From the first roar of the first engine, The Fast and the Furious series is an adrenaline pumping thrill ride. Mostly. It has its share of minor issues, but for the most part, it gets better the longer you stick with it. Let’s take a look…
I did my homework before starting my watch-through of the series. I didn’t want to miss anything. Here’s a couple important details you need to know before beginning: A) There are two short films that were not released theatrically that take place in between some of the movies, and 2) FF3 takes place in between FF6 and FF7, so it’s really more like FF6.5. My reviews will follow the chronological order, not the release order.
Ready, set, GO!
- The Fast and the Furious (2001)
1 Fast 1 Furious is actually one of my least favorites. The plot follows FBI agent Brian O’Connell (Paul Walker) as he infiltrates the world of illegal street racingby befriending Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel). Dom has a large “family” surrounding him that grows with each film. The only family member actually related to him is his sister and O’Connell’s love interest, Mia (Jordanna Brewster). The end leaves Brian with a questionable future as he behaves in ways that are not allowed among law enforcement. Like all of the series, it’s full of fast cars, dangerous stunts, and scantily clad girls.
- Turbo-Charged Prelude (2003)
This short film has no dialogue as it traces what has happened to O’Connell between the first and second films. Brian gives up his badge and travels the country earning money as a street racer. He finally ends up in Miami, ready for…
- 2 Fast 2 Furious (2003)
2 Fast 2 Furious focuses only on Brian and the new friends and enemies he makes working out of Miami. His costar is his loudmouth friend from childhood, Roman Pearce (Tyrese Gibson). A new beautiful female FBI agent gets the friends to work as drivers for a drug boss. If O’Connell does a good job as an undercover driver, he can clear his record and earn his badge back.
- Los Bandoleros (2009)
Another short film, directed by Vin Diesel. This sets up the action that will take place in the next movie. It gives some motivation for the raid on a gas truck that takes place at the beginning of Fast & Furious. It also introduces (and reintroduces) some characters. It’s really slow and boring, but at least it’s short!
- Fast & Furious (2009)
Reuniting most of the cast from the first movie, 4 Fast 4 Furious watches each of the two main characters separately until they are reunited midway through the film. O’Connell, back with the FBI, is chasing down a drug lord while Dom is seeking revenge for the murder of his girlfriend Letty (Michelle Rodriguez). This is not the most engaging of the series, but it does have an entertaining chase through secret tunnels crossing the border of the USA and Mexico. Dom ends this film on a bus to prison while O’Connell decides again to leave the FBI behind.
- Fast Five (2011)
Leaving most of the street racing in the dust, my favorite of the series is easily 5 Fast 5 Furious. O’Connell has now officially moved from cop to criminal as he helps free Dom from the prison bus. The action continues throughout as the team assists Special Agent Hobbs (Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson) take down a corrupt businessman and culminates in an intense escape through a city while dragging a giant safe. This movie involves virtually every important character from all of the previous films.
- Furious 6 (2013)
For all promotional material, Furious 6 was called Fast & Furious 6. But Furious 6 is how the name appears on the film. Anywho, whatever it’s called, 6 Fast 6 Furious reunites the cast from Fast Five and builds on their relationships. To add a new twist, Letty returns from the dead. Lots of good action again and very little street racing again.
- The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift (2006)
3 Fast 3 Furious is definitely a departure from the series. None of the cast from the first two movies appear until a brief cameo at the end. Instead we follow Sean Boswell (Lucas Black) into the world of Japanese street racing, where drifting is king. He has his own share of misadventures and gets into a lot of street racing trouble. Han (Sung Kang) is introduced in this film and later appears in its prequels: FF4, FF5 and FF6.
- Fast & Furious 7 (2015)
7 Fast 7 Furious promises more action and more cast members from the earlier films, including Lucas Black and Paul Walker in his final film following his death. If they keep adding stars to this franchise, they’re gonna need bigger posters.
While not all of these films are my favorites to watch, I enjoy them more as they get away from the street racing and focus on more interesting stories. It is obvious that FF3 was made before the main characters had any intention of returning, but rather than just ignoring it like Halloween III, they have found ways to tie it into the world they have created. Continually expanding the FF world is what makes these films work. Typically this far into a franchise, the films get worse. But the opposite can be said for The Fast and the Furious. They are far more solid at the back end.
What about YOU? Which is your favorite FF film? Do you just watch for Paul Walker? What brings you back for more? Let me know in the comments!