It is almost time for the next installment in the increasingly bonkers Fast & Furious franchise with the eighth film, Fast And Furious 8, arriving in UK cinemas next week. What began life as a film series about the glamorous and gritty world of illegal street racing, is now a blockbuster behemoth, packed with as many huge stars as it is fast cars.
It is undoubtedly one of the most ludicrously successful action movie franchises of recent years, with each new film seeming hellbent on trying to outdo the previous ones. Which one is the best? Well, fasten your seat-belts, we’re about to find out!
7. Fast & Furious (2009)
The naming conventions of the Furious movies make little to no sense, with this fourth offering rather lazily ditching the “The’s” from the first movie, and quite frankly missing an unforgivable opportunity to call it “Fast & Fourious”. Missed pun title opportunities aside, this film fails to leave a lasting impression despite it being the film which marked Vin Diesel’s very welcome return to the series. Sitting awkwardly between the also ‘not that great’ Tokyo Drift and the amazing Fast Five, Fast & Furious is completely forgettable. Having Brian O’Conner (Paul Walker) in the cop role again doesn’t quite work, and despite some big action scenes, the pacing is off and the film drags as a result.
6. The Fast and The Furious: Tokyo Drift (2006)
It’s a fairly safe bet that this features pretty low down on most people’s rankings and whilst it isn’t completely terrible, it suffers from not having the main characters involved. Han (played by Sung Kang) does become a more important character later in the franchise so it has merit for that reason, but it is also worth noting that in terms of story, it sits somewhere between Fast & Furious 6 and Furious 7, therefore it makes more sense to watch it between 6 & 7 rather than after 2 Fast 2 Furious. The city of Tokyo certainly makes for an awesome backdrop, and the street racing scenes are great, but you’re not going to miss much if you skip this one.
5. 2 Fast 2 Furious (2003)
Easily the most obnoxiously titled film in the series – although The Fate of the Furious gives it a run for its money – this second installment barely feels like it is part of the same franchise. On the plus side we’re introduced to the character of Roman (Tyrese), who becomes one of the most popular characters in later films. On the downside, this film pushes the comic relief too far and its a shock to the system after the overly serious first movie. The story-line isn’t in connected to any of the later films, so it works as a standalone “buddy comedy”, but not much else.
4. The Fast and the Furious (2001)
Back to where it all began, and whilst it looks very tame in comparison to the insanity of everything post-Fast Five, it establishes the relationship of Brian and Dom, and has the best racing scenes, hands down; the race at the end between Brian, Dom and a speeding train is still thrilling to watch. It looks oddly but enjoyably quaint when you compare it to the later films in the series, and whilst the change of direction was needed for the franchise to run for as long as it has, it’s still worth looking back on with fondness.
3. Fast & Furious 6 (2013)
Introducing Dwayne Johnson to the cast in Fast Five pretty much resurrected the entire series and gave it a much needed new lease of life. In this film we see him having to work with the Fast family, much to his disapproval. All of his scenes as the burly Hobbs in Fast & Furious 6 are fantastic, plus it is great to have Michelle Rodriguez back as Dom’s love interest, Letty. The fact she has been turned and doesn’t remember any of her old friends adds an interesting dynamic; something which is seemingly being revisited in the upcoming The Fate of the Furious. Also who can forget the plane climax with the world’s longest runway? Ridiculous, totally brilliant, and just the kind of bonkers set-piece you’d expect from these films now.
2. Fast & Furious 7 (2015)
It is difficult to talk about this film without mentioning the tragic death of Paul Walker which overshadows it, and the director James Wan has to be commended for doing such an amazing job with the little footage he had of Walker. The stunts and action pieces in this film are some of the most ridiculous and over-the-top in any of the Fast films, plus there’s some top quality fight scenes, helped by the addition of Jason Statham to the cast who goes toe to toe with Dwayne Johnson to glorious effect! The ending is incredibly moving, and a beautiful tribute to the late Walker. It was perhaps a wise decision not to kill off the character, but instead coming up with an ending that both makes sense in the context of this film, pays tribute to his contribution to the films, and also means the “family” and the series can carry on without him.
1. Fast Five (2011)
After the dreary Fast & Furious, who could have even imagined that Fast Five would be as insanely brilliant as it is? As far back as 2 Fast 2 Furious, there were hints at the madness to come, but nothing could prepare you for the full-throttle insanity that is Fast Five! The plot isn’t important and the bad guy is pretty forgettable, but this film marked the turning point for the franchise and provided the benchmark for all the ones to follow. It’s the first film where you really get a sense of the “family” dynamic the characters have which is a strong theme that continues from here, and is particularly evident in Furious 7. The scene in which the team steals a safe, and the general chaos which ensues is probably the most memorable scene in all of the films. Fast Five set the bar pretty high for the new direction that this franchise took, and whilst they’ll probably be making these films forever, it is going to take an awful lot to top this!
Fast And Furious 8 is out on 12th April.