5 out of 5
By Anthony Digioia
This franchise started back in 2001, has spawned 8 films now after next month. It has reinvented itself a number of times, always tries to up the ante of spectacle, and surprisingly enough, shows no signs of slowing down, and seems to be only getting more traction among fans. So, let’s get into this list and rank the 7 films in the “Fast and Furious” franchise.
7. The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift (2006)
This was the third film in the franchise and was missing more than just the presence of Paul Walker and Vin Diesel. It was a cut-and-paste story and Lucas Black did his best but did not carry this film in my opinion. There were some visually appealing Tokyo settings, the drift racing element did provide some fun moments through the skillful direction of Justin Lin. This film did introduce the likable character of Han played by Sung Kang. But overall this was one far from great, and one of the more forgettable films in the series.
6. 2 Fast 2 Furious (2003)
Director John Singleton took a stab at the franchise with the second film and while many panned this sequel, I found it to be a good time. The element of street racing was still a focal point and the chemistry of Paul Walker and the newly added Tyrese Gibson was energetic.
The Miami settings were enjoyable and with new characters played by Ludacris, Devon Aoki and Eva Mendes, there was enough to pass the time through the routine plot-line. This film did have its flaws but for a pure mindless action film it was more than serviceable.
5. Fast & Furious (2009)
The band got back together for the 4th entry in the series and the result was an upswing from Tokyo Drift. Justin Lin was directing once again. The character dynamics were reintroduced from the first film, and while the plot was once again ordinary for the most part in terms of overall arc, it still delivers tons of great racing, and a start to the evolution of the common story formula for the franchise.
The car sequences through the caves are nail-biting and the soap opera style return of Lety was dumb fun. This was also the intro film for Gal Gadot’s character Gisele. And last but certainly not least, the reuniting of Diesel and Walker, something that on its own was enough to make this film entertaining.
4. Fast & Furious 6 (2013)
This 6th entry directed once again by Justin Lin was the film that took the franchise into full blown over-the-top spectacle and it was a great adventure. The stunts were wildly large scale, and fun to watch both from a technical aspect as well as from a pure action film fan. The cast was in full swing with Dwayne Johnson shining as Hobbs, a great fight sequence between Michelle Rodriguez and Gina Carano as well as loads of fight sequences, car chases and a solid villain played by Luke Evans.
This film took the franchise to that of the intricate heist, there was still some of the nostalgic street racing, but to me this was the story-line that took the series into the realm of the soap opera, complete with the always laughable amnesia story angle. The run-time was long and it didn’t waste a minute filling it with endless waves of ridiculously enjoyable action.
Despite the cast returning for “Fast & Furious” in 2009 the result was still not as fresh as studios would have liked. With this 5th film, the franchise caught a whiff of potential and decided to ‘smell what the Rock was cooking’ and brought in Dwayne Johnson. This film turned out to be the evolution film from street-racing to heist films with a good blend of both.
I really enjoyed the story-line in this one. Loved the settings and character dynamics and watching ‘The Rock’ chase down O’Conner and Toretto was an enjoyable ride. The third-act was a blast and well-orchestrated and with so many spectacular action set-pieces, they still felt somewhat grounded in comparison to the future films, making this entry one of my favorites.
2. Furious 7 (2015)
So, what do you do when you have hit the 7th film in the franchise, having seemingly done it all? You enlist the skilled directorial efforts of James Wan, who usually resided in the horror genre. Oh, and you dump some cars out of an airplane and jump one between two skyscrapers.
This was a film that had some flaws, like wasting the talents of Johnson as well as newly added Jason Statham. Admittedly, Statham had his moments but there were times he was forgotten in the story-line only to suddenly appear out of convenience. Regardless, this film was filled with so many insane stunt-sequences that will have you one edge.
But even more important to the entertainment of this film to me, was in the fight-sequences. Diesel and Statham mix it up, Rodriguez and Rousey go at it, Johnson and Statham also share a night alone at the office, and to me the best of all, were the sequences between Paul Walker and Tony Jaa. There was so much going on in this story-line and it really does take the viewer on a ride, with a little side of Kurt Russell sprinkled in there as well.
Even more so, it pays a respectful, touching, and heart-felt homage to the tragic passing of Paul Walker, the closing out of the character, and solid expression of the love they all had for him and it was a classy film moment that should be forgotten.
1. The Fast and the Furious (2001)
Sometimes it really does not get any better than the first. Despite all the outrageous action of the other films, this first one is still my all-time favorite. It was a simple, grounded story-line that introduced the world to street-racing (however good or bad that may have been being a debate for another time). But like I said, regardless of the simplicity of this film ,the originality of it still holds up today.
It was a more intimate plot, that kept it in the streets of LA and focused on character dynamics and despite some of the cheesy dialogue, it was cheesy in all the great ways. This film is always great to go back and watch to see things from simpler times, with realistic character dynamics, and for being able to go back and see the evolution of Toretto and O’Connor’s characters, making this my favorite film in the franchise.
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