[COLUMN UPDATED AS OF 6/29/2021]
I am VERY late to looking at this whole series. I never felt a strong emotional connection to the flicks so I kinda missed about half of them? I am finally catching up and enjoying them though. They are dumb but in a very earnest way that makes them very sweet and easy to watch.
11. The Fate of the Furious
This is a film so bad that it kinda defies reality. Whatever the flaws the seven previous movies had, they never felt in any cynical or phony. The total sincerity of them is a key component of what makes them work. You could list a million reasons why this film fucking sucks, but it does not even deserve that attention. Hopefully, F9 gets things back on track.
10. The Dwayne Vanity Entry
This movie is a key part of the wag the dog situation to get Dwayne away from the Fast movies so they can be good again without reservation. On that level, this is one of the most essential films of the century. On another level, it’s a completely fake movie. The “genocide schmenocide” line was pretty great though. Those two things put it ever so slightly above the rancid 8th installment.
9. Tokyo Drift
Unlike Christopher Nolan, I was not overly fond of this one. I really wanted to be! Tight runtime. Side adventure vibes are cool. It was just kind of nothing besides Han being one charming motherfucker. The Vin Diesel scene at the end was very fucking cool though!
8. 2 Fast 2 Furious
There’s a real low-stakes charm to this one, especially in retrospect. At the time, it felt too forced and unnecessary and awkward with all the new characters. Almost twenty years later though it just sort of feels like a fun side adventure. Tyrese really brought a necessary silliness to the franchise.
7. The Fast and the Furious
Everyone likes to talk about how this film that started all the madness was about stolen digital cameras and DVD players. While this is true, the opening shot featured 2-in-1 TV/VCRs. People forget about this.
6. Fast & Furious
Besides being a slick and easy-to-watch action film, this entry is legit so impressive at its ability to simultaneously be a reboot, sequel, and a film that can stand on all its own at the same time. The fridging of Michelle Rodriguez was weak sauce though, and it was only made stupider by the fact that she was brought back. They should have come up with a more clever way of getting everyone back together though.
5. Furious 7
While this was not as tight of a film as F6 (it was pretty funny that Kurt Russell convinced the crew to find this machine to use to find Statham but Statham just kept showing up wherever they were lol), the emotion elicited from the tribute to Paul Walker really elevated this and covered up some gaping inadequacies.
4. Fast & Furious 6
This has a little bit of an Age of Ultron vibes in that the franchise was excited to have the gang back together again but was not really ready to have a marquee villain. Luke Evans felt like a holding pattern “character” and was as corny and half-baked as Ultron to boot! Also, too many scenes were shot at night! What is the point of all these fucking stunts if you can barely see them.
Starting with Fast Five, the franchise has really just turned the characters into superheroes. For the most part, this has been a good decision. If creatively, it’s caused them to get a little repetitive, it has allowed them to find a lane that they can do quite well. It has however come at a steep price: Dwayne Johnson joined the franchise in entry #5. While that was initially fine as his cynical inhuman persona worked well slotted on the villain side, his babyface turn has been a creative anchor on the franchise ever since. Finally, in F9, the franchise was able to a superhero Fast entry sans The Rock. And it was a delight.
2. Los Bandoleros
The more control Vin Diesel has over his projects and the less he needs to create a mass-appeal product that needs to make a bazillion dollars, the more you see he is clearly a pretty interesting dude with things to say. Enter this short film that he directed that takes place sometime before the events of Fast and Furious. It’s twenty minutes of hanging out with the characters that happen to be in the Dominican Republic at the time. It’s good times and good vibes. It’s friends. It’s family. It’s all the genuine beauty that keeps the Fast movies from getting too detached from humanity. More things like this deserve to exist.
1. Fast Five
This movie has some problems (The Rock is honestly just SO bad in this, roughly a million people would have been better in this role, and then most of those actors would not have been clogging up the future films), but it has so much great action scenes and basically all of them feel different from one another. The decision to turn these characters into superheroes in this one will always feel “wrong” to me in some ways. With that in mind though, if you can kinda see this as just a reboot with the characters essentially developing new abilities off screen, you mostly can ignore it!