Wilder Schmaltz

FURIOUS 7 comes out this weekend. The previous Fast & Furious films made $2.3 billion. You probably just screamed "Wow! That's a lot of money!" Yeah it is! And they earned it, because they're fucking fantastic. What started in 2001 as "Point Break—with cars!" has evolved into a ridiculously enjoyable series with a fine-tuned formula: Loveable characters. Blue-collar charm. Looney Tunes action. A lot of speeches about family.

Due to the Fast & Furious saga being the grandest legend since the Odyssey, we're now looking at 12-plus hours of car-racing, globe-trotting, face-kicking, and plot-twisting—and a surprisingly intricate story and chronology. (Nota bene: While The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift [2006] was released after The Fast and the Furious [2001] and 2 Fast 2 Furious [2003], the events in Tokyo Drift take place after those of Fast & Furious [2009], Fast Five [2011], and Fast & Furious 6 [2013], but before those of Furious 7.)

That's a lot of catching up to do for Furious 7—a film that, aside from introducing Tony Jaa, Jason Statham, and Kurt Motherfucking Russell into this high-octane opera, serves as a tribute to star Paul Walker, who died during filming. (Costar Vin Diesel, who recently named his newborn daughter Pauline, calls Furious 7 "a labor of love.") So let's revisit the Fast & Furious family. Let's take a drive down memory lane... a quarter-mile at a time.

BRIAN O'CONNER (Paul Walker)

Way back in olden times, in the very first The Fast and the Furious (also known [to me] as The First and the Furious), whitebread cop Brian went undercover to catch Los Angeles' degenerate street racers! Daringly earning the trust of the car-crazed Toretto family—Dom, Dom's sister Mia, and Dom's true love, Letty—Brian's blossoming love for Mia and burgeoning reverence for Dom meant he was forced to choose sides. Brian chose wisely. Brian is now the noblest of outlaws.

DOMINIC TORETTO (Vin Diesel)

While technically a multiple murderer, Dom prefers to growl Zen koans such as "You don't turn your back on family... even when they do," and "I don't have friends... I got family." Haunted by his father's tragic demise in a stock car race, Dom will do anything to protect his family—from escaping an exploding train by driving off a cliff (to save Brian) to jumping hundreds of feet over a canyon (to catch Letty in mid-air after she was catapulted into the sky by a tank).

LETTY ORTIZ (Michelle Rodriguez)

A master of wits, fists, and gearshifts, Letty is the most badass character. Not just in these movies. In all movies. Tragically, she was murdered in Fast & Furious, setting off a revenge spree in which Brian and Dom took down Mexican crime lord Braga (John Ortiz). However! In Fast Five, it was revealed—surprise!—that Letty is ALIVE! She returned in Furious 6, but now she has amnesia. :(

MIA TORETTO (Jordana Brewster)

Mia was instrumental in Fast Five's high-speed jailbreak, which ended with a prison bus that carried her brother, Dom, flipping six times. (It's okay! Everyone was fine!) Mia and her true love Brian have a baby. That is all. It is perhaps possible that Mia is not a super well-rounded character.

LUKE HOBBS (The Rock)

Diplomatic Security Service Agent Hobbs butted heads with Dom in Fast Five (literally! Their heads bumped!), when the family stole a giant-ass safe from Brazilian crime lord Hernan Reyes (Joaquim de Almeida), in the process destroying like half of Rio. But now Hobbs and Dom are buddies! In Furious 6, Hobbs hired the family to battle British crime lord Owen Shaw (Luke Evans), in the process destroying like half of London. Hobbs' partner is Rio cop Elena Neves (Elsa Pataky); Hobbs' previous partner, Riley Hicks (Gina Carano), was a traitor who got blown out of an airplane when Letty shot her in the chest with a grappling gun. Ha! That is so Letty! (Not that Letty would remember.) (Because Letty has amnesia.)

HAN SEOUL-OH (Sung Kang)

Originally a character in the 2002 Sundance hit Better Luck Tomorrow—which means a Fast & Furious movie basically played at Sundance—Han's interests included Tokyo drifting, eating snacks, and loving his true love, Gisele. But good eye, dear reader, good eye: I used the past tense. Tragically, Han died in an accidental drifting accident at the end of Tokyo Drift. However! In Furious 6, it was revealed—surprise!—that Han's accidental drifting accident WASN'T ACCIDENTAL AT ALL! The bastard responsible was Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham)! I loved Han like Han loved snacks (and Gisele). I demand vengeance.

GISELE YASHAR (Gal Gadot)

Fast & Furious introduced Gisele as a villainous seductress—but by Fast Five, she and her motorcycle were already part of the family? Look, I appreciate Gisele's sweet wheelies as much as anyone, but that's just bullshit. Anyway, tragically, she died in Furious 6, bravely sacrificing herself to save Han, her beloved. (Han then went to Tokyo and died.)

SEAN BOSWELL (Lucas Black)

When Alabama juvenile-delinquent-with-a-heart-of-gold Sean found himself adrift in Tokyo, he teamed up with Han and Twinkie (Bow Wow) to face off against yakuza crime lord Uncle Kamata (Sonny Chiba)! Oh! And! Just before Tokyo Drift's end credits, Sean met a mysterious, nomadic street racer... Dom?! Wait! What!!

TEJ PARKER (Ludacris)

Frolicsome Tej is the family's tech wizard—when he isn't cracking wise with his BFF Roman! Because Luda is very multitalented, he also contributes songs to the soundtracks, like "Act a Fool," which is probably the best thing about 2 Fast 2 Furious. I'll be honest: 2 Fast 2 Furious isn't very good.

ROMAN PEARCE (Tyrese Gibson)

In 2 Fast 2 Furious, which I already feel bad about saying wasn't very good, smooth-talkin', lady-lovin' Roman was recruited by his childhood pal Brian and US Customs Agent Monica Fuentes (Eva Mendes) to bust Miami crime lord Carter Verone (Cole Hauser). (Miami, unlike Rio and London, was not destroyed. Or at least it hasn't been destroyed yet. There will probably be like 10 more of these movies, so there's still time.) In Fast Five, Roman spoke language's greatest combination of words: "This just went from mission impossible to mission in-freakin'-sanity!"

TEGO LEO AND RICO SANTOS (Tego Calderón and Don Omar)

Played by Puerto Rican reggaeton superstars Tego Calderón and Don Omar, Dom's associates Tego and Rico don't talk much... instead, they sing! (They did theme songs for Fast & Furious and Fast Five.) Hey, speaking of super-inspirational theme songs: Furious 7 will feature (A) skydiving cars, and (B) Wiz Khalifa and Iggy Azalea's "Go Hard or Go Home." "Push it to the edge, I won't back down, 'cause it's time to go hard or go home," sings Khalifa. "Give it all—all for the family. Family. Family. Fam-fam-family."

AND THERE YOU HAVE THEM: the facts and the furious. Congratulations! You are now totally prepared for Furious 7. (JK. No one can be prepared for Furious 7.)