The Fast Saga (Ranked & Reviewed)
Transcribed directly from an audio recording
The much-anticipated trailer for F9 premiered the other day featuring a few surprising family twists, the return of some beloved characters in the franchise and cars swinging from bridge lines. It looks utterly ridiculous, and I for one am excited. I’ve been following this franchise since 2001 and have watched all nine films in the cinema on opening night. It’s been a twenty-year journey and as such, I thought this would be a perfect time to rank the franchise from worst to best. There is a little bit of a caveat, however. This franchise, in particular, has shifted its focus several times and in fact, it could be said that as time has gone by, the films have ventured into other genres. As an example, the original trilogy of films focus more on local street racing, the second trilogy of films venture more into the heist and espionage genre and the newer trilogy of films focus on over-the-top action, absurdity and varied geographical locations. With this in mind, it’s tough to truly rank this franchise given that the focus has shifted significantly since inception. The budgets have also increased drastically over time with each new film as well. Another interesting note is that technically the official timeline of the franchise doesn’t follow the release timeline of the films. Technically, the order of the timeline is 1, 2, 4, 5, 6, 3, 7, 8, H&S.
With all this said, I’ll do my best to rank the nine films in the franchise from worst to best. I’ll also be including Hobbs & Shaw in this ranking and I’ll include a quick note about each film. I hope you enjoy this rankings list and perhaps I’ll see you on opening night of F9.
Number 9 is 2 Fast 2 Furious.
This film is probably the most childish or adolescent film in the franchise. Paul Walker is the only returning cast member from the first film and the geographical location is changed to Miami. The one positive note about this film is the introduction of franchise regulars like Roman Pearce and Tej Parker. I would consider this film the worst in the franchise for the simple fact that it seems to be aimed at a less mature demographic and doesn’t feature the staple cast of the original. It does continue the street racing theme and does amplify it heavily, but generally speaking, this film is laughable and juvenile at best. At this point in the franchise, I’m sure the filmmakers were still unsure about what and where to take this brand. This film feels like an attempt to figure out what path to take the franchise on.
Number 8 is Fast & Furious.
This film is essentially a soft reboot of The Fast Saga. Many fans were disappointed that The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift didn’t feature any familiar characters except a small cameo from Vin Diesel. The idea of this film is in the right place. Bring back the original cast of characters and refresh the brand for more mature audiences. The reintroduction of familiar faces is a great choice by the filmmakers. I will give this film credit for at least slightly resurrecting the franchise and leading to Fast Five. At the time, I was surprised that this film came out given that the franchise was on its last legs after the third film in the franchise. There also is some pretty noticeable poor CGI that didn’t help this film out either.
Number 7 is The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift.
This film features a brand new and much younger cast. It shifts locations from the United States to Japan and features Drift Racing as its theme. Truthfully, I don’t actually mind this film. It’s not terrible. At the time, it felt like each new film in the franchise would feature a new cast in a new location whilst still retaining the “Fast” branding. This seemed like a decent approach, but many fans were upset that each new film featured an entirely new cast. By the time the fourth film came out in the franchise, the filmmakers decided to bring back the core team of characters from the first film. As a stand-alone, this film is actually quite enjoyable and I do very much appreciate that the filmmakers were able to establish a connection between this film and the franchise in later films like Fast & Furious 6 and Furious 7.
Number 6 is Hobbs & Shaw.
When Furious 7 came out, it was beyond obvious at the time that this film was coming after the chemistry we saw between The Rock and Jason Statham. This film feels quite different than the rest of the franchise. It is less about cars and is more of a buddy action film. It is funny, ridiculous and a great time to watch as a summer blockbuster hit. It is beyond over-the-top and incredibly unrealistic but with appearances from Ryan Reynolds and Idris Elba, this is a fun and funny film. If you come into watching this with an open mind for absurdity, you’ll, at the very least, be entertained.
Number 5 is The Fast and the Furious.
This is the film that started it all. For my generation, this film was and still is ridiculously popular. Shows like Pimp My Ride and MTV Cribs were hot stuff in the early two-thousands and this fit right in. This film speaks to our generation and at the time, was an absolute hit with my demographic. I still remember watching this in theatres on opening weekend and showing up to the cinema with a plethora of souped-up cars sitting outside on display. The film is quite laughable in retrospect but it did feature familiar themes and characters we’d come to know for twenty years. This film is an absolute gem, even if not critically revered.
Number 4 is The Fate of the Furious.
This film is certainly the most ridiculous in the franchise but it also features some of the best stunts, action and absurdity. It has a decent plot twist with Dominic Toretto as the villain and it features many beautiful locations. I enjoy this film, generally speaking, and find it to be the epitome of what this franchise has become recently. It features a plethora of characters including strong supporting roles from The Rock, Jason Statham, Charlize Theron, and Helen Mirren. My sole issue with this film is how easily Jason Statham’s character is accepted into the crew at the end, given that he was apparently responsible for the death of fan favourite, Han. I’m sure that F9 will retcon this in some fashion given that Han didn’t die in The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift according to the F9 trailer.
Number 3 is Fast Five.
Some consider this film the best in the franchise. After Fast & Furious, this film is really what reinvigorated the franchise. It features The Rock in his first Fast film and brings back many likable characters from the past. It shifts gears into a different genre of film and steers away from the local street racing themes of the original trilogy. It is more mature and aimed at a more adult audience. It features grander stunts, more beautiful locations and more intense action overall. It is a great film in the franchise and really the start of the successful blockbusters we see today in The Fast Saga.
Number 2 is Fast & Furious 6.
The rankings for the number two and number three spots on this list were tough to choose but Fast & Furious 6 gets the upper spot. It features everything we love about Fast Five but amplifies it slightly and continues the story in interesting ways. It also ties up loose ends and brings The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift back into the fold. It clears up any timeline discrepancies by having Han still alive in the past few films and really closes the middle trilogy well.
Number 1 is Furious 7.
Many can agree that this film is the best in the franchise. It takes the best parts of the franchise and combines them into one film. It features over-the-top action, street racing, heists and is the last film featuring Paul Walker. It also has the best ending in the franchise and features a beautiful send off to Paul Walker’s character. Paul Walker died in the middle of production which severely affected the ultimate outcome of this film, but with this said, everyone including the cast and filmmakers rallied together well to bring us this mostly cohesive film. For what they had to work with, this film is really well put together. It is the best the franchise has produced and certainly the most endearing and touching in The Fast Saga.