Behind the scenes at Fast & Furious Live

Whether you really do live your life or quarter-mile at the time or just enjoy a good hangover box set binge, there's no escaping the Fast & Furious franchise. What began as a niche look into street racing culture has become a global blockbuster franchise, with all the trappings of global fame that come with it. So eight films down (with at least two more to go) it's time for the show: Fast & Furious Live.

The idea of putting the film into a live action arena makes so much sense that it's a surprise it hasn't happened sooner. You get the authentic sounds and smells that even the best cinemas can't convey (yet) and a sense of genuine danger which only a live automotive event can provide.

Anyway, to the show itself. Or rather, the dress rehearsal at the NEC. We spent a day with the team, looking around the cars and watching the stunts, so here's what you have to look forward to if you're going to Fast and Furious Live.

Look elsewhere for a rundown of the script and the actors, because the stars for us are of course those on four wheels. Whatever your favourite car from the Fast & Furious franchise is, there's a strong chance it features in the show: Brian's Supra, Dom's Charger (separate feature to follow on those two), the Tokyo Drift Nissans, the Miami street race cars from 2 Fast 2 Furious, the mad flip car... There's even a Lykan Hypersport. So you really are covered for pretty much everything, and they look great.

In the cars are 11 stunt drivers, everyone from professional stunt drivers to drift champs, who had to audition for their part and endured four months of training before rehearsals. Because even though you might associate the NEC with a huge exhibition space, the overall arena doesn't look much bigger than an ice hockey rink - powersliding a 350Z around that takes some skill. And bravery.

Of course we'd all like to think that we could do a bit of stunt driving if we tried hard enough, thanks to a misspent youth of handbrake turns and one or two jammy drifts. But the level of precision on show at Fast and Furious Live is something else, the manoeuvres centimetre perfect and the stunts seemingly flawless. To achieve all this in a pack of cars, while remembering the choreography and then jumping into a completely different vehicle for another act, is a display of remarkable talent. They could be doing it in Fiesta vans around cones in the car park and you'd pay to watch because the driving is so good.

That the show is so immersive and so exciting makes the driving even more dramatic. No, really. Because I was pretty cynical about the idea of an arena show too. The 2 Fast 2 Furious 'race' is perhaps the best demonstration of this, the amazing LED cars are like nothing seen in this kind of production before and the projected road adding to the sense of drama and speed. It's easy to think that the show might just be Civics doing handbrake turns in an exhibition hall, but it's hundreds of times better than that - the Miami scene makes that case emphatically very early in the show. In fact the only disappointment is that the cars don't sound like you might hope; for the sake of durability (and ease of replacement) they all use four-cylinder engines. So there's no straight-six scream from the Skyline or rotary wail from the RX-7, but then would you fancy sourcing replacement RB26s for a global tour?

Being a dress rehearsal, featuring the mishaps and delays that those days feature, we didn't see the whole show. But there was more than enough to be very pleased by in this taste. We've not even mentioned the submarine yet (or the jet Charger that goes with it), the Rio bank job, or the tank. Or the Buick Gran National GNX. Swish.

There was every possibility that the Fast & Furious Live show could be a bit naff, a tacky homage that only aimed to cash in on the franchise. But, while it's never going to be a subtle and emotional stage effort, the originality, innovation and engagement of Fast & Furious Live should ensure nobody leaves disappointed. It moves the films successfully into another arena (pun kind of intended) and we can't wait to see the full thing on Friday. See you at the O2...








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Comments (25) Join the discussion on the forum

  • RRH 17 Jan 2018

    We went to the first preview show, last Thursday, in Liverpool.
    It was absolutely excellent.
    I just expected some cars doing donuts but it was like being in the middle of a film set.
    One suggestion I would make though is to sit at the end of the arena, facing the 'stage'.
    Have a look at this and you'll see what I mean.

  • Grant Tuscan 17 Jan 2018

    Can't say I've seen too many of the films... but the arena show sounds pretty spectacular. I'm in!

  • slk 32 18 Jan 2018


  • Scottie - NW 18 Jan 2018

    Seriously just had to check it wasn't 1st April.

    All cars are four cylinder?????

    I thought the whole point of this was to experience the sounds in real life and then you find it's fake engines and not even accurate sounds.

    May as well just go to Maccie D's and hear some Civics revving up!

    Thanks to PH for warning us of this though, doubt they publish that in the adverts.

  • RRH 18 Jan 2018

    I’m struggling to believe that 4 cylinder comment in the article, having witnessed the show from close to the arena they certainly weren’t all 4 cylinder engines!

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