchmen on the left side of the screen appears to be cosplaying Snake Eyes from GI Joe.

The back of the bus falls to the ground, never to be seen again.

And this is when Brian O’Conner executes one of his trademark “jumping off one car onto another car” moves.

Intriguingly, the purpose of this auto-heist is not to get a huge sum of money. No, the Toretto gang appears to be rescuing someone: franchise newcomer Nathalie Emmanuel, who you probably know as Missandei from Game of Thrones. The presence of both Emmanuel and Tony Jaa in this scene serves as further proof that Fast & Furious is becoming the nexus of all action movie realities.

I’m not saying that Fast & Furious takes place in the same universe as Game of Thrones, of course. That would be silly! But it seems obvious that Fast & Furious does take place in the same multiverse as Game of Thrones, and season seven of Thrones will probably end with a cliffhanger where Jon Snow and Dany Targaryen and, I dunno, Davos Seaworth are about to get attacked by the White Walkers, and then suddenly there’s a crack of thunder and a Dodge Charger outfitted with a row of chainguns suddenly appears out of the sky and mows down the whole ice-zombie army, and then Dominic Toretto gets out of the car and Dany is all like “What sort of man are you?” and Dom says “The kind of man who knows that a man is nothing without his family,” and then they all drive off to star in 2018’s reality-mashing epic Furious: The Fast-finity War, Part 1.

Not crying. We’re not.

Brian tosses Missandei onto a waiting car. Not shown: A presumably elaborate fight scene where Tony Jaa and Paul Walker engage in a martial arts duel inside of the bus. (You can see a brief snippet of that fight scene here.)

Shown: The bus going all Joseph-Gordon-Levitt-in-Inception, turning on its side…

And then dangling off the cliff, leaving Brian hanging on for dear life. It’s like the start of Uncharted 2, if Uncharted starred a guy whose uniform was a purplish hoodie and blue jeans and that same white shirt, not crying not crying.

This action scene sponsored by Stairmaster 5000™. The Stairmaster 5000™: Because you never know when you’re going to find yourself running along the side of an overturned gun-bus that is about to fall off a cliff.

The end of the action scene feels like an homage to the fourth through sixth Fast movies: A big overturned vehicle like the start of Fast & Furious, a tremendous leap on a cliff’s edge like the train scene from Fast Five, the ongoing assertion that you can break your fall as long as you land on a car (see: Letty in Furious 6, asking Dom “How did you know there’d be a car there to break our fall?”)

NEXT: Meet the new bad guy, same as the old bad guy

We get a brief flashback to dear departed Han, a character originally introduced and killed in Tokyo Drift, before appearing as a member of the Toretto gang in Fasts 4 and 5 before being killed off again in the post-credits scene of Furious 6. (Technically, the character originated in Better Luck Tomorrow, the debut feature by director Justin Lin, aka the guy who transformed the Fast movies into a cultural phenomenon.)

Han is dead, and the Toretto gang is not happy about it. They stare pensively into the cityscape of downtown Los Angeles. Dom says, “It looks like the sins of London have followed us home,” which I think is a quote from Hamlet.

Note presence of Missandei, whose prominent placement here implies that part of the story of Furious 7 will be watching the Toretto family rebuild itself after the one-two loss of Han and his girlfriend, Wonder Woman.

Han’s murder was an act of vengeance. Remember in Furious 6, when the Toretto gang fought Dracula? Turns out Dracula has an older, bigger, badder, balder brother.

The brother in question is played by Jason Statham, aka The Transporter, aka the dude from Crank. Statham’s presence in Furious 7 is a key addition, since it connects the series directly to The Expendables saga, which means that Fast & Furious is like maybe two degrees away from every action franchise of the last thirty years. (Furious 7 also marks the franchise debut of Ronda Rousey, who was in Expendables 3, which strongly implies that the dimensions of Fast & Furious and The Expendables are relatively close together, as far as action-movie realities go.)

Statham’s character has been generally referred to as Ian Shaw in pre-release notes, but the dossier above appears to refer to him as “Deckard Shaw.” “Deckard,” of course, is the surname of Harrison Ford’s character in Blade Runner. Now, I’m not saying that Jason Statham is playing a character who is secretly an android, but I’m not not saying that.

“One last ride,” Dom tells Brian, and Brian looks at him, not crying not crying notcrying.

Furious 7 appears to be, at least in part, a back-to-basics sequel, returning the gang to Los Angeles after two movies gallivanting around the globe. But don’t think Furious 7 is anti-gallivant: The action suddenly shifts to Abu Dhabi. Will Abu Dhabi suffer the same fate as Rio De Janeiro in Fast Five and London in Furious 6, and basically get completely destroyed? Wasn’t Abu Dhabi already destroyed in Sex and the City 2?

Please please please let there be just one action scene where Vin Diesel chases after Jason Statham, and they’re both riding camels, and at one point Vin Diesel jumps from one camel to another camel.

Abu Dhabi: Where the women are made of gold!

Abu Dhabi, where you can only descend a staircase if you’re flanked by your badass friends!

It’s interesting to see the Toretto gang all James Bond’d up: The franchise usually roots them in the land of greased-up car freaks…

…something we’re reminded about immediately with a quick cut to a drag race. This is a vintage Fast race: People cheering, buxom high-heeled gal wearing a skirt that barely counts as clothing. Part of the fun of the last few Fast sequels is the underlying theory that everything in the world—evil politicians, drugrunning cartels, the whole international military-industrial complex—somehow ties into drag racing.

A cool-looking action scene lit up by red flares. Something about this particular hue reminds me of Insidious: Chapter 2, where the perpetually-haunted Lambert family moved to a house with the world’s freakiest stained-glass window that cast an eerie red light onto the stairwell.

Which is a good moment to discuss the fact that Furious 7 is the first Fast & Furious film in a decade to not be directed by Justin Lin. Director James Wan was an intriguingly offbeat choice to take over the car-crash franchise, given his recent critical and commercial success with old-school horror films like The Conjuring and the Insidious series. I’m intrigued to see what kind of stamp Wan puts on the franchise; if nothing else, this trailer proves that he’s got a handle on the franchise’s weird mixture of twisted-geometry car chases and retro-beefcake fight scenes.

NEXT PAGE: The Collateral Theory of Fast & Furious

The trailer ends with a rapid-fire series of images and exposition-dump monologues, which we should take a second to unpack separately.

First up, “Daddy’s gotta go to work,” says Luke Hobbs, the mini-boss antagonist from Fast Five who went all “enemy of my enemy is my friend” and became a Toretto ally in Furious 6. It would appear that Hobbs suffers a nasty injury at some point in Furious 7. I’m guessing Hobbs gets attacked by Deckard Shaw, and has to spend most of the movie on the sidelines, then stages a triumphant return at the eleventh hour. Basically, if The Fast and the Furious is The Mighty Ducks, then Hobbs is Dean Portman in D3, and he’ll appear just in time to help Dom and Brian defeat the Varsity Hockey Team. (In this metaphor, Dom = Coach Bombay, Brian = Charlie, and Roman = Goldberg.)

The Scorpion King and The Transporter will fight in this movie, which is just not something you can say about Boyhood.

And The Rock goes all Jesse-Ventura-in-Predator in the middle of a street. I’m not sure what’s firing at him, but I really hope it’s one of those SkyNet gunships from Terminator.

Kurt Russell, though. Another new addition to the franchise appears just long enough to say some very important-sounding exposition. “This is a world that doesn’t play by your rules,” Snake Plissken tells Roddick. “Like it or not, you and your friends are a part of it now.”

Remember in the post-credits scene of Iron Man, when Nick Fury appeared? Do you remember the precise words he used? “You think you’re the only superhero in the world? Mr. Stark, you’ve become part of a bigger universe. You just don’t know it yet.” Could it be that Kurt Russell is playing a roughly equivalent role here? Some sort of government agent working for some sort of global super-agency, welcoming the Toretto gang into a newer, larger world of action heists?

Maybe Jason Statham’s character is just the tip of the iceberg. Maybe the title of the movie has a double meaning, and “Furious 7” is the name of an international gang of supercriminals. (“Mr. Fast and the Furious 7.”) Maybe the post-credits scene of Furious 7 will feature a cameo appearance by Jeremy Renner’s Aaron Cross, which will lead into 2017’s mash-up movie Fast & Furious: Bourne to Run. Maybe the post-credits scene of F&F: BtR will feature a cameo appearance by Chris Pratt as whoever he is in Jurassic World, which will lead into 2020’s Jurassic Fast Dino Furious: The Mummy Returns With A Vengeance.

Hey look, it’s TV’s Jordana Brewster! The OG franchise star hasn’t had much to do in the last couple of Fast movies besides be pregnant, not be pregnant, and say one of the single greatest lines in movie history. (“You guys have every corrupt cop in Rio on your tail!”)

In her brief appearance here, she looks sad. We know that Furious 7 will find some way to retire the Brian O’Conner character without killing him; it’s a good bet that Mia will appear towards the end of the movie for a tearful goodbye to her brother, probably saying that she’s going into hiding with Brian so they can raise their child in a peaceful existence that doesn’t require them to engage in high-speed car chases every couple years. And then the O’Conners will disappear forever, until 2034’s Fast 25: Fury Reborn, featuring Ty Simpkins as Jack O’Conner.

But this movie isn’t just about action! Furious 7 will mark the first time in forever that Dom and Letty are just two people in a relationship, as opposed to being trapped in some kind of death-vengeance-resurrection-amnesia cycle. These two, they’re like an old married couple now. An old married couple that could tear your head off.

The trailer also gives Nathalie Emmanuel her own Gal-Gadot-in-Fast-Five moment. It’s still unclear precisely what role Emmanuel is playing in the Toretto crew. Is her character an old associate of the Shaw brothers? Is she going to join the Toretto crew or betray them, a la Gina Carano in Furious 6?

And could it be that she’s being set up as a love interest for one of these handsome bachelors? I hope not. We can all agree that the Fast & Furious movies are secretly about the unspoken love affair between Roman and Tej.

Apologies in advance, but I’m going to go down a rabbit hole here. We see Dom and Deckard facing off on the rooftop parking lot of a building. I am 90 percent sure that this is the same building in downtown Los Angeles used in the climax of Collateral, a movie that I have a few thoughts about.

Now, theory time. We know that Furious 7 stars Jason Statham as a mysterious figure named Deckard or maybe Ian Shaw.

And look here: It’s Jason Statham at the beginning of Collateral, playing a never-named character listed merely as “Airport Man” in the credits. Statham’s character is somehow tied into the ultra-criminal network that provides the narrative foundation for Collateral. Many have theorized that Statham-in-Collateral is supposed to be Frank Martin from the Transporter movies. Could it be that, in fact, Statham-in-Collateral was Shaw all along?

Or, to get a little crazier, could it be that Frank Martin was a pseudonym for the Shaw brother, who got his start in crime working as a bagman in Collateral before segueing into driver work in the Transporter movies, before ultimately breaking bad as a supercriminal in Furious 7? All I’m saying is: If Javier Bardem ever appears in the Fast & Furious movies as some kind of criminal kingpin, the multiverse will collapse into itself.

UPDATE: Eagle-eyed Twitter-er @Katharine77 has very kindly informed me that the parking garage is actually in Atlanta, which is a city that is not Los Angeles. This would seem to put the Collateral Theory on hold, but only until 2023’s Fast Ghost Furious Protocol, where Tom Cruise will essay the role of a gray-haired assassin named “Vincenzo.”

The guy from Crank is going to fight Groot in this film, which is just not something you can say about The Grand Budapest Hotel.

Here, I GIF’d Statham and Diesel jumping towards each other in slow motion. Now stare at this for 10 hours and let the secrets of the universe be revealed unto you.

“I don’t have friends,” says Dom. “I got family.” Yes, yes, Vin Diesel said “family,” DRINK, but there’s a somber tone to the words here. Not to get too grandiose, but you could argue that the whole through line of the second Fast trilogy was reforming the family: Reuniting Dom and Brian in Fast 4, uniting the whole disparate Fast cast in Fast 5, bringing Letty back and returning home in Furious 6.

Now comes Furious 7, which begins with two members of the family dead, and Hobbs injured, and has to build up to the inevitable moment when a key member of the franchise says farewell. At this point, we’re used to sequels that are “darker” than their predecessors. Furious 7 doesn’t look darker, per se; gold-plated dancing chicks, etc. But there could be a genuine melancholy underpinning all the action—a sense that the “family” Dom has fought so hard for will eventually break apart. You can’t outrace time, even in a flying parachute car.

Oh, hell. [shuts laptop, watches train scene from Fast Five, cries]

Fast and Furious
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