There’s something to be said for a movie franchise that not only dares itself to be more outrageous and over-the-top with each passing film but successfully does so each time.
Against all odds, The Fast and the Furious, the 2001 action-adventure movie about a crew of street racers in Los Angeles, has spawned a slew of sequels and a spinoff without a single sign of stopping anytime soon. Fans are clearly in for whatever Dominic Toretto and his intrepid family decide to do with their talents next — and there’s no shortage of moments in which the franchise has asked its audience to get on board and suspend their disbelief in favor of seeing these characters go another quarter mile more.
When one crafts a story that spans decades and even jumps around in time, there will always be a few plot holes that could bring the audience’s enjoyment to a screeching halt. However, when it comes to the Fast and Furious movies, they seem to thrive off those reality-busting moments, daring the audience to point them out and force themselves to course correct in future films. With that in mind, here’s a look at a handful of plot holes in the Fast and Furious franchise that somehow make fans love it even more.
Tej is way too good
In the oft-forgotten 2 Fast 2 Furious, Brian O’Conner finds himself an outlaw living in Miami and doing what he does best — street racing. The person behind the Miami underworld’s street racing scene is mechanic and organizer Tej Parker.
When fans are first introduced to the character, he’s a humble mechanic who used to street race, like Brian. However, after hitting a wall doing 120 miles per hour, he doesn’t drive anymore. Instead, he just organizes races.
Tej then disappears until Fast 5, when he’s called to Brazil to help O’Conner and Toretto with a heist. That’s where he also demonstrates a renewed ability to drive, an intimate knowledge of high-tech safes, and the ability to acquire almost anything in the world for their odd little safe house in Rio. By The Fate of the Furious, he’s also demonstrated that he’s an expert martial artist and a hacker that’s capable of impressing Ramsey, who multiple governments are seeking for her technology.
To recap, Tej goes from being a humble mechanic to a world-class criminal mastermind, hacker, driver, fighter, and acquisitions expert. At no point is his impressive skill set expansion explained or even mentioned. A brief onscreen attempt was made in Fast 5, but Tej simply said he had a life before Brian met him in 2 Fast 2 Furious. That actually muddies the waters further, implying he had these skills back then and chose not to use them. People can get good at things, but Tej is simply too good.
Family is everything, but the Shaw brothers can hang
In Fast and Furious 6, Owen Shaw is introduced as the man that’s been using a team similar to Dom’s family to conduct all kinds of unseemly business around the globe. Furthermore, he’s recruited Dom’s old childhood flame, Letty, taking advantage of the fact that the attempt on her life in Fast and Furious left her with no memory. By the end of the film, Owen is responsible for the death of Gisele Yashar, a member of Dom’s crew.
After defeating Owen, Deckard Shaw comes out of the woodwork to get revenge. He starts by assassinating Han Seoul-Oh, a longtime member of Dominic’s crew. He doesn’t stop there.
Deckard blows up Dominic’s Los Angeles home, which he shares with his sister, O’Conner, and their son. Fortunately, everyone makes it out alive, something Shaw could not have predicted. Shaw later attacks Dom at Han’s funeral and made several other attempts on his life before being captured and thrown in jail.
However, one film later, Dom is backed into a corner and has no choice but to trust his old enemies with none other than his own baby. Despite straight-up murdering his close friends, stealing his girlfriend and trying to kill his family, Dom trusts the Shaw brothers to not betray him while they do his dirty work.
Once the mission is over, he even welcomes Deckard to a "family" barbecue in New York City. Forgiveness is a very complicated thing, but this is a bit much.
The FBI doesn’t care that Brian is a dirty cop
The first movie opens with Brian O’Conner taking his shot at becoming a detective by going undercover in the street racing world. The film ends with him befriending Dominic Toretto and letting him escape custody. Just like that, he goes on the run and becomes a full-fledged criminal and fugitive.
He’s eventually found by the FBI in Miami, but instead of arresting him, they recruit him to do a job for them and bust a worse criminal. Obviously, he complies, leading to his record being cleared.
The next time the audience sees Brian, he’s a full FBI agent. Now, someone with a clean record can, presumably, go through the steps to become an FBI agent. However, given that the FBI are the ones that cleared him in the first place, it’s improbable to think that they weren’t aware of who he was or his propensity for letting street racer friends escape justice. How then was the Bureau okay with making him an agent, trusted with not only millions of dollars in equipment but highly sensitive information related to the criminal world he once went native in? It’s almost like the feds get what’s coming to them when Fast and Furious ends with Brian, predictably, offering to let Dominic off the hook only to have to orchestrate his daring prison break weeks later.
In the end, Brian ends up on the "wrong side of a wanted poster," but he frankly shouldn’t have ever been trusted on the right side in the first place.
You can’t hack those cars
Fate of the Furious had the burden of having to top the seven movies that came before it. Its attempt to do that can be summed up in a daring scene in which Dominic Toretto has to face off against his own team in a New York City chase.
Dom, however, has the support of the criminal mastermind Cipher, who has her team of expert hackers take over every autonomous car in the city and remotely drive them like they’re a sea of unfriendly metal. Cipher’s exact words are: "I want every chip with a zero-day exploit in a 2-mile radius around that motorcade, now."
For those unfamiliar, a "zero-day exploit" is simply a bit of software that hackers are able to, well, hack. It does not explain how minivans and older model sedans are clearly visible being "hacked" and driven like remote control vehicles. Simply put, the impressive-looking sea of cars that Cipher has her team manifest to aid Dom in stealing a nuclear football simply cannot exist. Not only would the gridlock in New York City be too immense to get the cars past a few miles per hour, but the scene shows her controlling cars that the audience is led to believe have both a cassette player and a high-tech auto driving chip.
Yes, the movies have to top each other, but this glaring plot hole in Fate of the Furious feels like someone didn’t even try, which is upsetting to a group of fans that are willing to put up with a lot.
Elena is pregnant… When?
The big plot twist in Fate of the Furious hinges on Dominic’s old lover, Elena Neves, having secretly given birth to his baby. However, for those keeping track of the timeline of events, that really doesn’t add up.
Elena is introduced and develops a romantic relationship with Dominic in Fast Five. When we see her again in Fast & Furious 6, she agrees to let Dom go so he can be with Letty now that she’s alive. Weird, sure, but it’s her choice.
To help move on with her life, she joins Lucas Hobbs at the Diplomatic Security Services. When we see her again in Furious 7, she’s a full-fledged agent, having clearly gone through whatever presumably lengthy process goes into making a local Rio police officer who ran off with a wanted international fugitive into a DSS agent. What’s more, she doesn’t seem to be showing a baby bump at all when Deckard Shaw explodes her and Hobbs out the window of a very tall building. Fortunately, that death-defying stunt had no impact on her unborn child.
Overall, it just doesn’t really track that she was able to be with Dom, conceive a child and have the events of three movies and a new, improbable, career get off the ground in what has to be a matter of weeks. She certainly wouldn’t have been able to hide it from Hobbs, who would have likely told Dom that he’s got a love child out there.
It’s a pretty big plot hole that will inform a lot of the franchise going forward.
The runway was entirely too long
Anyone who watched Fast & Furious 6 was likely struck by two things during its climax — the first being the thrilling action and the second being the fact that it appeared to take place on a seemingly endless runway.
For those who don’t know, the climactic scene sees the bad guys trying to escape in a plane with one of the good guys as their hostage. Dom’s crew has to catch up in their cars and somehow find a way to ground the plane and get their friend off all before it takes off. What ensues is a roughly 13-minute action sequence that’s truly unlike anything that came before it.
Since the movie premiered in 2013, many internet sleuths and amateur mathematicians have done their best to calculate exactly how long the runway would have to be in order to accommodate the lengthy chase. The people at Vulture factored in the cars’ speeds and consulted an actual pilot to tell them how fast a cargo plane like that needs to go before it can take off, and their estimate put the runway at about 28.8 miles long. The folks at the BBC, however, factored in the idea that the movie was cutting between multiple things happening at once and put its estimate at 18.37 miles long.
Regardless, they both agree that the film’s runway well exceeds the largest paved runway in the world, at China’s Qamdo Bamda airport, which is around 3.5 miles.
Letty’s killer claims he saw her burn
Fast and Furious reunited the original gang from the first movie and is, in many ways, the first direct sequel to the original Fast and the Furious movie. The thing that brings Brian O’Conner and Dominic Toretto back together is the sudden and tragic death of their mutual friend, Letty.
When Brian convinced Letty to be an informant to the FBI, she got involved with some bad runners. One of them, Fenix, betrayed her and chased her down. He wrecked her car and is believed to have put a bullet in her head. Later in the movie, he tells Dom that he doesn’t remember Letty’s face.
"Last time I saw it, it was burning," are his exact words.
Apparently there was a fire.
In Fast & Furious 6, Brian goes to prison and is told by Fenix’s boss that Fenix actually pointed his gun at the gas tank and blew up the car. First of all, a bullet to the gas tank doesn’t always blow up a car in real life, but that’s not the main issue. The main issue is him saying he definitely killed Letty and even saw her body burning.
As fans know, Letty was blown clear of the wreckage. No bullet wounds and definitely no burns. Instead, she just has a nasty case of amnesia, which explains why she doesn’t remember Gisele Yashar bringing her to the hospital where she was found and recruited by Owen Shaw (something Gisele fails to ever mention).
Hobbs goes to the same prison as Shaw
Fate of the Furious begins with Lucas Hobbs being approached by a fellow DSS agent to inform him that he needs to recruit Toretto’s team for a job retrieving an EMP. He’s told in no uncertain terms that this operation in Berlin is off the books. If he’s caught, he will go to prison and be completely disavowed by his agency.
Hobbs accepts, not knowing that Toretto had been approached by Cipher and blackmailed into betraying his team. Hobbs is arrested and sent to prison, as promised. However, despite committing a crime in Berlin and being disavowed by the DSS, he finds himself in a DSS prison, the same one that’s housing Deckard Shaw. The question is: If the DSS wanted to disavow Hobbs for getting pinched in Berlin, why didn’t they just let police in Berlin imprison him? How did he end up in the custody of the people that are actively trying to pretend they have nothing to do with him?
One could argue that Mr. Nobody orchestrated the whole situation so he could bring Shaw into the mix. However, before Hobbs actually goes into his prison cell, he’s approached by Mr. Nobdoy with an offer to work for him, which he rejects. This makes the ensuing prison riot a clear Plan B for Mr. Nobody.
Admittedly, no true fan of the franchise would sacrifice the prison riot scene in that movie for all the international prisoner exchange logistics in the world. However, the fact remains that it’s a big plot hole.
How Letty got her memory back
At the conclusion of Furious 7, Letty reveals that at some point during the movie she got the entirety of her memory back just in time for the news to somehow heal Dom’s wounds and bring him back to consciousness.
By the eighth movie, she’s back to the character we saw last in Fast and Furious. However, it’s not fully explained how Letty got her memory back or why in the world she decided to sit on that information until Dom was basically dead.
It’s very subtly implied earlier in the film that her fight with Kara in Abu Dhabi may have knocked something loose in her brain. However, an emphasis should be placed on the words "subtly implied," because her reaction could also be reasonably explained by the gritty, intensely violent slog of a fight she had moments earlier.
Sadly, it’s never fully explained and it doesn’t look like the remainder of the franchise, however many installments that may be, has any plans to backtrack to address that. Instead, odds are good they’ll forge ahead with even more reality-bending, over-the-top action movie insanity. Not that the fans will be complaining.
The events of Tokyo Drift take place in 2015
It’s hard to really lock down the official timeline of the Fast and Furious franchise thanks in large part to the character Han. He was introduced in the 2006 movie The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift, an easy installment to ignore since it was barely in theaters. It was part of an initial effort to reinvent the franchise without Paul Walker or Vin Diesel.
In that film, Han dies tragically. It’s revealed in Furious 7 that Deckard Shaw was responsible for his death out of vengeance for the things Han did in Fast & Furious 6, meaning that the events of the fourth, fifth and sixth movies take place before the third. As a result, the events of Tokyo Drift are happening in roughly the year 2015, despite being released in 2006 and definitely not featuring a single car, piece of technology or reference to anything made in the last nine years.
Technically the timeline adds up if you want to believe that all of these people are reverse-aging. However, it stands tall as a pretty big monkey wrench in the gears of this overall bonkers franchise.