Like it or not, film goers just can’t seem to get enough of the Fast & Furious franchise. From its humble beginnings as a street racing breakout, the franchise has gone on to become one of Hollywood’s most lucrative action franchises. Of course with seven outings a heap of story’s running throughout, there’s bound to be up’s and down’s on the road. Here I’ve decided to rank the franchises outings from worst to best.
7. Tokyo Drift (2006)
Tokyo Drift is what happens when a franchise is struggling for direction. With two successful outings under its belt, Tokyo Drift attempted to take the franchise in a new, neon lit direction. The film we get from this a car crash of different ideas that never really come together and form an entertaining mass.
That isn’t to say it’s a terrible movie. It’s the first flick to be helmed by Justin Lin (The man who would go on to make the franchise such a powerhouse) and features some of the best CGI work in the franchise. Alas, that isn’t enough to cover the movies terribly thin plot and insanely bland cast of stand ins (Keep an eye out for the ‘blink and you’ll miss it’ cameo of Vin Diesel).
Honestly, if you fancy skipping this one entirely – you wouldn’t be missing much.
6. Fast & Furious (2009)
The series reboot throws a mountain of grit into proceedings and brings back the original cast to boot. On paper it’s perfectly serviceable but the delivery leaves some huge questions hanging throughout.
The films big issue is that it’s trapped between two different worlds. On the one hand, it feels obliged to cater to the mindless car racing fanatics that enjoyed the earlier film while simultaneously trying to ramp up the emotional stakes. The balance is some way off though, and we get a film that feels more laborious than enjoyable.
But without this film, we wouldn’t have the greatness that follows. So for that, we should be thankful….
5. 2 Fast 2 Furious (2003)
Paul Walker’s promotion to sole lead didn’t do much to cover for this films lack of ambition in the plot department. Picking up some time after the original, the film see’s Brian O’Connor trying to infiltrate a drug baron’s operations so he can get his criminal record erased.
On the one hand, the film commits to its insanely silly premise with amusing abandon. New and fun characters are thrown into the mix, while the movie never loses sight of the fact that it’s a big dumb car flick. On the other hand, the supporting cast in this movie is so forgettable and tedious that you’ll struggle to care. The races aren’t that great (at least not compared to the original) and the dialogue feels like it was written by two people who’ve never been within 10 yards of a car.
The entire thing has an air of “failed TV pilot” about it but if you can overlook the naff bits – there’s a lot to enjoy here.
4. The Fast and the Furious (2001)
The original and arguably the most balanced of the early films. While its immediate sequels would struggle to figure out what they wanted to be, this outing commits wholly to the street racing vibe that popular at the time.
It’s a world of CGI nitrous effects, hilariously bad event names (Car Wars anyone?) and a plot so creaking that you hear it tripping over all the clichés. It’s also got some of the worst acting in the whole franchise, like everyone was waiting for the real filming to begin.
But hey, it’s a good laugh and delivers mindless fun by the barrel load. The cast of (admittedly one-dimensional) characters play their part and help to raise the stakes accordingly. Vin Diesel’s the big draw here, but him and Paul Walker light up the screen with some surprising chemistry that steals the show.
3. Furious 7 (2015)
After the incredible two outings before it, there’s little wonder that Furious 7 struggles to hit the same heights. Not that it’s a bad film in any reality (and is, at the time writing, the biggest box office draw in the entire franchise)
Everything gets upped to insane degrees. The stakes, the love triangles, the commitment to family, jumping between goddamn skyscrapers. Furious 7 is nothing if not ambitious in its direction and scope and thanks to a budget bigger than anything in the franchise before it – audiences have a lot of silly to enjoy.
It also helps that Dwayne Johnson was killing it at this stage, Every time him and Vin Diesel share screen time, it feels like movie magic happening right in front of your eyes. Like the two were destined to carry this franchise.
But of course, Furious 7 also features one of the more touching moments in the series. The last 15 minutes of the flick play out in touching tribute to Paul Walker, who’s given a lovely sendoff and ends the movie rounding back on that family film. Say what you want about how dumb the franchise is, it’s true to its message about family and connections.
2. Furious Six (2013)
Furious Six takes everything that made the previous outing such a critical darling and throws more of it at the audience.
The stuntwork throughout is second to none while the stakes are steadily raised throughout. The franchise is fully aware of just how silly it is and plays to the with glee (Vin Diesel catching Letti mid-air and landing on a car without a single scratch is the height of hilarity).
The twist this time is that Diesel and his crew are working to take down a group of professional crooks, using fast cars as getaway vehicles. We also get to see Johnson working alongside our heroes this time, leading to a shift in dynamic that ultimately works to the films benefit.
Could the ending have been better? Possibly, that runway was long. But this is a hugely enjoyable films and one of the more engaging outings.
1. Fast Five (2011)
Let’s be fair, Fast Five had no business being as fun as it ended up being. The franchises transformation from racing flick to car-action crusher was complete, and for fans it was the ultimate thrill ride.
Let’s make it clear, this film would never win any high brow awards – but that’s entirely the point. It’s a movie that plays to its strengths, doubles down on the theme of family and raises the stakes without concern for the consequences. The introduction of Dwayne Johnson only adds to this, creating a hugely enjoyable spectacle that goes above and beyond in investing the audience. The majority of the stunts were done without CGI, lending the movie a huge air of excitement.
Fast Five is easily one of the better action films to arrive in the last decade – a unique tour-de-force that goes well beyond what you’d expect from a movie involving cards.