Fast & Furious Franchise Review

TL;DR – It starts ridiculously serious for its subject matter before finding its groove after several films.     

The Fate of the Furious (Fast and Furious 8). Image Credit: Universal.

Well, when you are stuck at home unemployed in the middle of a pandemic, you can either head down some very unhelpful rabbit holes, or you can take the time filling in some blanks in your life. After spending too much time with the first, I decided to give the later a chance. So which movie blank should I look at correcting? This was the query set before me. There are a lot of films and genres to choose from but if there is one that most of my friends have seen, but I haven’t it would be the Fast & Furious Franchise, and well where better than to start there.

This has always been an odd franchise for me as I set well out of its target audience, hell I can’t even drive a manual, let alone parse most of the racing dialogue. Indeed, the only reason I know one of the characters is driving a 1970 Plymouth Barracuda and the other is driving a 2012 Nissan GT-R R35 Bensopra is that I looked it up in the Wiki. However, it keeps going from strength to strength, and while I had reviewed some of the later films, it was an oversight not to go back to the beginning and start anew.  To fix this, over the last few days, I have now watched all of the feature films in the franchise. So let’s dive into The Fast Saga a world of fast cars, high-speed crashes, so many different heists, and family above all.

The Fast and the Furious

The Fast and the Furious. Image Credit: Universal Pictures.
The Fast and the Furious. Image Credit: Universal Pictures.

Well let’s start where it all began with the first film and watching it, you would expect it to get a sequel or two but spawn a nine movie and counting franchise, no, not really. There is this odd slow-mo that they use, the dialogue is really clunky, and everyone is just permanently sweaty. Also that first moment you see what they are stealing and that 3 ¼ floppy disk you will be ripped back into the past.

However, among this awkward veneer is a solid action flick. We both open and close with two seriously good action set pieces, interspaced with some solid drag racing. The interplay of Brian (Paul Walker) the undercover cop and Dom (Vin Diesel) the leader of a street heist crew works and you can see how they built upon that (though it would take another two films before they come back to it). Overall, this is a silly film wrapped up in everyone being serious, which works here, but as we can see that won’t always work.     

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Directed by – Rob Cohen
Written by – Gary Scott Thompson, Erik Bergquist & David Ayer
Cast – Paul Walker, Vin Diesel, Michelle Rodriguez, Jordana Brewster, Rick Yune, Chad Lindberg, Johnny Strong & Matt Schulze.

2 Fast 2 Furious

2 Fast 2 Furious. Image Credit: Universal Pictures.
2 Fast 2 Furious. Image Credit: Universal Pictures.

From Los Angeles, we jump across the country to the other side of the coast to Miami which was a right choice from a visual perspective because Miami is almost a flip from the aridness of southern California. This is also the first time (but not the last) where we get a big shakeup with regards to the style of the film. They use a lot more noticeable speed ramping when the cars go flying it is almost like they enter warp speed. 

Without Dom being in the flick they have to use the first real bad guy in the series with drug lord Verone (Cole Hauser). This shifts the dynamic of the film, but it gives someone for Brian to take down for good this time. It also helps that we introduce a lot of the key supporting characters for the series with Roman (Tyrese) and Tej (Chris “Ludacris” Bridges). The lack of Dom et al. does hold it back, but the new focus does smooth over that a little bit.   

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Directed by – John Singleton
Written by – Gary Scott Thompson, Michael Brandt & Derek Haas
Cast – Paul Walker, Tyrese, Eva Mendes, Cole Hauser, Chris “Ludacris” Bridges, Devon Aoki, James Remar, Thom Barry, Edward Finlay & Mark Boone Junior

The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift

The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift. Image Credit: Universal Pictures.

While the third film in the series does not quite jump the shark, it does jump the Pacific as we shift gears by having a whole new cast and setting it outside of America in Japan. We also change the nature of the racing with drift now being king. It was the new hotness at the time, and much like Casino Royal would do with parkour in a couple of months, they helped smash drifting into the mainstream. This is also the first team-up of the leading creative pair in the franchise with Justin Lin as director and Chris Morgan as writer even though it fits weirdly in the overall timeline.  

There are some good races, strong supporting cast beats, an interesting antagonist in DK (Brian Tee) and ended on a high note with the final race being some of the franchise’s best. However, all of that is held back by one thing. Our main protagonist might be the most miscast role that I have seen in years. They clearly wanted Sean (Lucas Black) to be this teen rebel, but it fails on every level. To begin with, the demeanour Lucas gives is not rebel but the wide-eyed good old country boy from the south, which could have worked if he had been written that way, but he’s not. Also, the film goes out of its way to mention that he is a minor but then cast someone that looks like they are in their late 20s. It is not the low point in the series for me, but it is close.     

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Score – 3 out of 5 stars
Directed by – Justin Lin
Written by – Chris Morgan
Cast – Lucas Black, Sung Kang, Bow Wow, Brian Tee, Nathalie Kelley, Sonny Chiba, Leonardo Nam, Brian Goodman, Zachery Ty Bryan & Lynda Boyd with Vin Diesel

Fast & Furious

Fast & Furious. Image Credit: Universal Pictures.
Fast & Furious. Image Credit: Universal Pictures.

This is the film that codified what the future franchise is going to look like, brought the whole team back together, and introduced a lot of the key supporting players. However, it is also the low mark in the film franchise for me in a lot of ways.

To start with, this is the film where you can see the push into digital effects, which is not a bad thing in itself when done well. However, here they have not aged well at all. The main issue that I have with this film is that this is an incredibly silly film that everyone is playing super straight. I mean we have a tunnel under the USA/Mexico border can only be accessed by supercars for some reason, which is the second most stupid border crossing I have seen in cinema. This movie is so serious and it just narratively falls down. We have fake funerals, so much pouting, soooo much pouting. Honestly, this was a struggle to get through at times.             

Rating: 2 out of 5.

Directed by –     Justin Lin
Written by –
Chris Morgan
Cast – Paul Walker, Vin Diesel, Michelle Rodriguez, Jordana Brewster, John Ortiz, Gal Gadot, Laz Alonso, Sung Kang, Tego Calderón, Don Omar & Shea Whigham    

 Fast Five

Fast Five. Image Credit: Universal Pictures.
Fast Five. Image Credit: Universal Pictures.

The jump between this and the last film is like the difference between night and day. It is here where they found the formula that worked, and they have stuck with it for the rest of the films. After the previous films being heist-lite, this ditches the lite and goes the full hog. Everyone has their moment to shine as they go about dismantling Reyes (Joaquim de Almeida). We also get the introduction of new antagonist/friend Luke Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) swoled up for the role. There are strong supporting role moments from Han (Sung Kang) and Gisele (Gal Gadot), and everyone gets their own entry montage.  

Where this film nails it, is in its tone, discovering that sincerity is a better direction than seriousness. This allows the comedic moments to land and not feel out of place, then also for the focus of family not to feel shoehorned in. This balance is kept going forward and is one of the core reasons it has been as successful as it has. Also, I want to take this moment to point out that I do like how this franchise depicts its subtitles. The action is some of the best in the series, with the last set-piece moment being equal parts ridiculous and cool. Though I doubt the got through central Rio without accidentally cutting some poor civilian in twain.  

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Directed by –     Justin Lin
Written by –
Chris Morgan
Cast – Paul Walker, Vin Diesel, Jordana Brewster, Tyrese Gibson, Chris “Ludacris” Bridges, Matt Schulze, Gal Gadot, Sung Kang, Dwayne Johnson, Elsa Pataky, Tego Calderón, Don Omar, Joaquim de Almeida & Michael Irby with Eva Mendes

Fast & Furious 6

Fast & Furious 6. Image Credit: Universal Pictures.
Fast & Furious 6. Image Credit: Universal Pictures.

We continue from strength to strength, with Fast 6 adding new layers onto the formula. Now we have a more Bond feel to the proceedings with the main antagonist Owen Shaw (Luke Evans) being the one wanting to pull off a heist and our team this time trying to stop it. Hell, they even have a betrayal that I didn’t see coming, I don’t often get surprised like that, so good work film.   

The action in the film also takes a step up with the realization that while you need cars in the movie, you don’t need to frame them around a race. This gives us an absurd chase scene involving a tank, and then you look at the clock and realize that this was only the end of act two. So the film one-ups itself inside its own movie with the plane chase. Sure it must have happened on the world’s longest runway, but when the action is good, you let that slide.    

Rating: 4 out of 5.

 Directed by –     Justin Lin
Written by –
Chris Morgan
Cast – Paul Walker, Vin Diesel, Dwayne Johnson, Michelle Rodriguez, Jordana Brewster, Tyrese Gibson, Chris “Ludacris” Bridges, Gal Gadot, Sung Kang, Elsa Pataky, Luke Evans & Gina Carano with John Ortiz, Shea Whigham & Jason Statham

Furious 7

Furious 7. Image Credit: Universal Pictures.
Furious 7. Image Credit: Universal Pictures.

A new film and a new director which means that we have a new style of filmmaking on show. The first in a while. James Wan’s style is a lot flowier than what we have seen in the past, being prepared to spin and move around the action and dialogue to hit its timing. The story takes us further into this world of espionage that can only be defeated with fast cars with the addition of Mr Nobody (Kurt Russell) and the continued addition of former martial artists, with those that work (Tony Jaa) and those that don’t (Ronda Rousey). We also get the silliest moment in the franchise with a car driving through three high-rise buildings and given what has been and what is about to come, that is saying something.    

However, I did go into this film with a little trepidation. I knew what was going to happen at the end, but honestly, none of the other departures in the films up to this point had left any real mark on me so far. Well, right at the end, I found myself tearing up even though I knew it was coming. This could not have been easy for the cast and crew to keep on going after such a loss, but that moment was a beautiful send off for a friend. 

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Directed by – James Wan
Written by –
Chris Morgan
Cast – Paul Walker, Vin Diesel, Dwayne Johnson, Michelle Rodriguez, Jordana Brewster, Tyrese Gibson, Chris “Ludacris” Bridges, Elsa Pataky, Nathalie Emmanuel, Kurt Russell, Jason Statham,  Djimon Hounsou, Tony Jaa, Ronda Rousey & Ali Fazal with Lucas Black, Luke Evans & Noel Gugliemi    

The Fate of the Furious

The Fate of the Furious. Image Credit: Universal Pictures.
The Fate of the Furious. Image Credit: Universal Pictures.

The awkward title aside, this was the first film that I watched of the franchise and you can read a more detailed review HERE. Overall this was a solid film equal parts silly and sincere. I had forgotten that it starts with a big ad for Cuba, which was odd, to say the least. While it makes thematic sense, the film is hurt by splitting Dom up with the rest of his team, and the big bad Cipher (Charlize Theron) works better on paper than they do in the film. However, this was the first film to get the punching feeling like they had weight to it and the sequence in the plane as Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham) is probably the best action moment in the franchise so far.  

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Directed by –     F. Gary Gray
Written by –
Chris Morgan
Cast – Vin Diesel, Dwayne Johnson, Michelle Rodriguez, Tyrese Gibson, Chris “Ludacris” Bridges, Elsa Pataky, Nathalie Emmanuel, Kurt Russell, Jason Statham, Scott Eastwood, Charlize Theron, Kristofer Hivju & Celestino Cornielle with Tego Calderón, Don Omar, Luke Evans & Helen Mirren

Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw     

Hobbs & Shaw. Image Credit: Universal Pictures.
Hobbs & Shaw. Image Credit: Universal Pictures.

The last film in the series (at time of writing) is its first official spin-off (maybe second depending on how you class Tokyo Drift). Once again, you can read a more detailed review HERE, but there were a few things that struck me watching it with the whole weight of the franchise behind it. In contrast, a lot of the previous films had dabbled with Scifi, especially with regards to the more cyber aspects. This was the first film that went full steam down that route. Which is interesting and I wonder what impact that will have on future films. Also when you hire John Wick and Deadpool 2 director David Leitch you kind of know what you are going to walk into on the action front, and it is all there. It is big and bombastic, which suits our two main leads. However, what helped the film was Vanessa Kirby bringing in that different energy to counter all the bickering which was sorely needed. It is also the most ‘family’ of the films in a while.      

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Directed by – David Leitch
Written by –
Chris Morgan
Cast – Dwayne Johnson, Jason Statham, Vanessa Kirby, Idris Elba, Eiza González, Helen Mirren, Eddie Marsan, Eliana Su’a, Cliff Curtis, Joe “Roman Reigns” Anoai, John Tui, Lori Pelenise Tuisano & Josh Mauga with Rob Delaney, Ryan Reynolds & Kevin Hart.    

So there we have it, all the Fast and Furious films reviewed. I think after watching them all, I have a new appreciation as to how the series came to be where it is today. There was a lot of trial and error along the way, and I am not sure many films would have the chances they had today. However, I think that shows why it is so essential to support new films if you are a producer, you might have the next franchise on your hands. I am interested to see what you think of the franchise, let us know in the comments below. At least four more films are coming in this franchise, and given how solid that have (mostly) been up to this point, I would like to see where they go from here.    

By Brian MacNamara: You can follow Brian on Twitter Here, when he’s not chatting about Movies and TV, he’ll be talking about International Relations, or the Solar System.

Have you watched Fast & Furious Franchise?, let us know what you thought in the comments below, feel free to share this review on any of the social medias, and you can follow us
Here. Check out all our past reviews and articles Here, and have a happy day. 


Credits –
All images were created by the cast, crew, and production companies of Fast & Furious Franchise

3 thoughts on “Fast & Furious Franchise Review

  1. I’m a fan and our views pretty much line up on it, as far as how they rank (though I’d have Tokyo Drift last). Their increasing disregard for the laws of physics makes me giddy. I can’t wait for F9, or whatever they’re calling it.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Pingback: Map-It – Let’s Get Fast and/or Furious | TL;DR Movie Reviews and Analysis

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