The Fast and Furious movies are unapologetic celebrations of awesome automobiles, scantily clad women, and bald dudes bulging with muscle. They're so manly that they're actually deeply sentimental — and with good reason in Furious 7, during the shooting of which star Paul Walker died. The films' joyful silliness makes their attention to detail all the more gratifying, because it's so unasked for. Who would expect such a sense of continuity from films that found a way to have skydiving cars?
Now seven installments strong, the franchise has a complicated timeline — in chronological order, the films run 1, 2, 4, 5, 6, 3, 7 — and an increasingly deep bench of characters. And yet, the further it gets from its humble beginnings as a Point Break ripoff about street racing, the more it references its own history. Here are 15 of its callbacks, cameos, and references to past movies.
1. Jason Statham plays the brother that Luke Evans' character mentioned in Furious 6.
Having your new bad guy be the surprise sibling your earlier bad guy never mentioned (because the screenwriters hadn't invented him yet) is the standard hand-waving stuff of action movies. Consider Simon Peter Gruber, the villain of Die Hard With a Vengeance, who's played by Jeremy Irons, and who's revealed to be the brother of Hans Gruber, the villain from the first Die Hard.
But Deckard Shaw (Statham) was mentioned in Furious 6. Owen Shaw (Luke Evans) teed up his eventual arrival while trying to ward off Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) on the streets of London. "You know, when I was young, my brother always used to say, 'Every man has to have a code.' Mine? Precision," Owen said. Later, Dom asked, "Your brother never told you, 'Never threaten a man's family'?" When Statham showed up in the end-credits scene in Furious 6, all he said was, "Dominic Toretto! You don't know me. You're about to." It's not until Furious 7 that we learn Dom does know Deckard, or at least knows of him, because he's the man from Owen's anecdote.
2. Race Wars is back.
When Dom takes Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) on a drive in the desert at the start of Furious 7, he's not, thank god, taking her on a surprise date to Burning Man. Instead, the couple heads to a racing event happening out in the middle of nowhere. It's Race Wars, back for a second time, where everyone shows up in the desert to race the exact same people they normally race in the streets of Los Angeles — only this time they get to do it in the bright light of day, and the gyrating women who are always hanging around also pour water on themselves. Letty competes and wins at Race Wars in Furious 7, just like she did when the event first appeared in The Fast and the Furious, but it doesn't solve her memory loss problem.
3. Iggy Azalea is only the latest musical artist to make a cameo.
Iggy Azalea is just kind of hanging out at Furious 7's Race Wars as a fan of Letty (who presumably has no idea who Azalea is — amnesia!). "Hey, there's the girl I've heard so much about. Where you been at, ghost girl?" Azalea says. Letty is so stressed out by this encounter that she punches someone. That someone is not Iggy Azalea.
This one-line appearance is Azalea's first in a Fast and Furious film, but it's just the latest in a string of cameos from musical artists in the series. Romeo Santos also makes an appearance as Mando, the man who gives shelter to Mia (Jordana Brewster) and the baby in his apparent fortress in the Dominican Republic. Back in The Fast and the Furious, Ja Rule was Edwin, a street racer who talked about himself in the third person and who was promised a threesome by his girl if he won a race. MC Jin (remember MC Jin?) played Jimmy, a mechanic in 2 Fast 2 Furious. And Rita Ora turned up to start a London street race in Furious 6.
And then there are all the musician/actors in bigger parts — Bow Wow in The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift, Tego Calderón and Don Omar in Fast & Furious and Fast Five, and Ludacris, whose 2 Fast 2 Furious character, Tej, became one of the series' regulars. So it's not impossible that we might see Azalea jumping a BearCat through La Grande Arche de la Défense in some future film.
4. Hector is still around, and he's still racing.
The non-Iggy Azalea person that Letty punches at Race Wars? It's Hector from The Fast and the Furious, played by Noel Gugliemi — making this the guy's first appearance in the franchise since 2001, and he gets socked in the nose. Hector organized the race in which Brian (Paul Walker) lost his car to Dom at the beginning of The Fast and the Furious, and he's still on the scene.
5. The Rock is dealing with his sweat problem.
In his first scene in Furious 7, Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson is shown at his desk at the Diplomatic Security Service, dramatically dabbing himself with a towel. It's a nod to Fast Five, in which Johnson's character, Luke Hobbs, was the only one who seemed affected by the Rio de Janeiro heat.
Everyone else looked fine, but Johnson, for reasons never explained, spent the whole movie drenched in sweat, like he'd been doing burpees right up until the second the cameras started rolling. Maybe it's all those tight shirts Hobbs wears. Synthetics, man. They don't always breathe.
6. Elena's looking for a new gig.
Elsa Pataky, who played Dom's temporary love interest Elena in Fast Five and the beginning of Furious 6, has what amounts to an extended cameo in Furious 7. We learn she's in the market for a new job — maybe because she ran off with a criminal back when she was a Rio de Janeiro cop — when Hobbs hands her a letter of recommendation. And Dom gets to see her fabulous new short 'do, which is some small consolation for his going back to his not-dead-after-all ex.
7. That Tokyo call from Deckard Shaw was more than just a taunt.
In The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift, Han Seoul-Oh (Sung Kang) dies when someone crashes into his car in the middle of a race through Shibuya. At the end of Furious 6, that scene's revisited from the perspective of Deckard, who's revealed to be the one who intentionally broadsided Han as the first part of his plan to exact revenge on Dom and his team.
Furious 7 goes back to that scene again, this time from Dom's perspective as he takes the call at the Toretto family home in Echo Park. Turns out Deckard wasn't just pulling off a perfectly timed walk away from the explosion. He also triggers a bomb he'd sent to Dom from a continent away, taking out the house. Han's death was sad, but who knew the scene in which it happened was so damn involved?
8. Hobbs does love the Hulk.
"So now we work for the Hulk? That's what we're doing?" Roman Pearce (Tyrese Gibson) joked when Dom's team ended up working with Hobbs again in Furious 6. And what's Hobbs watching while he's in the hospital in Furious 7? The Incredible Hulk, the classic '70s TV version with Lou Ferrigno.
9. Dom is the Drift King.
The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift ends with a cameo from Vin Diesel, in which Dom rolled into town claiming to have been friends with Han and challenged Sean Boswell (Lucas Black) to a race. Furious 7 goes back to that scene, and though we don't actually see the race that follows, we do see Dom and Sean chatting afterward, with Dom asking, "Who says American muscle can't drift?" That line, alongside the fact that Dom doesn't lose unless it's intentional, suggests that he won, making him Tokyo's new (and immediately absentee) Drift King.
10. Dom plays a much tougher game of chicken than Brian.
In 2 Fast 2 Furious, Brian and a street racer named Korpi (John Cenatiempo) go head to head while competing for pink slips, and Korpi bails out first. When Dom and Deckard do the same thing in Furious 7, they just ram right into each other — twice! — with no hesitation.
11. Corona remains Dom's drink of choice.
Offered a Belgian brew from Mr. Nobody's (Kurt Russell) private keg in Furious 7, Dom's not interested. Back in The Fast and the Furious, he declared his beer fealty to Brian by telling him, "You can have any brew you want...as long as it's a Corona." Fortunately for Dom and the product-placement department, Nobody happens to have a bucket of Coronas just lying around, because he's running an impeccably stocked secret government facility.
12. The tuna has always been terrible.
In The Fast and the Furious, Brian first tried to win his way into Dom's circle of trust by going to the family store and flirting with Mia over lunch, ordering "tuna on white, no crust." In a teary phone call with Mia in Furious 7 before Brian is off to do something dangerous, the two reminiscence about their meeting and how terrible the tuna was: "It was such a bad sandwich." Something never discussed: how Mia still managed to fall in love with Brian when the first thing she learned about him was that he needed the crusts cut off his sandwich.
13. Dom's Charger is as invincible as he is.
Dom has driven a lot of different cars throughout the Fast and Furious franchise, but the 1970 Dodge Charger is his signature special-occasion ride. In The Fast and the Furious, he said he'd never driven the car ("nine hundred horses of Detroit muscle") because "it scares the shit out of me." He did eventually drive and wreck it in a not-quite-suicidal run at the end of the movie. Letty started to rebuild the car in Fast & Furious, and it was used in (and somehow made it out of) the Mexico/U.S. border tunnels in that movie's climactic sequence.
In Fast Five Hobbs rammed the car in Rio, but in Furious 7, Dom heads to his garage and whips a drop cloth off a miraculously intact Charger before heading out to his final confrontation with Deckard. Deckard blows up the Toretto house, but manages to leave the garage out back untouched — even he couldn't harm the Charger.
14. Brian's kept some of his FBI gear.
Brian started the series as an undercover LAPD cop, became a criminal working with the U.S. Customs Service in 2 Fast 2 Furious, became an FBI agent in Fast & Furious, then was a criminal again. As he's gearing up for the big showdown in Furious 7, he's shown putting on a bulletproof vest labeled FBI — at least he got some gear out of all that flip-flopping across both sides of the law.
15. Dom's still got a thing for wrenches.
After coming out on top against Deckard in a car battle, Dom pulls out a pair of long wrenches, Deckard grabs some tire irons, and the pair proceed to have a duel on top of a parking garage. It's not just the epitome of stupid/awesome, it's an outsize callback to the incident that put Dom in prison and on the road to criminality years earlier. In The Fast and the Furious, Dom told Brian about the incident that landed him behind bars, when he nearly killed the man who accidentally caused his father's death. "I had a wrench, and I hit him. And I didn't intend to keep hitting him, but when I finished, I couldn't lift my arm."
It's a moment the series goes back to in Fast Five, when he almost smashes Johnson's head in with a convenient wrench. In Furious 7, though, Dom gets a new finishing move — causing the ground to crumble with the weight of his street cred. Deckard lives to fight another day, maybe because the franchise needs as many tough guys as it can get.