The Fast and the Furious (2001)

Source: Universal Pictures: Blu-ray, 2017.

Year: 2001

Director: Rob Cohen

Action Stars

Jordana Brewster

Vin Diesel

Michelle Rodriguez

Paul Walker

Genre: Crime Film Racing Film

Country: United States

Story Duration: 01:29:46

Act Duration:

1st Act: 00:26:16

2nd Act: 00:31:51

3rd Act: 00:19:27

4th Act: 00:21:57

Plot Turns:

1st: Brian rescues Dominic

2nd: Dominic confesses

3rd: Brian reveals identity to Mia

ASD Ratio: 65%

AAD Ratios:

1st Act: 62%

2nd Act: 48%

3rd Act: 56%

4th Act: 100%

Action Structure: 3214

Action Scenarios






Racing (Speed Variant)




Total Action Moments: 32

1. Engine ignition visualized as akin to solar power.
2. Exaggerated motion blur.
3. Passing scenery rendered as space-time warping.
4. Digitally simulated undercranking.
Action Structure

Notable Action Sequence: First Street Race

Duration: 00:06:38

Act: 1st

Action Scenarios:


Racing (Speed Variant)


With a 65% ASD ratio, The Fast and the Furious (2001) is one of the more action-orientated entries on this website. This in large part derives from its 4th Act, which manifests a 100% Action to Act Duration ratio as a result of its two consecutive, and extended, set pieces. Also contributing to the action is the film’s generic combination of the heist film, a subgenre of crime film, with the street racing film, two genres possessing their distinct action scenarios. On the heist film front, the film adapts the plot of Point Break (1991), replacing a bank-robbing gang of surfers with a street-racing gang of highway hijackers. On the street-racing front, the film showcases three racing scenes that draw from the conventions of previous hot rod films like Dragstrip Girl (1957) and Hot Rod Gang (1958).

Given the film’s emphasis on speed, pursuit, and racing, the speed scenario plays a central role in shaping its action sequences. The first street race in the film is notable due to its augmented speed aesthetic. Visual and auditory cues that are normally used in movies to convey the speed of objects are enhanced in this racing scene to a heightened degree such that it departs from the strictures of screen realism. One convention of the hot rod film is the display of the engine as the source of power that delivers speed to a vehicle. In the first racing scene, the powering engine is rendered through CGI, which depicts the injection of fuel as equivalent to the ignition of a miniature sun [Figure 1]. Another speed cue that is amplified in the racing scene is the velocity of a vehicle that is captured as it passes before a proximate camera, but in this instance accompanied by exaggerated motion blur [Figure 2]. In addition to the speed cue of an object passing before the camera is the use of passing stationary scenery, whether in the foreground or background, to contrast with the motion of the speeding vehicle. In the first racing scene, this cue is visualized at one point as a warping of the space-time continuum, something more expected with velocities associated with objects approaching light speed [Figure 3]. Another technique to convey speed is undercranking, the filming of an object or person at a slower frame rate so that the action is sped up when projected. In the first racing scene, this technique is digitally simulated with the depiction of the vehicles traveling at unnatural excessive speeds [Figure 4]. Working in conjunction with this set of visual cues are a range of auditory prompts, including the sound of high-revving engines, gear shifting, squealing tires, and NOS ignition. Speed in The Fast and the Furious is consequently a multi-sensory experience.


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