Welcome to Beat the Algorithm — a recurring column dedicated to providing you with relevant and diverse streaming recommendations based on your favorite movies. Today, we’re hitting the NOS and recommending 13 high-octane thrill rides for fans of 2001’s ‘The Fast and The Furious.’
Over the last two decades, The Fast and Furious franchise has (pretty much) done it all. The film’s well-oiled heroes have battled everything from amnesia to submarines and collected a crew of supporting players to round out the literal and proverbial family. Suffice to say, these films are huge.
This is why it’s easy to forget the (relatively) humble origins: an undercover mission and some stolen DVD players. The 2001 film begins the series with Paul Walker’s LAPD officer Brian O’Conner infiltrating a group of street racers led by Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel). A romantic subplot with Dom’s sister Mia (Jordana Brewster) and a hell of a lot of chrome and oil later, Brian’s mission falls to the wayside in favor of his developing friendship. And the rest, as they say, is history.
Indeed, the first entry in this franchise, the one that has launched a thousand sportscars and eight sequels, can sometimes be overshadowed by its flashy followups. But on its own, the film is an entertaining tale of cops and robbers made memorable by its colorful characters and gleefully machismo indulgence.
In honor of the film’s 20th anniversary, we’re going to reflect on the place it all started. These streaming selections mostly reflect the tone and narrative of the 2001 film, with just enough explosive action to appease fans of the franchise’s more bombastic tendencies. So, without further ado, here are thirteen rip-roaring recommendations for fans of The Fast and The Furious.
Rebel Without A Cause (1955)
While the Fast and Furious films aren’t the traditional weepies, these films are packed to the gills with melodrama. And though there are plenty of classical tearjerkers that also deal in heightened emotion — think Douglas Sirk and George Cukor — Nicholas Ray‘s Rebel Without A Cause is a remarkable, male-centric take on the melodramatic mode. James Dean‘s performance style was highly expressive and emotive. In his most iconic role, feelings fester under the weight of stoicism until they explode. The fact that this film hinges on a drag race makes it a natural companion for modern racing movies, but it’s the way that Rebel Without A Cause is in touch with red-blooded emotion that really cements it as a must-watch.
Available on HBO Max.
Ok, we know this article promised you streaming picks, but hear us out. If anything is worth spending a few bucks on to rent, it’s Bullitt. The Steve McQueen-starring action movie is arguably the most influential car film of all time and with good reason. When the job of protecting a mob rat goes sour, McQueen’s titular lieutenant dashes through the winding streets of San Francisco as he tries to uncover the plot. This paves the way for the film’s famously exhilarating car chase. The iconic scene is a showstopper that’s as wondrous to watch now as it was in ’68.
Available to rent.
The Italian Job (1969) and The Italian Job (2003)
The first (but not last!) of our built-in double feature recommendations heads to the Mediterranean for two thrilling capers. The first features Michael Caine as a Cockney criminal gang leader intent on sailing south to pull off a gold bullion heist. His plan to become a bullion-aire is complicated by one hell of a car chase and a literal cliffhanger.
The 1969 film was highly influential, even inspiring the 2003 F. Gary Gray movie of the same name that is more of an homage than a direct remake. The American take on the story sees Mark Wahlberg’s mastermind Charlie and Charlize Theron’s safecracker Stella teaming up to get even with a slick double-crosser (Edward Norton). The excellent supporting cast also features Jason Statham, Seth Green, Mos Def, and Donald Sutherland. All around, these two films share a sense of excitement while differing enough not to feel repetitive.
Available on Amazon Prime and Max Go, respectively.
Gone in 60 Seconds (1974) and Gone in Sixty Seconds (2000)
The next pair of films admittedly differ quite a bit, but both manage to scratch certain Fast and Furious itches. The 1974 film follows a professional car thief tasked with nabbing 48 cars to resell for a killer profit. It also features (say it with us!) one hell of a car chase that apparently wrecked a total of 93 cars while filming. Renaissance man H. B. Halicki serves as director, writer, producer, and star. Notably, Halicki, after getting into an accident and being knocked out while filming, came to and immediately asked if they got coverage. They don’t make ’em like that anymore.
They do, however, love a good remake. Or, really, any remake. And while the 2000 reboot of the same name isn’t what we’d call a cinematic masterpiece, it is a greased-up, schlocky thrill ride. The Jerry Bruckheimer pic stars Nicolas Cage as a former car thief who comes out of retirement to save his brother. The impressive supporting cast — including Angelina Jolie, Robert Duvall, Giovanni Ribisi, and Delroy Lindo — round things out and make this film incredibly watchable. Though the remake doesn’t live up to the original, it is part and parcel of a certain early 2000s unabashed action style. Love it or hate it, it will absolutely satisfy a very distinct craving.
Available on Tubi and FuboTV, respectively.
Point Break (1991)
This recommendation probably goes without saying, but we couldn’t miss the opportunity to wax poetic about Point Break. Kathryn Bigelow‘s surfer heist thriller is a wondrously exciting caper that at times feels barely contained within its own image. On the surface, there are similar narrative beats to The Fast and The Furious. An undercover agent infiltrates a gang, dabbles in romance, and gets caught up with the charming leader.
But beyond that, Point Break is richly kinetic and vibrant. Blue waves ripple and shatter on-screen; grit and sand and sun fill the frame. Leading duo Keanu Reeves and Patrick Swayze both move with an effervescent charisma and are at once macho and languid. This is an explosively alive film that is both wholly unique and fluidly adaptable to a wide variety of comparisons and pairings. And if you ever get tired of car chases (is that possible?), we can guarantee you’ve never seen a foot chase like this one.
Available on HBO Max.