There were grumbles when the trailer for the latest installment in the “Fast and Furious” series, F9: The Fast Saga, was released. The series had become known for notoriously disregarding any sense of logic and physics regarding what a car can or cannot do. The constant addition of characters and twists as narrative Deus ex machina had also left the film’s primary audience numb. Characters seemed to die and return conveniently at the plot’s will. And the scope of the plots for the movies had begun to feel larger than credible—why would anybody in their right mind trust a group of criminal street racers with the fate of the world. So when the trailer for the tenth film in the series was released, it was met with a generally uninterested lull from its audience.
This is forgivable. Inundated for two decades with the same rehashed monologues by Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) about the importance of family and new ways to push the barriers of the audience’s believability, it was understandable that, for a moment, the audience would want to look away from the series. It was even suggested that the series would go away quietly after Paul Walker’s death in 2013. But it is still going strong and, somehow, we always return to “Fast and Furious” for various reasons. Some do it solely for the memory of the late Paul Walker, others return for the blood-pumping, testosterone fueled race scenes in the series, and a final group return for the inevitable fight scenes Vin Diesel gets himself involved. And while we are watching for one specific thing, we can just enjoy the other unsolicited reasons; win win win. In light of all these, the charm that made us fall for the first films in the series are still present, albeit scattered and unfocused. If you are one of those who have become frustrated with the direction of the series and pine for old times, we have curated here, just for you, a power ranking of all the movies (excluding F9: The Fast Saga) in the “Fast and Furious” series.
• Fast and Furious (2009)
Remember the 2009 entry that brought Brian (Paul Walker), Letty (Michelle Rodriguez), Mia (Jordana Brewster), and Dom (Vin Diesel) together to take down the drug kingpin Arturo Braga (John Ortiz)? No? That is understandable. The movie is, in our opinion, the weakest in the series.
Braga hires street racers to smuggle drugs from Mexico and Brian convinces Dom to help him bring down the bad guy. Dom needs little incentive because Braga murders (ahem) Letty, Dom’s love interest. They race and destroy vehicles in labyrinthine tunnels with impressive stunts, but the fixed location for the final race fights, perhaps the constant fluctuation of light, or a combination of both, made the final scenes below par for a “Fast and Furious” movie. However, it had an impressive cliffhanger closing scene, with Dom being transported to prison in a bus, and Brian and Mia apparently preparing to bust him out. Still, this seems to be the weakest entry in the “Fast and Furious” series.
• The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift (2006)
The third installment in the series, Tokyo Drift, came as both a shock entry and a breath of fresh air. The series heads over to Japan from America and introduces the Yakuza and a whole new racing culture. A new lead, Sean Boswell (Lucas Black), is shipped off to his father in Japan for racing misdemeanor. Once there, he finds the racing community and meets Han Lue (Sung Kang), who teaches him the difficult racing technique of drifting. Han is murdered and Sean takes down the Yakuza boss’s nephew, Kamata (Sonny Chiba).
As the title suggests, the drift is the attraction point. The unbelievably vehicular control meandering around neck-break zigzag roads will leave any viewer impressed. The movie surprisingly hits an emotional chord when Han dies. The movie’s strength is also its flaw; beyond Han Lue, it is completely unconnected to the series.
• 2 Fast 2 Furious (2003)
Follow up to the hit entry of the installment, 2 Fast 2 Furious suffers the fate of Hollywood sequels. It fails to hold the viewer as the first installment did. That vibrancy and novelty won’t find their way back into the series until later. But it probably caused the need to make the breakaway Tokyo Drift. However, 2 Fast 2 Furious saw the introduction of the memorable duo, Roman (Tyrese Gibson) and Tej Parker (Chris Bridges “Ludacris”), whose charisma and humour made them become staples in the series.
This entry is a mashup of espionage work involving Brian and Dom to bring down an Argentine drug pusher, Carter Verone (Cole Hauser). Sandwiched between the plot are generally forgettable car chase scenes and races.
• The Fate of the Furious (2017)
At this point, we had all figured out the series’ obsession with the letter “F”, Dom, and a penchant for inexplicable, gravity-defying, impossible stunts. But this one saw the introduction of Charlize Theron as a villain, a welcome departure from the drug-lord villains the series started with. Charlize as Cypher brought ambition to the crew, in the sense that they went from small-time criminal superheroes to full-blown Justice League level badasses. Now they had the responsibility of saving the world.
Look, you know things got really hard when these boys and gals went out after a submarine…on ice…while evading torpedoes…in cars. It is plain preposterous to imagine, but once the series reached this bar, it went all out and never looked back.
• Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw (2019)
When Dwayne Johnson (Hobbs) and Jason Statham (Shaw) pair up in a “Fast and the Furious” movie, there is little doubt about the rightness of that nagging feeling that it just might be an overkill. Thankfully, the brooding, combustible Dom is absent from this equation. Shaw’s MI6 sister, Hattie (Vanessa Shaw), is to be protected by the duo. What follows from start to finish is an array of action scenes falling upon ripostes, sucking any worthwhile emotional resonance out of the film. But by 2019, nobody watched a “Fast and Furious” movie for emotional resonance, so it is safe to say this movie delivered in that respect. Kevin Hart and Ryan Reynolds’ cameo was pretty good as well.
• Fast & Furious 6 (2013)
Dom’s “emotional” return to Letty who was very dead in an earlier installment serves as the focus of this entry. But the real charm is that after a well-needed hiatus, the whole gang comes back together for “one last job”. More deaths occur here and the very aliveness of Letty just takes the punch out of all these deaths. But it’s Fast and Furious. We forget all of that once Dom drives a car out of a plane.
• The Fast and the Furious (2001)
The motherboard of the whole series. The holy grail but not too holy. This is the entry that started off the whole franchise. It is when Brian, an undercover cop, infiltrates a gang of street racers who steal DVDs from moving trucks. Dom is the leader of the gang Brian has infiltrated and we already know how this pans out. Brian falls in love with Mia, Dom’s sister, finds some humanity in Dom, and joins the gang-ish. But it is the humble beginning of the series and it has heart and soul at this point, which serves as its core. This entry reaches emotional resonance with the viewer. In this movie, the high speed races complement the story, and the other way around.
• Fast Five (2011)
The gang head to Rio here right after Dom is busted out of the prison bus (remember?). The gang ambitiously decide to rob a train of vehicles and also steal a whole safe from yet another drug lord (Joaquim de Almeida). What makes this entry so great is that it perfects what it’s been trying to do with drug lords from the start. It sets up a perfect police and thief scenario with Dom and his crew sandwiched in the middle of the whole drama, which they started in the first place. On one end is the elaborate espionage they want to pull off, which sees them assemble the whole crew bar Letty. And on the other end is Hobbs, the first time he would appear in the series. This sets up an absolutely incredible macho fight scene. This entry balances wit, brawn, and physics defying car maneuvers.
• Furious 7 (2015)
The plot lays almost irrelevant because of Paul Walker’s death hung over the film like a wet cloud. The impressive thing here is how fitting a farewell this movie gave Paul Walker’s Brian. And that Charlie Puth chorus as Dom and Brian part ways will always be evergreen.
The plot gist is that there is a God-Eye software that can hack into any surveillance system. It is the now-very-normal worldwide scale threat that Dom’s gang chases after. As always, the car chases are glorious, the races are riveting. It is so well done that for sustained moments, we completely forget that Paul Walker is deceased, not until that closing scene.
With the list collated, where would you insert the latest entry? What would you rate it? An A+ or an F9?
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