The Fate of The Furious is coming out this weekend, the eighth entry into the little franchise that could… blow shit up and crash cars like a boss. Early critical returns aren’t too promising, but that doesn’t really matter. The Fast and Furious franchise has grown from a small Point Break cover song into a collage of high-octane, super spy action thriller franchise like no other. So let’s have some fun, I’ll rank them and you tell me if I’m spot on or I’m a complete idiot…
2 Fast 2 Furious
Before the franchise got its sea legs, it went for the quick buck. 2 Fast was a mishmash sequel introducing some new characters while Vin Diesel was busy trying and failing at some other action franchises. But Paul Walker is still there. That’s not enough to keep things afloat in this forgettable dreck. The separation between this and the rest of the films in the series is monumental, and it’s a miracle any other films happened in the wake of this mess.
Fast & Furious
While the fourth entry may have been partly responsible for the resurrection of the franchise, Fast & Furious still isn’t that good. It introduces the Looney Tunes-esque stuntwork and brings Vin Diesel back into the fray. But even the dynamite and super charismatic reunion of Diesel and Paul Walker isn’t enough to give this one any substance at all. Tell me one thing that happened in this one, fast!
The Fast and The Furious: Tokyo Drift
This is where the franchise wanted to try and branch out and bring in new characters. Some of them, like Sung Kong’s Han, were strong enough to carry over into the next films. Others, like Lucas Black’s Sean Boswell, didn’t. Black has been floating around the periphery of the series, given the later tie in. Justin Lin’s first entry gave the series a specific identity, even if everything in this third film didn’t quite come together. Regardless, it still has some terrific racing action.
The Fast and The Furious
The original still holds up. Rob Cohen’s Point Break remix, set in the world of illegal street racing, has all the naive charm and energy of a film that doesn’t know what it’s going to be. It reignited street racing, it dominated the box office, and it made stars out of Walker and Diesel. The only thing holding it back is the antiquated, almost calm action, given what the franchise became in the 2010s.
Fast and Furious 6
This one may have gone a little long. Ok, maybe a lot long. But this was a new thing from the franchise’s earlier days. This was the second film with Dwayne Johnson involved, and the injection of testosterone leaks into every aspect. It also leans into the globetrotting aspect of this new spy unit, as Dom and the crew take on mercenaries. It’s fun and it’s big and loud, but it still isn’t quite the fully formed greatness of the best films.
The last entry before The Fate of The Furious was the wildest one yet, and this eighth entry looks to keep that momentum moving forward. It’s also one of the best. Jason Statham is delightful as a vengeful baddie, and Kurt Russell rolls in as Mr. Nobody. Add to this the unfortunate passing of Paul Walker and the emotional tribute at the end of the film. Furious 7 is the longest in the series, but it doesn’t feel anywhere near as bloated as the sixth entry. It’s easy to say the Fast and Furious franchise falls along the Star Trek rankings roller coaster. Only, in those films, the even numbered ones were better. Here, the odd numbered films dominate.
Dwayne Johnson can resurrect just about any franchise he wants. And Fast Five was his crowning achievement. The inclusion of Johnson here, as Agent Hobbs, gives Diesel a worthy physical adversary. But beyond Johnson’s involvement, Fast Five strikes the perfect balance between absurd action and actual narrative competence. The safe-dragging scene here is one of the best in the entire series, and the Fast and Furious films were never better all the way around.