Fast and Furious

Inciting Event: Dom learns his girlfriend Letty has been murdered. There’s a lot happening right here around the 12% mark: Dom leaves Letty (to protect her), Brian appears for the first time as he’s discovering information about a man who supplies cars to the Braga drug cartel, and then Dom gets the call from his sister Mia about Letty’s death. All these scenes happen one right after the other: boom, boom, boom. But Letty’s death is clearly the Inciting Event, because it’s what begins the story’s main conflict about Dom’s quest for revenge.

First Plot Point: Dom and Brian meet at a suspect’s house and learn they’re both after Braga. Although they learn important information about Braga here, the main event in this comparatively small plot point is the awaited reunion between the main characters. It’s played out in a relatively low-key way that doesn’t make for the snappiest of First Plot Points, but which does work out well within the story. This marks the end of the Normal World of Dom and Brian working independently of each other. From this point on, their story-lines will be interconnected.

First Pinch Point: Dom and Brian meet Braga’s second-in-command and other henchmen in the organization. The “new clues” here are the introduction of the antagonists themselves, along with some information about Braga. The movie then follows up this relatively low-key scene with a full-fledged action scene in which Dom and Brian race to try to gain spots in the Braga organization.

Midpoint: Dom and Brian go on their first mission for Braga. Revelations are relatively sparse here–although Dom did previously learn that Letty’s killer is the henchman named Phoenix. In action movies, the Midpoint is almost always going to be an action extravaganza, with the important plot-changing revelation sidelined to either prior to or after the big scene. However, it’s always nice when the revelation can actually figure into the scene itself.

Second Pinch Point: Dom blows up cars in an attempt to kill Phoenix and gets himself shot in the process. He and Brian steal Braga’s drug shipment. Dom then learns that Letty died while working for the FBI. This turning point is primarily in the protagonists’ favor, but it does push them up against the ropes by blowing their cover with Braga and putting Brian in the tough spot of convincing the FBI to go along with their plan to uncover Braga himself.

Third Plot Point: Dom and Brian’s plan to capture Braga goes south when the FBI jumps the gun and arrests the wrong man. Dom and Brian realize that the second-in-command is actually Braga himself. This isn’t an amazing Third Plot Point, but it does represent the loss of all the characters’ hopes. They lose Braga, they lose Dom’s shot at amnesty, and they lose the killer Phoenix.

Climax: Dom and Brian go to Mexico to capture Braga. Note the clear shift here thanks to the setting change. Climaxes usually work best when they are contained units in some obvious way. Setting constraints are often a great way to achieve that.

Climactic Moment: Dom kills Phoenix. Dom’s main goal has always been to get Letty’s killer. Braga is just a bonus, so his arrest (and re-arrest, since he could conceivably have tried to run away again while Dom was checking Brian’s wounds) are appropriately not the focus of the Climactic Moment.

Resolution: Dom is sentence to life in prison, but Brian and Mia arrive to rescue him.

Notes: I’ve mentioned several times throughout this analysis that the major structural moments aren’t particularly amazing or memorable examples–and they’re not. But this film does work very nicely as a whole. Its strength is in the understatement of the relationships playing out beneath the over-the-top action of the main conflict. The structural markers are all where they need to be, and they do a good job of holding the story together, even though they’re not killer in themselves.

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