Time for a deep dive into the extensive franchise.
When The Fast And The Furious hit cinemas in 2001, nobody could’ve predicted the behemoth it would become. A Point Break rip-off that replaced extreme sports with illegal street racing, the film defied expectations, raking in over $200 million at the box office and turning leads Vin Diesel and Paul Walker into household names.
Spawning seven sequels – all of varying quality – the Fast & Furious series is now a multi-million dollar franchise with no plans to stop anytime soon. With a ninth film announced for 2020 and spin-off Hobbs & Shaw released next week, there’s no better time to sit through all eight Fast & Furious films and rank them from worst to best.
8. The Fate Of The Furious
Bigger isn’t always better. The Fate Of The Furious is bloated, unbelievable and completely over the top, evident from the use of a nuclear submarine as the film’s main set piece. Charlize Theron sleepwalks her way through as cyber-terrorist Cipher and Diesel’s Dom Toretto turning bad is an interesting twist that you don’t really believe. The shining light is the chemistry between The Rock’s Luke Hobbs and Jason Statham’s Deckard Shaw, who bring a buddy cop element to the film that’s been missing since Paul Walker’s untimely passing.
7. The Fast And The Furious: Tokyo Drift
The black sheep of the franchise, Tokyo Drift isn’t as bad as everything thinks. Director Justin Lin creates a thrilling solo story within the Fast & Furious universe that would become pivotal to the overall story arc in future films. It’s the lack of a charismatic lead that hurts, with Lucas Black’s slow Texas drawl and questionable acting talent as off-putting as Bow Wow’s screen presence.
6. 2 Fast 2 Furious
After Diesel opted to make The Chronicles Of Riddick, 2 Fast 2 Furious was rewritten as a vehicle for Walker to strut his stuff. Joined by criminal friend Roman Pearce (charming R&B singer Tyrese Gibson), the two go undercover in Miami’s street racing circuit to take down Cole Hauser’s drug kingpin character. Walker’s charisma far outweighs his acting ability while Gibson’s best scenes are when he’s riffing off another series newcomer, rapper turned actor Ludacris. This is an above par action flick that entertains without excelling.
5. Fast & Furious
Diesel’s return marked a change in direction and reunited the main cast in this popcorn blockbuster. Diesel and Walker, working on different sides of the law, must team up to track down drug baron Arturo Braga (played by a wonderful John Ortiz) and avenge the death of Michelle Rodriguez’s gruff Letty.
The film does a decent job balancing the street racing of early films with the incredible action scenes of future instalments. Director Justin Lin and screenwriter Chris Morgan deliver a solid flick let down by some poor CGI and a weak third act.
4. Fast & Furious 6
Taking the franchise from Brazil to England, Fast & Furious 6 is a foot-to-the-floor action romp depicting Diesel’s ragtag bunch on a quest to takedown mercenary Owen Shaw (Luke Evans). It’s full of big set pieces (the finale on a moving plane is incredible), great fight scenes and surprising deaths (poor Gal Gadot). The flick really hammers home the theme of family, with Diesel trying to help an amnesia-ridden Rodriguez remember who she really is. The real kicker comes during the post-credits scene, when Jason Statham makes his presence felt at the expensive of franchise mainstay Han Seoul-Oh.
3. Furious 7
The last film in the franchise to feature Paul Walker, Furious 7 is an emotional tribute to Walker’s life and the bond of family. It’s also one hell of a ride, featuring Diesel and Statham going mono e mono on a collapsing building, Michelle Rodriguez kicking Ronda Rousey’s butt in an evening gown and the legendary Kurt Russell stealing every scene he’s in as government agent Mr. Nobody. The touching, CGI-fuelled tribute to Paul Walker at the film’s end will have you reaching for the tissues.
2. Fast Five
As far as modern action films go, it doesn’t get much better than this. Fast Five went for broke, drafting in The Rock, heading to Brazil and setting up an epic $100 million heist involving a ridiculous car chase through the streets of Rio de Janeiro. The film revitalised the series and saw the return of earlier characters Vince, Roman, Parker and Han, placing a greater emphasis on the supporting cast. It also features chrome domes Rocky and Diesel beating the shit out of each other. What’s not to love?
1. The Fast And The Furious
The original and still the best, The Fast And The Furious is one of the greatest films of the past two decades and the crown in Rob Cohen’s directing career. What it lacks in over-the-top stunts and high profile cameos it more than makes up for with emotional storytelling, high production values and tightly-written script. Watching Diesel’s reaction to finding out Walker is an undercover cop still gets me, while Jessie’s death is a real tearjerker. Who knew a simple film about street racing would be the catalyst to one of the biggest franchise of the past two decades?