The 7 Best Michelle Rodriguez Movies

The 7 Best Michelle Rodriguez Movies

Michelle Rodriguez is something of a box office phenomenon. She is most famous for her performances in the Fast & Furious franchise as Letty Ortiz, who she has played for nearly two decades. In that meantime, she has had a myriad of other great or otherwise noteworthy performances. She has worked with award-winning directors like James Cameron, Steve McQueen, and Robert Rodriguez in some of their biggest projects to date. Though she mainly sticks to the silver screen, she also played a key recurring role in J.J. Abrams’ sprawling and groundbreaking television series Lost. Regardless of the medium, Michelle Rodriguez’s unique performances are nothing short of irreplaceable. Here are her seven best to date.

The Fast and the Furious (2001)

Aside from the central characters, the Fast & Furious franchise today is quite different from the original film. The Fast and the Furious was much closer to a melodrama than the films which would follow it. Street racing and carjacking, however, have been key threads which connect all the films. Here, the audience is first introduced to Brian O’Conner (Paul Walker), a pretty boy undercover officer for the LAPD.  He hopes to uncover the culprits behind a local incident in which a big rig was stolen. As a result, he finds himself in the orbit of Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel), a skilled mechanic and street racer. Dom’s gang, which includes his girlfriend Letty (Rodriguez) and his sister Mia (Jordana Brewster), become prime suspects. Unfortunately for Brian’s professional hopes of becoming a detective, he develops an affection for Mia and mutual respect for Dom. It is far from the most exciting Fast & Furious film, but a nonetheless important starting point.

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Fast & Furious (2009)

It was not until director Justin Lin took over that the Fast & Furious franchise began to find its voice. Starting with Fast & Furious: Tokyo Drift, which featured an all-new cast of characters — excluding Vin Diesel’s Dom, who makes a cameo. The following film returned to the main narrative arc of Dom, Brian, Letty, and Mia. Dom and Letty are now fugitives and operating hijackings in the Dominican Republic. That is until Dom decides to break up the group’s arrangement for fear of getting caught. He and Letty sadly part ways until some tragic news results in Dom and Brian crossing paths and teaming up once again. The relationship between Dom and Letty is more fully fleshed out in the preceding short film Los Bandoleros.

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Fast & Furious 6 (2013)

Rodriguez was absent from Fast Five due to the — apparently false — belief that she had been killed. In the film, we are introduced to Federal Agent Luke Hobbs (Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson). After failing to capture Dom and his team in the film, he employs the “if you can’t beat ‘em, hire ‘em” method in Fast & Furious 6. Hobbs recruits Dom, Brian and company to help him track down and capture a team of highly-skilled criminals led by a man named Owen Shaw (Luke Evans). Things get even more complicated when they discover Letty is in fact alive and now an integral member of Owen’s crew. The resulting film is one of, if not the best of the franchise to date.

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Furious 7 (2015)

Following the events of the previous film, Letty has been brought back into the fold, but things aren’t quite the same. Brian feels the pull toward fatherhood and away from the life of a modern outlaw. Even Dom himself is torn between two different worlds. Nonetheless, the “family” is once again thrust into a situation which requires their nearly-unmatched set of skills. Owen Shaw’s brother Deckard (Jason Statham) seeks revenge. He begins picking off members of Dom’s crew one by one. To stop the bloodshed and bring Deckard to justice, Dom, Brian, Letty and join forces “Mr. Nobody” (Kurt Russell) and his mysterious espionage organization. Due to the untimely passing of Paul Walker, the film was rewritten to be Brian’s swan song above all else. In spite of that, Rodriguez gets a decent chunk of screentime. 

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Fate of the Furious (2017)

Though Brian O’Connor has left the game and Deckard Shaw is in custody, the drama continues for the “family.” Without warning, Dom turns on the lot of them — including Letty. This revelation sends the crew reeling and rudderless. His motivations are unclear. What would cause Dom to abandon his loved ones? Is his terrorist conspirator Cipher (Charlize Theron) to blame? F. Gary Gray’s entrance to the franchise is indeed a welcome one.

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Widows (2018)

Steve McQueen and Gillian Flynn teamed up to wrestle with the world today with their film remake of the British series Widows. Harry Rawlings (Liam Neeson) and his team of expert criminals (Jon Bernthal, Manuel Garcia-Rulfo, and Coburn Goss) are killed in a botched job. Their failure is passed onto their widows: (Viola Davis, Elizabeth Debicki, Rodriguez and Carrie Coon; respectively). They have only a handful of days to come up with $2 million to pay back their husbands’ victims, the Manning crime family (Daniel Kaluuya and Brian Tyree Henry). Though Widows feels overstuffed — which is likely the result of translating a series to the silver screen — McQueen’s hand behind the camera is as steady and confident as ever. The film features a wealth of laudable supporting performances, namely Rodriguez, Debicki, Kaluuya, Henry, Colin Farrell, and Cynthia Ervino.

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Avatar (2009)

James Cameron’s return to science fiction was met with another all-time box office performance. In the film, he imagines a world called Pandora, in which a native species known as the Na’vi live in the unspoiled wilderness. Then a military unit from Earth arrives to harvest Pandora’s most precious natural resource: unobtanium. To accomplish this task, the unit employs the Avatar Program, a technique in which former a Marine named Jake Sully (Sam Worthington) occupies a genetically-modified Na’vi body so that he may foster peace with them. Jake finds himself torn between his world and Pandora as he falls in love with a Na’vi named Neytiri (Zoe Saldana). Rodriguez’s contribution as the military pilot turned Na’vi ally is sturdy despite the narrative being a retread of other “White Savior” films. 

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Weekend: May. 23, 2019, May. 26, 2019

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