The Ninjabot

THE FAST & FURIOUS FRANCHISE (ranked from best to worst)

Posted on April 1, 2015 at 9:54 am by Dylan Reynolds

Fast-And-Furious

At this juncture in my life I have fully ‘come out of the closet’ and accepted my un-ironic love for Brian, Dom, Letty, Mia and friends.

Like most folks it’s next to inconceivable that back in 2001 when F&F1 was released we would all be sitting around with bated breath anticipating a seventh (!) installment in the car racing franchise.

I mean it’s truly mind-boggling when you think about it. These movies are dumb (really, really dumb) and it’s obvious that the filmmakers were “making it up” as they went along with nothing resembling a grand vision or “universe building” game plan. But despite all common sense and logic they did just that… and brilliantly so.

What essentially began as a “POINT BREAK knock-off with street racing” (with a couple follow up sequels that had no real reason to exist) would rise like the mighty Phoenix to become what will go down as one of the greatest action franchises of all time- in the same league as the Die Hard’s, Lethal Weapon’s, Rambo’s, and Mission Impossible’s of the world.

Wait- what’s that? You think these movies suck?… Well screw you too- cause you’re not part of the FAMILY.

In anticipation of the release of FURIOUS 7- here’s my personal ranking of the Fast & Furious flicks:

Fast-Five-bannerFAST FIVE

I think we all knew this was coming- easily one of the best action films in the past decade. This movie is so damn good that it both resurrected a franchise that was aimlessly limping along and also elevated all the previous installments just by its sheer existence.  If you had never seen a Fast & Furious movie you could technically jump into this one and still enjoy the holy hell out of it. But now the previous four films serve as a “rich backstory” that fully round out the characters and relationships- making the theme of “family” that much more meaningful in this one.

mov340331-12 FAST 2 FURIOUS

Perhaps the most derided installment save for Tokyo Drift- this sequel belongs in the same proud (but small) category of “numbers awkwardly inserted in the title to look cool”- i.e. Se7en, Tak3n, Thir13en Ghosts, and the upcoming Fant4stic Four (according to the poster anyway). But besides that this “coke-filled Miami Vice fever dream” is very important to the development of the franchise in that it “expanded the universe” by adding the likes of Tyrese and Ludacris. Granted, at the time they were basically meant to replace Vin Diesel but like many aspects of these movies it all became a brilliant “happy accident” in the end. Also- this is the first “heist plot” of the series. Even though the first movie had stuff about stealing DVD players or whatever it was basically a 2000s version of the “troubled youth/ juvenile delinquent” melodrama (think ‘Wild One’ or ‘Rebel Without a Cause’). Part 2 helped steer the series in the direction of the “action extravaganza” it is today.

fast-furious-61FURIOUS 6

We’ve already established that Fast Five marked a “new direction” and you could basically break the franchise into two parts- before and after Fast Five. Therefore for arguments sake this is “Fast Five part 2”. And on those terms it is what I would consider a “solid” action sequel (Die Hard 2 and Lethal Weapon 2 come to mind). Yes, it isn’t as “classic” as the original but offers up plenty of the same elements that made the first one so good and therefore a worthy follow up. Plus it contains perhaps the single greatest moment in the series- when Diesel launches/ flies and catches Michelle Rodriguez in mid-air. When I first saw this scene in the theater I literally pumped both my fists in the air and screamed “Yes! Yes!!” like a jackass.

MPW-22938FAST & FURIOUS: TOKYO DRIFT

Speaking of dumb- holy Lord this movie is grating… but also infectiously entertaining. The closest correlation I can make is to BRING IT ON- while watching you know you shouldn’t be enjoying this thing and you actually feel a little guilty for doing so. But I guess the point in loving the Fast & Furious franchise is to accept it for all the “guilty pleasure” bliss it provides- and that’s the only way one could enjoy Tokyo Drift I think- as a guilty pleasure. I don’t even know where to begin- the characters are poorly drawn, the plot is eye rolling, the lead is a Paul Walker clone playing a teenager with a receding hairline, Lil Bow Wow has a stupid Hulk car (was this some kind of tie-in for the Universal/ Eric Bana movie?), and Sonny Chiba is collecting a paycheck. Because of this and much more I have no doubt that this particular installment will eventually develop the largest cult following and most “revival screenings” of any other film in the franchise.

Fast1THE FAST AND THE FURIOUS (i.e. part 1)

Honestly, this slot was basically a toss up between part 1 and part 4. Which by the way- both annoyingly have the same damn title except for missing a couple “the’s”- but I digress… I ultimately went with part 1 because of the well-worn cliché that “this is where it all began”. Plus it gets the “nostalgic bump” for me because it was the only one I bothered to see in theaters up until Fast Five. F&F1 is a bro-mance of the highest order- introducing the homoerotic elements that would continue throughout the series between Dom and Brian (yeah, I said it). And it also established the tone- which on the surface is way too serious for its own good and the filmmakers are seemingly not “in on the joke” (the joke being that their movies are dumb as rocks). But the more I’ve thought about how/why these movies work I’ve realized that in the age of “meta and snark” it’s the earnestness and sincerity of the Fast & Furious movies that make them so gosh darn charming.

fast-and-furious-paul-walker-illuminati-one-all-seeing-eyeFAST & FURIOUS (i.e. part 4)

Ironically this has the best plot/ story of any of the movies in that it not only “brings the gang back together” (after various members of the cast ditched out on the previous sequels) but also expands the mythos and relationships. Seriously, there’s actual growth and development in this script. Therefore it’s a bridge into the greatness that is Fast Five and you can tell director Justin Lin is really starting to get his footing on what these movies are all about (he’s the one person involved in this franchise that seems to get it). That said- my biggest gripe with the movie is the over- reliance on CGI for some key action sequences (i.e. the “gasoline truck explosion” in the opening and the “race through the underground tunnels” finale). Perhaps this was due to budgetary restraints but it seems the rest of the series admirably embraces practical stunt work (or better hidden CGI coupled with practical stunts). But this was the first time I felt like I was watching a video game rather than a movie- therefore it is technically “the worst” Fast & Furious movie.

MV5BMTMzMDc3NTQ4MV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTYwOTI3Njk5._V1_SY317_CR5,0,214,317_AL_THE FAST AND THE FURIOUS (1955)

If you’re one of those folks that was thinking that the Fast & Furious movies were a rare example of an “original franchise” not based on any pre-existing properties then you would need to slap yourself in the face because you would be DEAD WRONG!!! (sort of) Back in the 50s none other than the “King of the B’s” Roger Corman wrote and produced this drag/ car-racing flick meant as a cheapie programmer for drive in theaters. According to Wikipedia Universal bought the rights to the title but not the story- which itself was re-made in the mid-90s as THE CHASE- a forgettable Charlie Sheen, Kristy Swanson, Henry Rollins action/ comedy.

Anyway- The O.G. ‘Fast & Furious’ movie itself is in the public domain- so you can check it out on-line here:

Remember- opinions are like assholes. So if you have a different ranking of these movies sound off in the comments below!

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