Faster And More Furiouser: The Fun-Time 7

I always had very low interest in the Fast & Furious series. I didn’t put much stock in the first few films, and after being completely out of the loop through the first three movies, I never even considered jumping in at any other point. I like The Rock, with the energy and comedic timing and pure physicality he can bring to roles, but by the time he was involved, getting through the first few movies to get to that point just wasn’t something I was going to try to do. None of my friends had ever expressed interest in watching the films, so the opportunity to jump in never arose.

Except, since then, I’ve come to find out that more than one of my friends have exclaimed their love for the series.

So as I’ve started trying to challenge myself to build out my movie reviewer resume, I decided that this was a series worthy of forming an opinion of, now that the 8th installment is hitting theaters this year. So periodically I’ve searched my cable lineup and DVR’ed them, out of order, and started collecting. Once the first three were on there, I decided it was about time to start watching, and now I’ve assembled the first six.

But alas, the viewing order. I spoke with my friends about the series a year or two ago, and I was educated about the order in which to watch them, keeping Tokyo Drift saved for later in the series, just prior to the end credits scene of Fast & Furious 6, for maximum impact.

Instead of reviewing them separately, I’ve decided to write just a bit on each installment here to keep it all together, leading up to the 8th one, since I’ve seen it in the theater – the first one for which I will have done that.

The Fast And The Furious

{Viewing: March 4th}

Multiple things about the first installment in the franchise reminds me (pleasantly) of POINT BREAK, especially the ending, and that’s more of a compliment than I ever expected to give this film. Call it “formulaic” or say it relies too heavily on a trope if you will, but the way THE FAST AND THE FURIOUS went about taking us on an undercover assignment with Paul Walker’s Bryan character just worked. It was a great kickoff that very easily established the need for a sequel. This isn’t a film about street racing, it’s a film about a de facto family of criminals who are excellent at driving cars, and a cop who gets caught up in their lifestyle and bonds of brotherhood.

My rating: 75 out of 100

2 Fast 2 Furious

{Viewing: March 20th}

Going into the film, I had heard that in a couple ways, this one diverted from the first one. The fact that Vin Diesel didn’t appear in the movie was interesting, especially because of how significant his character was to the first one, with everything essentially revolving around Dominic Toretto. Secondly, and just as interesting, Paul Walker’s character no longer being a member of law enforcement based on the fallout from the first film was an interesting way to push things forward in a somewhat fresh way, and show the next step in his life without it being a significant re-tread of the first. My expectations were somewhat low due to those two factors and because of the involvement of Tyrese Gibson, of whom I wasn’t necessarily a fan prior to this series. I was really curious how this film was going to carry the franchise into something that spawned at least six more sequels, so I dove in. What I got was something above average, with potential.

The scene near the end where the protagonists use their connections with dozens of street racers to help them get away from the police was more clever than I expected, and again, the film showed me why there was enough interest to extend the series to another film with these characters.

My rating: 60 out of 100

Fast And Furious

{Viewing: March 20th}

Starting things off by reintroducing Vin Diesel into the series after being gone for 2 FAST was done with one of the more unique car chase / hijacking scenes I’ve seen. Having trucks steal MULTIPLE oil tanks from a tractor trailer, while moving, made for some incredible action, and they made it somewhat believable, which was surprising. Just as surprising is how they found a way to keep this series moving along in a fresh, natural way, not letting things get stale and not just re-treading previously driven storylines.

The car chase through the underground tunnels near the end of the movie was yet another example of an interesting twist that these movies bring, and it legitimately stressed me out a little bit, like any good, intense scene in an action film should do, which is surprising because I know, based on the cast of the sequels, that both protagonists survive the scene. And the very, very end of the movie found a way to do what many films fail to do – it turns the story on its head and shifts into a higher gear heading into a sequel. A sequel which, now having seen the (chronologically) first three films in the series (because Tokyo Drift comes later), I am interested in the fifth installment. Not just because The Rock is in it.

My rating: 75 out of 100

Fast Five

{Viewing: March 21st}

I loved the way this one started, with a variation on the multi-car, “while it’s moving” task they had done in previous films. I also loved the fact that Brian went full-on criminal after the cop-out from the previous film whereby he’s essentially just brought right back into the world of law enforcement. Having them try to steal from the big bad from the film, whose money was in a safe in a police station, while also trying to avoid getting caught by The Rock and his badass multi-national law enforcement agency, was also a cool idea. And the way they brought in extra characters, some of whom hadn’t been on the team together all in the same film, it gave it something of an Ocean’s Eleven type of vibe, which I really enjoyed.

That bank vault extraction scene, and the car chase, though. That’s the scene that took this film to the next level in terms of absurd entertainment. It was stupid fun, and the level of destruction it caused just brought a huge smile to my face… and really, that’s what this series is all about at this point.

I really dug the post-credits scene that helps setup the sequel, with The Rock giving them time before he’ll be tracking them down again, also notably because they brought back (for a cameo) Eva Mendes (last seen in 2 Fast 2 Furious). And the big reveal that helps give us even more reason to care about Fast & Furious 6? LETTY’s BACK!

BOOM!!! Mind BLOWN!!

My rating: 80 out of 100

Fast & Furious 6

{Viewing: March 22nd}

Oh WOW was this a fast-paced flick! With Luke Evans playing the villain, and his badass, Formula 1 style cars, armored up? Good times!

Seeing the Toretto Team take on a tank was crazy, and the way they ended up taking it out was unbelievable but definitely garnered some entertained clapping and some laughs from yours truly, and if that’s what they’re going for in this series, they’ve succeeded without making it hokey. Major accomplishment.

Building on that idea, the ending sequence, whereby they’re battling a large plane, is ridiculous but incredibly fun. The runway would have to be insanely long for this sequence to work, but if you can put that aside, the way it plays out is worth it.

And, oh man, watching Tokyo Drift for the first time, in between the end of this movie and the end-credits-scene? DEFINITELY some great advice provided to me by some friends who know what’s up!

My rating: 75 out of 100

Fast & Furious: Tokyo Drift

{Viewing: March 23rd}

Easily the worst film in the series. Had I watched this one third overall, I probably wouldn’t have made it to the fourth installment without some serious convincing. It’s essentially Karate Kid 2, only with street racing instead of martial arts. And without the strong side story that Karate Kid 2 had regarding families and betrayal and jealousy.

The drifting was somewhat cool, but it was over-shadowed by the amount of damage done to the poor cars. I don’t know how anyone would be willing to allow someone else to do that much damage to their car and not really seem to care. It didn’t help that the acting from most of the characters was average-at-best.

The only good thing about this film is how it gives us an idea of what happens to Han after his involvement in Fast & Furious 6 (which is weird because that movie came out a few years AFTER Tokyo Drift), and it helps lead us right into the situation where (during the post-credit scene from Fast & Furious 6) Jason Statham enters the series.

My rating: 45 out of 100

Fast & Furious 7

{Viewing: March 24th}

Whoa, talk about a roller coaster ride! Jason Statham entering the series in a huge way, putting The Rock’s character on the shelf after a great fight scene early on in the film. I thought it was gutsy to do that, given the massive popularity of The Rock, and the injury meaning he wouldn’t be involved in a ton of the action throughout the course of the film. Needless to say, when he picks up a mini-gun from a crashed drone and fires it up, that makes up for the time he spent laid-up in a hospital bed for the majority of the flick.

One of the film’s highlights, for sure, was the heist scene where they had to get something from a car stored high in a tower in someone’s condo. Seeing the car fly through the window towards another tower, and ultimately crashing to the ground a few dozen stories below, provided some amazing visuals.

After all the crazy stuff they did in previous films, the destruction of a parking garage near the end of this film was actually a nice way to go with things. It added a touch more believe-ability to things, which I find oddly important in a film series otherwise filled with absurdly crazy stunts and action sequences.

The way the film dealt with Paul Walker’s death and moving forward in the series without his character was done in a way that I found to be a bit overly cheesey, but I understand the frame of mind they all must have been in when faced with the fact that a cornerstone of the franchise, a central member of the Fast & Furious Family, died in such a horrible-yet-ironic manner during filming, so I don’t down-grade the film’s rating because of it.

My rating: 80 out of 100

For the review of The Fate Of The Furious, you’ll have to check out my full write-up in a separate page (once it’s written)!

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