From being about street racing to heists to government espionage, the Fast and Franchise has come a long way which has seen the franchise grow bigger on the big screen and at the box office over its sixteen year existence that has made over $3.8bn worldwide. With the Fast & Furious 8 (aka The Fate of the Furious) being released worldwide this week, I’ve decided to rank the previous seven films in the franchise from worst to best. It’s no secret that this will be my personal preference and may obviously look different to your own list and views on the films as a whole.
7. 2 Fast 2 Furious (2003)
No longer an LAPD officer, Brian O’Conner is racing on the streets of Miami until one day he’s caught by US Customs Service Agents. He’s given a deal by his former boss, FBI Agent Bilkins and Customs Agent Markham to bring down drug lord Carter Verone in exchange to clean his criminal record. O’Conner teams up with his ex-con friend Roman Pearce and works along with U.S Customs Service Agent Monic Fuentes to bring down Verone. Not going to lie, even though this introduces Tyrese’s Roman and Ludacris’ Tej to the franchise, I simply just don’t enjoy this film at all. Unfortunately Paul Walker is the only one to return from the original and while the film focuses on the street races, alot, so much so that the story takes a backseat. Even at that, the main story itself just wasn’t that interesting for me and unfortunately, bar the exception of a rat and a bucket in a nightclub, Cole Hauser’s Verone ain’t that intimidating or villainous. Even the scenes of the racing, particularly that in the films opening, just looks incredibly dated now especially when they hit the NOS. At leas the bromance between O’Conner and Pearce takes the meaning of bromance to a whole other level.
6. Fast & Furious (2009)
Five years have passed since the events of the first film, where we find Dom and his girlfriend Letty have settled in that time at the Dominican Republic. Suspecting police are on their trail, Dom forces his current crew to disband and go their separate ways, even leaving Letty behind to protect her. Months pass and Dom, now in Panama City, gets a call from Mia telling him that Letty has been murder. Dom returns to Los Angles looking for revenge whilst leads him to come into contact with Brian O’Conner who is an FBI Agent once again. While it’s nice to see the original core cast coming back together, I will say that Fast & Furious was somewhat of a disappointment. The film focuses on a dark, gritty, revenge angle that I wasn’t really invested in and the final act chase sequence in the underground tunnel is just far too cartoonish for my liking. I didn’t care about the villain either in Braga but for me, the villains in the franchise up until recently have been the weakest elements of the films. Fast & Furious also introduces Gal Gadot’s Gisele to the franchise.
5. The Fast & The Furious: Tokyo Drift (2006)
The Fast and The Furious: Tokyo Drift takes the franchise out of the United States to Tokyo, Japan following teenager Sean Boswell as to avoid time in prison, he’s sent to Tokyo to live with his father who is in the military. On his arrival he makes a new friend in Twinkie and discovers a new and dangerous way of street racing on the streets of Tokyo. Often by some referred to the weak link the franchise, even so far as the one that ‘should be skipped’, I’ll come out of the woodwork and say that I actually liked Tokyo Drift. Granted I can understand why some people hated it due to the fact that the studio tried something different without the original cast or even the cast of the sequel, but for me with the time that has passed I would recommend that those that didn’t like it to give it another go now. For one the film actually has the best use of street racing in the franchise, thanks to Justin Lin, using professional drivers for the drifting sequences rather than relying on CGI. It also educates the audience on the origins of drifting and include the actual Drift King of Japan, Keiichi Tsuchiya, in the film. Also it introduces audiences to the coolest man in the franchise, Han. I also think this, for me anyways, has the best soundtrack out of the franchise and I have to tip the hat off to cinematographer Stephen F. Windon. With all that send and done, I completely understand that buying Lucas Black as a teenager is hard to shake off and I didn’t like his character at all, pretty much didn’t like the majority of the characters at all, the story is pretty generic but at least the story is cohesive and decently paced. The film also features a cameo from Vin Diesel, who agreed to it in the film in exchange for Universal’s ownership to rights of the Riddick series and character and oddly enough it help forged this expanding universe of the Fast & Furious franchise that would eventually come full circle in Furious 7.
4. The Fast & The Furious (2001)
Back to where it all began sixteen years ago when we just considered the original to be a Point Break remake with cars. The film focuses on LAPD officer Brian O’Conner going undercover to infiltrate the L.A street racing scene to find out whose responsible for the recent hijackings of semi-trailer trucks and stealing the electronics loaded in them. There he comes into the radar of well-known street racer, Dominic Toretto. If you were to watch this film after you grew up on the current three instalments (five onwards) then this will appear to be a grounded, boring in comparison to its sequels as it focuses on Brian attempting to keep his cover and often having to talk his way out of being caught out and, surprise, actual street racing rather than heists and even more ridiculous exploits. It’s a well directed film from Rob Cohen which focuses more on the characters and how they work together as a unit and also adding the romance sub-plot of Brian and Mia and where it all began, tuna sandwich (no crust). It would be the film that would make Vin Diesel and Paul Walker bigger names in the film world and while the script is pretty weak, the car sequences are well done and back in its day, the film was a greats escapism from the usual genre films released in 2001.
3. Furious 7 (2015)
Following up from the events of London and the Spanish NATO base in Fast & Furious 6, the gang are being hunted down by Owen Shaw’s brother, Deckard Shaw, who is out for revenge after what they did to his brother and claims his first victim in Han (finally that Tokyo Drift scene brings the timeline forward to the….present?), so who will be next on his list? With Justin Lin stepping down after directing the last four films in the franchise, I thought James Wan done a really good job with the action sequences here after working in the horror genre for most of his career (Death Sentence being an exception) beforehand. The set-pieces attempt to outdo that plane/runway sequence in Fast & Furious 6 on the ridiculous scale and the one in the final act may just match it. Jason Statham is fine as the villain, who’s given an air of menace to his character in the first act and then proceeds to appear randomly when required to provide threat to the group but it’s not as good as Luke Evans villainous turn on repeated viewing. I thought the handling of Paul Walker’s character Brian O’Conner in the end was handled as well as anyone could’ve possibly imagined and the final five minutes provided many tears whenever I seen the film a few times during its cinematic run.
2. Fast & Furious 6 (2013)
After the Rio heist with the group going their separate ways, Dom is tracked down by Hobbs with a mission – help him capture former British SAS Major and special ops soldier Owen Shaw and the group gain amnesty, allowing them to return to the United States. Not only that, but Hobbs persuades Dom even moreso to help out by showing him a photo of supposedly dead Letty Ortiz, alive and well. The last entry from Justin Lin in the franchise (so far?) and with its final act, it can definitely be argued as the most memorable with the longest runway sequence in the film history (could be exaggerating as I never looked accurately into that). For me Luke Evans has been the most memorable villain in the Fast & Furious franchise as Owen Shaw and always appears to be one step ahead of the group as they try to bring him down. The secondary focus is of course Dom and Letty arc, with Letty suffering from amnesia (as if the Fast & Furious wasn’t soap opera-ish enough with the multiple lines about family). The film somewhat stalls in the middle to focus on this story as well as throw in one street race for good measure, the action sequences in the first and final acts make it all worthwhile.
1. Fast Five (2011)
The one to rule them all which sees characters from the previous four instalments coming together for Fast Five. With Brian O’Conner now on the opposite side of the law, partnering with ex-con Dom Toretto after braking him out of custody alongside his sister Mia Toretto. After eluding the authorities across many borders, they end up down in Rio de Janeiro where they assemble an elite team of racers they previously worked with to pull off one last job in order to gain their freedom. Problem is not only what the job entails, but they’re being hunted down by an elite strike team led by federal agent Luke Hobbs, who never misses his target. While it helps that the film focuses on one objective, which is the heist, it also helps that the franchise was given a massive boost by including Dwayne Johnson aka The Rock aka Franchise Viagra (it’s still a thing, that nickname can never die) into the fold and thankfully has remained ever since. The setup and the character interactions are solid, but the films final act is just absolutely entertaining. Bringing back familiar characters from the sequels to form with the original core cast was a great thing as it puts emphasis further to the central theme that has carried this franchise for as long as it has, family.
So that’s my personal ranking of the Fast & Furious franchise. What is your favourite Fast & Furious film? Answer in the poll below.