8. F9 (2021)
Perhaps the biggest faux pas that the Fast and Furious franchise can ever make is to reconsider its origins, and in F9 they did precisely that… twice.
Justin Lin’s fourth franchise instalment re-wrote Vin Diesel’s Dominic Toretto. All that had made Toretto such an enigmatic but utterly watchable character in The Fast and the Furious was undermined by a by-the-numbers tale, one that relegated the character’s love of cars to something learned on the race track under his father’s tutelage, dismissing the previously imagined made-on-the-streets narrative assigned to him.
A welcomed return for fan favourite Han (Sung Kang) also worked to undermine the impact of a number of the franchise’s previous instalments, his on-screen death across multiple movies explained away in a quick flash of exposition that seemed to assume everyone watching simply wouldn’t give it a second thought.
Unlike the entries listed thus far however, F9 offered some of the franchise’s funniest and most inspired action, even taking the crew to space. A chase through Edinburgh’s streets and across the capital city’s rooftops made for a phenomenal early movie sequence, while the final act chase and battle is perhaps the standout moment of this 10th franchise entry.
There is no doubt that this Fast and Furious film missed the likes of Dwayne Johnson and Jason Statham, but new cast member John Cena solidified himself as a memorable addition while there was a sense of nostalgia in seeing more screen time dedicated to so-called “originals” like Tyrese Gibson and Ludacris.
7. Fast & Furious (2009)
After two movies in which the Fast and Furious franchise had offered diminishing box office returns, Universal handed the series back to Vin Diesel, the actor and producer taking a more hands on approach behind the camera and bringing back the “family” at the heart of the original movie.
The result was something of a gear change for the franchise, Fast & Furious ramping up the action and drama ten-fold in pursuit of being the next Hollywood mega-franchise. Walker, Diesel and company worked under the stewardship of Tokyo Drift director Justin Lin to make a movie altogether more spectacular and enthralling than the two movies that had preceded it, providing the series’ most significant step away from the niche product The Fast and the Furious had begun the franchise as.
With Brian (Walker) and Dom (Diesel) coming together to take down a drug cartel, Fast & Furious was well and truly a movie about getting the band together both behind the scenes and in front of the camera, audiences returning in their droves to see the original crew back once more, the film earning more than double that of Tokyo Drift ($363.2million) at the box office. If The Fast and the Furious needed a fresh dose of adrenaline to see it into the next decade, Fast & Furious was it.
The rest is history.
6. Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs and Shaw (2019)
When Universal announced that they were partnering with Hollywood’s highest earning star Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson for a spin-off from the central Fast and Furious franchise, divisions grew among the “family”, Vin Diesel and Tyrese Gibson in particular taking to social media to tag Johnson a “traitor” and individualist. The movie, however, was actually quite good…
While overly long at 2 hours and 17 minutes, Hobbs and Shaw was the kind of actioner we rarely see anymore; that type of movie that has more fist fights than dialogue exchanges, just-about-believable technologies, spans the entire globe, and most importantly never takes itself too seriously. In what was the follow-up (at least in terms of release dates) to a film in which some cars out-run a submarine on a frozen sea, Hobbs and Shaw was even expansive in terms of the universe’s realms of possibilities, stepping out of Fast and Furious’ usual brand of pseudo-reality and into something more fantastical, a choice that both continued the franchise’s trajectory but also felt of detriment to its overall sense of belonging as regards the rest of the franchise.
With Dwayne Johnson and Jason Statham in the lead roles – the two performers perhaps best received in the post-original-trilogy era of the franchise – Hobbs and Shaw was guaranteed fun quips and acts of one-upmanship, and it certainly delivered in both respects. The issue was that Fast and Furious usually had an ensemble to spread comedy, action and drama amongst, and in centring on a much smaller cast Hobbs and Shaw lost the rapid hit-a-minute pacing of the later Furious movies, placing it in the bottom half of this list.
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