“Franchise Retrospective: Fast and Furious”

The Fast and Furious franchise was never supposed to take off the way that it did. At first, it was an homage to Point Break. The first film tied up nicely and really didn’t set up for any sequels. Fast forward 16 years later and we have arrived at the 8th installment. I’ll rank the previous seven below and give my brief thoughts on each.

7. Tokyo Drift

It’s safe to assume this will be at the bottom of most lifts. It’s a very watered down version of the two previous films. The performances were lack luster and don’t give you anything worthwhile. You just don’t care about any of these characters. It isn’t until the post credits scene in Fast 6 that this film is even acknowledged, and even at that point it doesn’t make you want to go back and revisit this. It’s not horrible by any means, just forgettable and bland.

6. 2 Fast 2 Furious

Tyrese was introduced in the second film, but Vin Diesel decided to sit this one out. Paul Walker and Tyrese carry the load here and it’s a decent flick for what it is. It was a nice way to intro Tyrese. His character was a childhood friend of O’Conner (Walker) and he decides to help him get out of his troubled life by giving him this job. It’s a crime bust movie before one about big stunts and cars, which makes this lower on the list.

5. Fast and Furious (4th film)

I had trouble deciding whether or not to put the original or the 4th installment here. On nostalgia alone I put the 4th film. Vin Diesel finally returned to the franchise after leaving the series. In retrospect he has to think he wasted a ton of time leaving his niche. The opening scene is grand in scale, and it was good to see the franchise get back to its roots. Some argue that Fast Five brought the franchise back, but this fourth film put the series back on track after a dreadful spin off and Diesel’s previous departure.

4. The Fast and The Furious (Original)

They really should work on these titles. Two movies have the same title with the absence of one pronoun. Anyway, the original film was a big part of my childhood. I used to watch it all the time as a kid. It’s a blast, granted its a bit of a Point Break rip off, but there are some elements that I enjoy. The whole racing culture is explored and it was good to get that insight. They also really set up that family rapport. If nothing else, you get a sense of how much this group loves each other.

3. Fast and Furious 6

The last three installments took this franchise to a new level. Luke Evans was brilliant as the villain, a foe that the group really hasn’t faced before. Of the villains in the franchise he was the most flushed out, as much as a Fast and Furious villain really is. The final airplane sequence was incredible, and most of the fight scenes were solid. A fun watch from start to finish. They played the Letty angle here, which really felt forced and shoehorned into the story, but they wanted to button that up. For me it wasn’t worth going in that direction. It’s a way to rectify them killing her off, but letting that loss weigh on Dom is worth more than him trying to get her to remember everything. It took me out of it.
2. Furious 7

The stunts and action sequences here were all tremendous as usual. James Wan took over in the directors chair after Justin Lin stepped down. He did a very good job. You have to give him credit for how he handled the Paul Walker situation. It was devastating to everyone involved and to fans. The send off was beautiful, one of the most touching things I’ve seen. When For Paul flashes on the screen it’s hard not to shed a tear. It weighed on every viewer, watching the film knowing Walker was no longer with us. Wan handled it with care and put everyone at ease knowing Walker is in a better place.

1. Fast Five

Fast Five is the movie that took this franchise to new heights, and they haven’t looked back. The addition of The Rock definitely helped. He was a formidable foe to take on Vin and his crew. They were pushing each other through walls, it was truly intense. I really loved the heist element here. How that safe was rolling on down the street with Dom using it to take out police cars, like they went all out. Family plays a big part in the franchise and they finally got the whole gang together here. Dom, Brian, Tej, and Roman were finally all together at the same time. A cool moment. From the train scene at the very beginning when Dom and Brian jump off the car into the water down below, to the shoot out in the street, Fast Five is full of heart pounding moments.

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