If you follow our Twitter, you know I (RDT) recently completed an epic rewatch of the Fast & Furious franchise. You’d think it was because I needed a refresher before The Fate of the Furious was released. But, in actuality, a coworker and I were scheduled to debate the best film in the series. In front of our whole office. For real. I wore a tie and jacket!
Anyway, he was Tokyo Drift. (No, really.) My choice, as well as the results of the debate, will be revealed below. To prepare, I felt it worth revisiting them all, though this time in chronological order.
So, without further ado, and with a little help via Flickchart, let’s get to it, starting at the bottom.
2 Fast, 2 Furious
Because when you can’t get Vin Diesel, you get Tyrese, amirite? After The Fast and The Furious was a surprise hit, Universal immediately put a sequel into development. But Vin Diesel
doesn’t didn’t do sequels. Hoping to change his mind, but still hedging their bets, two scripts were written. One with and one without Dominic Toretto. Obviously, Vin passed (wisely), and we got Roman Pearce (sigh….). I give them a little (very little) credit for not just emulating Toretto with another stoic gearhead. But I’m still not sure Tyrese was the way to go. All in all, this movie is terrible, pretty much unwatchable. Uninteresting leads, comically over-the-top villain and just boring car stuff.
The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift
Third in the series (though sixth-ish in the timeline), this attempt at a franchise reboot was, in a word, unsuccessful. Critical failure and box office disappointment, it nearly killed the series. Admittedly, this movie is well directed (director Justin Lin would go on to helm three more movies in the franchise). The car stuff is pretty good. And we get our first look at Han, a beloved, integral character carried through the next four movies. Unfortunately, despite all that, in the end, it’s really no more than a poor man’s Karate Kid with cars.
Fast and Furious
The original crew is back together, this time without the “the’s”! Brian, Dom, Mia and Letty (oh, not so fast, Letty) return to….fight…..Mexican drug lords…..I think? This movie is watchable. It’s nice to see everyone together again, and there’s some great Brian/Dom moments. But, at the end of the day, it’s pretty forgettable. So much so that I’m not 100% sure that gif is from this movie.
The Fate of the Furious
The most recent release, just a few weeks ago, and the first to go into production since Paul Walker’s death, #F8 might be too much of a “good” thing. The dialogue is atrocious, the action ridiculous, the plot contrived, but still, I enjoyed the hell out of it. I
may will see it again. Why rate it so low? Honestly, I just like the other ones more. The Hobbs solo and Hobbs/Shaw stuff is pretty great, though. Oh and Helen Mirren is in it. Helen Mirren!!! God damn, I love these movies (except 2, and most of 3).
The Fast and the Furious
Ahh, original flavor. It’s a franchise that currently deals in international hackers and Russian subs, but started with street racers highjacking semi-trucks for DVD players. Point Break ripoff that it is, you can’t deny the sheer watchability of it. It’s not a great movie. It may not even be a good movie. But it’s enjoyable as hell and these leads fucking exude chemistry. I watch this and understand why 4 revitalized the franchise. I just like these characters. But where’s Leon?
Fast & Furious 6
I have to be honest, right up until the epic rewatch, I considered 6 just as forgettable as 4, maybe more so. Sure, it’s a little soap-y (I’m looking at you, amnesiac Letty), the villain doesn’t quite standout (Owen “The Lesser” Shaw), and the plot is inconsequential. But I don’t care. This is prime Hobbs, covered in sweat (even at night), dropping dialogue the likes of which I want engraved on my tombstone (“They hit like thunder and disappear like smoke.”). Plus, they take on, and defeat, a tank. A TANK! And that’s not even the final action sequence. This one, even more so than Five, establishes what this franchise will be going forward (street racers who are now top secret government agents because why not?).
Look, you can’t talk about this movie and not mention the elephant in the room: Paul Walker’s tragic, and ironic, death in a high speed car accident. He had only finished about 50% of his scenes when it happened. Like others, I wonder what this movie would have been had he survived. I heard a rumor that Kurt Russell’s character, Mr. Nobody, would’ve been revealed as Brian’s father. **shrugs** But that’s neither here nor there. Death aside. Creepy CGI Brian aside. Obvious rewrites aside. I try to take this movie at face value. And at face value, it’s a hell of a good time. Y’all, in this one, cars (practically) fly and we (finally) get a kickass villain in Jason “The Stath” Statham’s Deckard Shaw.
Here you have it, the end of our journey together. Fast Five, the best in the Fast & Furious franchise. If 6 showed us what this franchise would be then Five opened the door to show us what it could be. This is the one that proved this franchise is more than just racing cars (#family). Hell, there’s a street race in it and it happens off screen. All of your favorites are back, oh and Tyrese, too (sigh…). Hiding out in Brazil, Dom and Brian put a team together to take down, and steal from, a Brazilian drug kingpin, all while trying to stay one step ahead of Luke Hobbs, the DSS agent hunting them down. (Apparently, the DSS is a real thing. Who knew?) One part Ocean’s 11, one part Fugitive, and one part, well, fast cars (but not just fast cars), put them together and you’ve got, unbelievably so, a truly great movie.
That’s it. A definitive ranking of the Fast & Furious franchise.
I lost the debate, by the way. Everyone pretty much agreed mine was the better movie. But my opponent blew me out of the water with his presentation skills. His argument was that, in addition to the introduction of Han and director Justin Lin, Tokyo Drift is the purest of the franchise. It is the one that is solely about street racing and nothing else. So while Five may be the better action movie, Tokyo Drift is the better Fast & Furious movie. A flawed, but well presented, argument.
Ride or Die.
From Culver City,