Tuesday 28 May 2013

Rank the Films: Fast and Furious

As any regular reader of feeling fuzzier will know, lists are pretty darn nifty. We have a profound appreciation for straight-up lists. This is the thinking behind Rank the Films, a regular feature that pulls apart the pros and cons of a series of films, ranking them in order of bad to good. 

With Fast and Furious 6 hitting screens across Australia on June 6th, in this instalment of Rank the Films we decided to take a look at the rest of the franchise (from The Fast and the Furious [2001] to Fast Five [2011] and rank them in order from worst to best. 

5th - 2 Fast 2 Furious (2003)

The first sequel of many, 2 Fast 2 Furious is the least entertaining and the most needlessly flashy of this franchise. Essentially a whole lot of substance and very little underneath the pretty cars and prettier women, 2 Fast 2 Furious is a fairly forgettable experience that doesn't really tax the braincells or stretch the imagination. 

With Dominic Toretto opting to sit this entry out, the focus here is on Paul Walker's undercover cop Brian O'Connor who is looking to get in deep with a gang of underground street-racers. Essentially, 2 Fast 2 Furious is a bit like Speed 2: Cruise Control. Without its lead actor, most of the magic is gone. The action certainly is fast and furious but it is also flashy, noisy and messy. 

And let's be honest here, whoever came up with that god-awful title should be shot. In the foot, just so it hurts more. 

4th - The Fast and The Furious: Tokyo Drift (2006)

A pseudo-spin-off, Tokyo Drift is a new direction for the franchise after the disappointing 2 Fast 2 Furious. Or, at least that was the idea. Tokyo Drift has an entirely new cast (Lucas Black as 17 year-old scamp Sean Boswell is the lead), a new setting (Tokyo, duh) and a new director (Justin Lin). 

The makeover is fairly superficial however as the premise is more or less the same; attractive young people drive attractive and expensive cars ridiculously fast. BUT THIS TIME IN JAPAN. Revolutionary, I know.

The format here is too similar to ever feel completely fresh or exciting. The acting is terrible and the script is as flat as ever. The only main plus point is the neon-lit visuals and colours. Also, the chronology is all over the shop; even though is was made in 2006 and Fast 6 comes out in 2013, Tokyo Drift is apparently the last chronologically. So what, is this film set in the future? Also, Vin Diesel has a cameo at the end, meaning we all know he lives through Fast 6 and next years Fast 7. Great (either that or he's a cyborg because it's the future, duh)

At the end of the day, Tokyo Drift drifts into obscurity alongside other unnecessary spin-offs like The Scorpion King and X-Men Origins: Wolverine

3rd - Fast and Furious (2009)

Returning the central characters after Tokyo Drift, 2009's Fast and Furious (also in the running for most stupid film title of the franchise) has some plus points to its name. 

First of all, it's the first since The Fast and the Furious (2001) to have Vin Diesel as the lead and it also has sees Paul Walker return as O'Conner. Michelle Rodriguez is also back as Letty Ortiz and Jordana Brewster returns as Mia Toretto. Put all this together and you get an entry that is fairly solid, if unspectacular. 

For those unfamiliar with the franchise, the plot may be a little convoluted but at least it tries to something a little different after the first cookie-cutter entries. It is however the first real sequel to the original, which is something I liked about it.

2nd - The Fast and The Furious (2001)

Rotten Tomatoes: 52%

The original - the best? Not quite. The Fast and the Furious was released back in 2001 and launched the careers of both Vin Diesel and Paul Walker. Respectively, the play ex-con Dom Toretto and undercover LAPD cop Brian O'Conner.

The Fast and the Furious is something of a guilty pleasure that, like most of the others in the series doesn't require much emotional investment or thought.

Unlike it's less than great sequel however, this first film is relatively fresh and doesn't pretend to be anything that it isn't (which is essentially a B-grade cop flick with some slick looking cars). Also, it doesn't feel as though it has aged as rapidly as its newer stable-mates.

1st - Fast Five (2011)

How many fifth films in a franchise can claim to be the pick of the bunch? If you answered none, then Fast Five is here to prove you wrong.

A new setting (Rio de Janeiro), a new vibe (more of a crime/heist movie than a Fast and Furious movie) and an injection of new talent (adding Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson to proceedings really spiced things up) all made Fast Five a cut above the rest in this franchise.

Like I said, the central plot of this fifth entry is that of a $100 million heist rather than street cars or racing, making it a lot more approachable for a wider audience. Pitting the Rock and Vin Diesel up against one another in a cataclysmic fist fight was quite possibly one of the most testosterone fuelled things committed to cinema (okay, that might be a slight exaggeration).

The ending will also feed into the plot of the next film, Fast and Furious 6, which is due out here in Australia on the 6th of June. Excited? Apprehensive? Over it? Let me know in the comments section below!

Rank the Films will be back in June with a bumper edition: Pixar. Click on these links to read previous editions: #4: Marvel, #3: Die Hard, #2: Star Wars, #1: Harry Potter

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