Ranking all eight Fast & Furious movies from worst to best
In case you didn't know, the eighth movie in the Fast & Furious franchise is in cinemas now, and is currently on track to one of - if not THE - biggest box office opening weekends of all time.
The seventh movie made over a billion dollars at the box office, and there's already two more of these in the pipeline, if Vin Diesel's Instagram account can be trusted, which of course it can.
So while we wait on Part 9 (rumoured to be set in Greece) and Part 10 (which can really only be set in space at this point), here's what we thought of the Fast & Furious league to date, and how the newest entry fits in.
So here we go, from worst to best. Nobody can argue with this list (cough, cough)
The Fast & The Furious: Tokyo Drift
No Paul Walker. No Vin Diesel (mostly). Nobody we even liked from the first two movies. Instead we had Lucas Black (who?) and Bow Wow (remember him?), who just weren't up to it. But while this movie truly is the Daniel Baldwin to the rest of the more known Baldwins, there were some good additions that can't go unmentioned.
First of all, this was where director Justin Lin got involved, he would remain behind the wheel right through the Fast & Furious 6 and he's responsible for making the series what it is today. Another thing to note is that it introduced us to Han (Sung Kang), one of the best characters of the franchise.
Even killing him off couldn't keep him away, and thankfully they never mention his full name again: Han Seoul-Oh. Ugh.
2 Fast 2 Furious
Vin Diesel didn't come back for the first sequel because he went off to make xXx instead (which actually made more money at the box office than 2 Fast 2 Furious).
Paul Walker hung around and was paired up with Tyrese. Their chemistry just wasn't the same. Don't know what we mean? Well, the rest of the internet does.
We'd be all for it if that was intentional, but we really don't feel that it was. Anyways, this really felt like a quick 'n' cheap sequel, and in any other universe, the franchise would've died right here.
The plot was a mess involving under cover agents and Argentinian drug lords, but it did give us Ludacris. It also featured Eva Mendes, who really should've been folded back into the story by now.
Fast & Furious
This was the point where both the time-line and the titles get messed up.
Chronologically, you should watch them as follows: 1, 2, 4, 5, 6, 3, 7, 8. You'll notice that Han is alive and well and part of Vin Diesel's crew, despite being very much dead in the last one. That's because everything from Fast & Furious up to the beginning of Furious 7 takes place before Tokyo Drift. Vin Diesel even wrote, co-produced and directed a 20-minute short that fills in the gaps, which you can check out in all of it's underappreciated glory right here.
Fast & Furious was also the point where the franchise simultaneously got much bigger, and much sillier, without properly nailing either aspect just yet. The opening petrol tanker heist was a tasty prelude to the kind of OTT set-pieces we could come to expect from the future sequels. Killing off Michelle Rodriguez was a nice plot surprise but her eventual resurrection (which she also managed to do in the Resident Evil series, FYI) was pure soap opera.
Fast & Furious 8
This is the new one, so if you haven't seen it yet, stop reading this now and skip on down to the next entry, because there's gonna be SPOILERS. Still here? Okay, on we go...
Fast & Furious 8 is essentially what happens when you've got $250 million to make a Days Of Our Lives script. Playing along with 'Cliched Soap-Opera Plot-Line Bingo', you can now check off Surprise Baby and Good Guy Goes Bad (But Not Really).
There is a big Paul Walker shaped hole here that can't be filled by just anyone, and the action sequences now include a submarine and a massive auto-pilot pile-up in Manhattan that somehow mixes in elements of Die Hard 4.0, World War Z and video-game Watchdogs.
That being said, the chemistry between The Rock and Jason Statham is undeniable, Charlize Theron is having a ball chewing scenery as a villain who wants to cause World War III because [insert plausible reason here], and some of the some of the smaller set-pieces feature some fantastic choreography.
This being said, it might also be the first time that Fast & Furious has actually gotten too big for it's own good.
The Fast & The Furious
Which brings us nicely on to how it all began. Remember when it was just about an undercover cop who was infiltrating a street car ring that was organised by a guy who was selling stolen DVD players, but then the cop goes all Point Break in-love with the bad guy and let's him get away?
That all seems so quaint now.
Looking at Fast & Furious 8 and comparing it to the original is like saying Hot Fuzz is a direct sequel to Shaun Of The Dead - yes, the actors are all the same, but everything else is different. How exactly did we get here?
The small scale relative innocence of the 2001 original - for which we can probably solely thank/blame for MTV's show Pimp My Ride - was made for a scant $38 million.
Fast & Furious 8 cost $250 million, before advertising and promotion. But really what matters is the will-they-won't-they bromance between Walker and Diesel, a bond that would keep the franchise running for the next 15 years.
Fast & Furious 6
Another check on your 'Cliched Soap Opera Bingo' score-card, a previously dead character is totally alive (check), but now has amnesia (CHECK). Michelle Rodriguez is back, but with apparently no real desire to find out who she was before she woke up in the hospital, falls in love with bad-guy Luke Evans, who uses street-races in order to start World War III because [insert plausible reason here].
Diesel and co. are on rich-people retirement (i.e., living the life of luxury in their late 30's), before The Rock is all "Hey guys, your bestie is alive, and she's with this bad guy. Team up?" This would be a bit of a routine for the series, with a previous bad-guy coming back to join the good-guys in the next movie. We fully expect Charlize Theron to be helping their cars with their orbital re-entry in The Fast & The Fur10us (p.s. Dear Universal, please use that stylizing for the final movie).
After Fast Five, the series found a new wind and ran with it, so the stunts were bigger ("Uhm, guys, they've got a tank!"), the chemistry was better, and The Rock and Vin Diesel teaming up to beat up bad guys on a slowly exploding airplane on the world's longest runway is the most Fast & Furious thing that has ever happened.
Actually, no, the most Fast & Furious thing that has ever happened is when Vin Diesel fixes Michelle Rodriguez's amnesia with a street race. Because of course he does.
If you didn't cry at the end of this movie you're a liar and a robot and you can't be friends with us. Saying goodbye to Paul Walker after all these years was painful, but somehow the makers of this movie managed to do it in the most heartfelt way imaginable. Even thinking about it now has got us welling up a little bit.
Outside of that, we've finally got the team all back together, but then Jason Statham has arrived and he is pissed, so goes on a bit of a killing spree, murdering Han (tying up a four movie old plot-hole), and shooting missiles at cars as they fly between skyscrapers.
The Rock is MIA for a lot of it, until he flexes his arm so hard that he busts out of his cast, picks up a machine gun and shoots at a drone in downtown L.A., so he makes up for lost time in a hurry during the climax. Meanwhile we've got Michelle Rodriguez fighting Ronda Rousey, Djimon Hounsou using a weapon to start World War III because [insert plausible reason here], and the team air-dropping in Azerbaijan in their cars which is a totally sensible decision made by Kurt Russell who has hired these former DVD player salesmen to take down international terrorists.
This is why the Fast & Furious movies are amazing.
What do you when you need your action movie franchise to be better? You put in The Rock. There is no other action star in the world with the same combination of physical presence and pure charisma that can match Dwayne Johnson, and putting him toe-to-toe with Vin Diesel was obviously one of pure artistic genius.
Elsewhere, the action sequences are big-without-being-too-big, with the car jumps from the train, the foot chase through the Brazilian favelas, that massive missile shoot-out, and the big finale of dragging a bank vault through the streets of Rio.
Every stunt felt crunchy in its realism, before the submarines and zombie cars and CGI became centre stage, and the sense of family was well earned and enjoyed without being too cheesy. Legitimately, Fast Five is one of the best action movies of the last decade, and anyone who says otherwise is just plain wrong.