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Thursday
Apr132017

The Fast and I'm Furious: Ranking every film in the franchise

by Spencer Coile 

Dating back to 2001 with the premiere of The Fast and the Furious, the Furious franchise has become something of a centerpiece of the action genre. Watching the shenanigans of Paul Walker, Vin Diesel, and company across the span of seven films in sixteen years is quite the rollercoaster ride of quality. Ranging from the good, the bad, and the ugly, it is especially interesting to note the progression of the film series; they initially started as mindless entertainement to... well, even more mindless entertainment, but with some awe-inspiring action sequences with a blatant theme of family and togetherness. Even after the death of Paul Walker, the franchise continues. 

In preparation for the latest foray into the canon, the eigth film (they aren't all numbered) The Fate of the Furious, I decided to sit down with each of the seven preceding movies and evaluate each on their own merits, but also how they function in the series as a whole. I'd seen a whopping zero of them before this marathon! How many have you seen?

Ranking the Fast and the Furious Franchise...

07. 2 Fast 2 Furious (2003) 
[Second film in franchise]

Without Vin Diesel's Dominic Toretto to work off of Paul Walker's Brian, what we are left with is a generic story that tries to use Tyrese Gibson as a surrogate co-pilot. Everything is serviceable only. Even adding Eva Mendes to the principle cast adds very little. 

06. Fast and Furious (2009)
[Fourth film in the franchise] 

After a brief detour with Tokyo Drift, we are back in the front seat with the regular cast That's the good news. The bad news is that it would appear everyone involved was sleepwalking (sleep driving? That's dangerous). The story is mostly forgettable and only serves as a primer for the fifth. 

05. The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift (2006)
[Third film in franchise] 

I initially had this novelty last. The story has nothing to do with anything going on in the previous two films... only until it does have everything to do with it. With Lucas Black replacing Paul Walker as the resident white guy being displaced in Tokyo and paper-thin characters, it might be easy to scoff at this effort. That said, the set pieces and action scenes are weirdly beguiling, to the point where you can't look away. 

04. The Fast and the Furious (2001)
[First film in franchise] 

Ah yes, the one that started it all. In a sense, it created a entire universe built on street racing, bald heads, and sexy brunettes. In that way, this film deserves major respect. In retrospect, though, it's a little lifeless in comparison to what follows. There is little humor, no real depth, and we are only scratching the surface of the theme of family that this series builds. Surely watch it, but just know that it gets better once they've revved up. 

03. Fast and Furious 6 (2013)
[Sixth film in the franchise] 

Let's be real: after Fast Five, there was no way that Fast and Furious 6 could sustain the critical momentum. The sixth film in the franchise leaned heavily into the carried over family theme. With the return of Michelle Rodriguez's Letty and featuring a climactic action sequence that takes place on the longest airplane runway in cinematic history, it certainly was no easy feat to continue at the same trajectory. 

02. Furious 7 (2015)
[Seventh film in the franchise] 

Unsurprisingly, Furious 7 has been the most financially successful of the entire series. Considering the increase in quality for the fifth and sixth films, not to mention the untimely death of Paul Walker, fans flocked to theaters to see if the latest venture was a worthy addition to the "family." It was. With arguably some of the best action sequences in years (I mean, really, when have you ever seen a car purposefully fly through three different skyscrapers to escape enemies?) and adding members such as Kurt Russell and Jason Statham into the mix, the seventh outing of the series proved that sometimes, bigger can be better. 

01. Fast Five (2011)
[Fifth film in the franchise] 

Something magical happened with Fast Five. The four films that came before it were uneven, severely lacking in character development, and relatively plotless -- all the while, still being quite watchable. It is here, though, that the Furious Franchise became what it is now. Bringing back all of the primary characters of the previous films was a stroke of genius, and then assembling this ragtag group and identifying them as a family also gave the series purpose. Before, we were left with a motley street crew attempting to outsmart the law and steal cars. But as Fast Five demonstrates-- sometimes you need to raise the stakes and watch the characters scramble. And it really was a thing of beauty. From the set pieces to the action sequences to the cars themselves, everything is amped up. It's no wonder that this was the film that began generating the most buzz for the series, leading many to finally ask, "Wait. Is the Fast and the Furious franchise actually good?" Yes. Yes, it is. 

To better equip yourselves for the eighth race, The Fate of the Furious, I wholeheartedly recommend the most recent three, followed closely by the first. If you are a completist, watch all seven (hence, my marathon)! The franchise is by no means perfect. The characters remain relatively one-dimensional and the dialoque can be clunky. But it has produced some of the most spectacular action sequences in recent years and used its theme of "family" effectively-- all while making billions and car fans of us all.

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Reader Comments (14)

I've seen a few of these but they all start to blend into each other with each successive instalment. Was Fast Five the one that had the car dragging the bank vault through the streets while being chased by law enforcement? That one was the best I've seen.

April 13, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterMDA

I have only seen the very first one. I've heard that about Fast Five (that it's the best) but never got around to watching it. Nearly watched the last one because of its billion dollar gross and was like "how did that happen to *this* franchise?" since it seemed so B movie (the first one)

April 13, 2017 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

These films are my husband's guilty pleasure. I never know which one I'm watching, but I can dip in and out while he's watching them, and I do quite enjoy the mindless nonsense.

April 13, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterJB

I think I've seen all of them and enjoy the films, but I can't distinguish between 4, 5, and 6. I can't even remember if I really have seen the second film. Still, I'm planning to see the newest film.

April 13, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterRaul

I agree that the series is a guilty pleasure. I wouldn't say any of the films are GOOD per se, but I enjoy my time with them.

The part I disagree with (and I know I am very much a lone voice here) is that FAST FIVE is the best. I rank it as the worst. Every movie in the franchise requires a suspension of disbelief, and I am happy to do so, but the chase through the streets dragging the large bank safe just insults all basic laws of physics so much that I just couldn't do it this time. And it then finished with the most predictable twist in a long time (so predictable, I predicted it BEFORE I saw the movie).

April 13, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterTravis C

Are these really different movies?

April 13, 2017 | Unregistered Commenterbrookesboy

Fast Five was the film that won me over as I was like.... "this is good" and then after that stunt w/ the car driving out of the train. I was like "what the fuck?" and then it became a film I ended up enjoying and re-watching over and over again. After that, the series became fun.

April 13, 2017 | Unregistered Commenterthevoid99

I liked the one with the car chase scene.

April 13, 2017 | Unregistered Commenterforever1267

They're all shit minus the first one :)

April 13, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterBhuray

Though "Tokyo Drift" is not a favorite of fans/critics,
I actually really liked it & is one of my fave of the series. Plan to see the newest one.

April 13, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterDian

forever1267 -- funny

April 13, 2017 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

My brain is better than this franchise.

April 13, 2017 | Unregistered Commenter/3rtful

The series only gets better the more it ups the ante and the fun. It's got this wonderful macho glee in such a positive way. It's having the most fun and you can't help but smile.

Just watched "Fate of the Furious" and is a contender for best of the franchise, though "Fast Five" still might hold that honor. It's the wild fun ride "Die Another Day" wished it could be. Look out for not one, but two Best Actress winners.

Also, and most importantly, Jason Statham shows us once again, post-Spy, how he is the funniest person and deserves a big screen comedy stat.

April 14, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterChris James

I saw the first one and passed on the rest, no matter how critically acclaimed Fast Five was... speeding cars mixed with testosterone are not my cup of tea, unless Will Ferrell and Sacha Baron Cohen (and friends) have fun with them (I LOVE Talladega Nights).

April 14, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterJesus Alonso

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