Fast and the Furious, one of the most successful film franchises of all time, has been distilled into a live action show and arena tour. With considerable anticipation that this much loved series of films will no doubt generate, with its millions of fans, we attended both the press preview show at the NEC in Birmingham and the London premiere in the O2 Arena.
The O2 premiere of Fast and Furious Live was a bona fide red carpet celebrity event, with the franchise’s main star, Vin Diesel making an appearance and taking the opportunity to say a few words on set before the show started.
Before seeing the show – we caught up with a few familiar faces on the red carpet and this is what they had to say;
Used Cars NI – “You are just about to go into the O2 Arena for the Premiere of fast & Furious Live, how does it feel”?
Derek ‘Buttsy’ Butler [Stunt Driver – Co. Waterford] – “I really can’t believe it – from drifting on the streets of Waterford and all over Ireland to now and I’m about to perform at the O2 in front of thousands – I’m super excited – lets rock”!
Used Cars NI – “You are here to see your good mate Buttsy, how are you feeling”?
Lewis ‘QBall’ Nickell [Worlds first tourette’s talk show host – Co. Down] – “Of course I am, of course I am – I’m excited, Buttsy Butler performing in the O2 Arena, what’s not to be excited about? He’s one of Ireland’s own mate and I’m buzzin about it, absolutely buzzin about it”. [QBall tics – “caramel”]
Used Cars NI – “You are about to go into, what is, everything you’ve ever dreamed of, how does it feel”?
Chris Burns [Lead Stunt Driver & Vehicle Procurement – Co. Fermanagh] – “It feels really good Graham, obviously a bit of nerves and bit of anxiety, this is the big one, this is what has been building up for years with 11,500 people here tonight – we are on the red carpet, we are about to be joined by Mr Fast & Furious himself, it’s a big thing, it’s a big deal! You know, we’ve got the picturesque London sky in the background, all the buildings and everything else”. [Used Cars NI – “A scene that has featured in so many movies involving cars”] “Yes very much so and to think that some of the cars here tonight have actually been racing around these streets before, and now they are about to be raced around a different part of London is amazing”.
Used Cars NI – “You are about to go into what is the end of five years of pre-work and the start of another five years touring, how are you feeling”?
Rowland French [Executive Producer & Brainchild of Fast & Furious Live] – “I am excited, I think a show like this, because there is so much interactivity in Fast & Furious Live, needs its crowd, it needs an audience, it needs the fans – so in many respects, all these months of rehearsing it in a big black box hasn’t really given us the true reading of it, we have been missing out third actor, so tonight is a big night for me, we are finally going to see it sing and I couldn’t be more excited”.
Used Cars NI – “I noticed on the way in, there is a huge amount of families and the show has always been geared and designed to be a family show but to me, I was amazed at the vast array of ages entering the show, have you noticed that tonight”?
Rowland French – “Yes, Fast & Furious Live was always wanted to be a family show as the whole brand is about family, so we very much created it to work with all age groups, absolutely”.
The live show does play up the strengths of the world of Fast and Furious, and to have Dominic Toretto himself on stage, not only validated the live show itself, but brought that extra bit of excitement to the start of a five-year world tour.
Fast and Furious Live kicks off with the Universal Films introduction projected on a huge screen at the end of the auditorium followed by quotes from the movie characters – Paul Walker’s on screen appearance eliciting gasps and applause from the crowd.
Music fills the auditorium drawn from the thumping back catalogue from the movie series. The excitement and anticipation is palpable.
The show then starts proper with a swat team style chase sequence. We’re introduced to two new characters in the Fast and Furious universe – Street Racer Sophia Diaz and DSS Agent Dawson. Not quite Letty and Dom or Hobbs and Elena from the films but you get the picture. The premise follows that we’re tracking down a baddie from Cipher’s crew.
Don’t worry if you don’t know your Tokyo Drift from Fast Five the plot is straightforward. Our protagonists use the experiences of Dom and his crew to help foil the bad guys. Que all the best cars from the films on stage.
The cars are definitely the stars in Fast and Furious Live with a list of greatest hits from the movie franchise. Brian’s orange targa-top Supra, Dom’s Charger (supercharger belt satisfyingly spinning over the bonnet), Han’s Orange on Blue Nissan Sylvia S15, the green Eclipse – I’m only scratching the surface here but if you loved any of those cars from the movies they are all here and in full blooded high horsepower form.
If you like what you see so far, Fast and Furious Live is coming to Belfast with 5 shows between Friday 4th May and Sunday 6th May 2018. See TicketMaster. Spoilers are now ahead as we delve deeper into this spectacular live show and why it will keep the Fast and Furious franchise burning rubber for the next decade.
After we are introduced to the cars and the stars we’re straight into the action. Elysla Wren, who plays street racer Sophia Diaz in the live show, is our narrator who takes us through each stage of the story. She and DSS Agent Dawson (Mark Ebulué) are to embark on a mission to hunt down Cain, a member of baddie Cipher’s crew (Cipher was played by Charilze Theron in Fate of the Furious).
They will use the techniques and vehicles of Dom and his crew along with the help of the audience and the cars of course, and so the first act kicks off with the insane flip car from Fast and Furious 6 in a helicopter rescue sequence. The car itself was certainly the star here, with 4 wheel independent steering allowing it to crab around the arena. Despite it’s moniker no cars were flipped a la Owen Shaw in Fast and Furious 6!
Next up is a recreation of the iconic truck heist sequence from the first movie, complete with the three black EJ Civics sporting green neons complete with truck and stuntman jumping from civic to truck and the ensuing shootout.
What stood out here was the live projection mapping system that projected the background not only onto a huge screen but also onto the arena floor. As you can see in the still above, the entire arena is transported into desert freeway adding to the drama.
The supra of course calls by to save the day. Surely one of the most recognisable movie car stars ever, and the crowd couldn’t get enough of it!
Next up is the tuning shop where we get to decide what bodykit and wheels are fitted to an Evo.
The audience vote with coloured flyers and votes are taken, with the Evo then built to star later in the event. Minutes later and with the magic of live projection we’re whisked off to Miami for some street racing.
The arena is filled with the neon hues bringing us right back to the scenes of 2 Fast 2 Furious complete with Honda S2000, Supra, RX7 and R34 GTR Skyline. Feeding the Fish carried out the stunning LED programming on the cars which is the visual cherry on top. Point of note, that’s not more neons under the cars, that’s the live projection in action!
Did it suddenly get cold in here? Roman’s orange Lambo rolls out onto the projected ice flanked by skimobiles in another iconic chase sequence, this time from last year’s The Fate of the Furious.
Nothing is safe in Fast and Furious Live. Dodge Chargers vault with the cash in Rio as Fast cash is blasted into the stands. The audience goes wild.
Next up we’re in the car park. Thankfully not the one that claimed hundreds of cars in a fire at Liverpool’s echo arena a few weeks back. No, we’re straight into Tokyo Drift with some cracking close quarters drifting between Han’s S15 and Takashi’s 350z chasing each other around concrete barriers.
I had a chance to look at the 350z after the show to find that it was one of the stunt cars used in the actual movie production. Not to take the shine off the other cars which are faithful nut and bolt recreations, many from Dennis McCarthy’s shop in California that builds the movie cars. It’s worth pointing out that with a VIP upgrade on your ticket you can get back stage after the show to see the cars. I’d highly recommend it for all petrolheads!
When an Impreza and Dodge Charger are thrown out of a plane in Fast and Furious 7 its a spectacular moment, but when it’s in front of your own eyes it was certainly a case of “How the hell did they do this.” I asked and now know, but you need to see it. No, its not with wires!
A Lykan Hypersport and a tank. Fantastic. The hardware on this show is just uber-cool and looks like a lot of fun. In the live show, the Lykan makes it’s appearance being liberated from a train, like the GT40 in Fast Five and is then chased by the tank from Fast 6. We will allow the artistic licence!
The grand finale plays upon one of the most talked about scenes in certainly the Fast franchise history. The runway sequence – how long was it, fights, explosions. Suspending belief we all enjoyed it for sure in the movies. Fast and Furious Live captures this epic moment and not even I will spoil how it ends. You’ll need to book some tickets for that.
And so as the lights come up and the public leave their seats, Whiz Khalifa’s track See You Again plays, and tugs on the Fast family (that’s you, audience) heart strings.
It’s been a long time, without you my friend. I’ll tell you all about it when I see you again.
Fast and Furious Live is touring now throughout Europe. For more information and tickets see fastandfuriouslive.com
For more imagery – please SEE GRAHAM’S FULL GALLERY HERE