3. Fast & Furious 6 (2013)
When Han was revealed to be alive in Fast Five, Fast and Furious was thrown into the air, with Tokyo Drift taking its spot later in the universe’s timeline and Han therefore still being alive. Its follow-up, Fast & Furious 6, was in many respects his movie, director Justin Lin paying the character (whom he helped to form in Tokyo Drift) the biggest tribute he could in what was to be the director’s last franchise entry as director before F9, released in 2021.
Remembered mostly for a spectacular airplane chase and crash scene in which Vin Diesel and Dwayne Johnson finally teamed up, Fast & Furious 6 was a movie all about the spectacle of modern action set pieces and CGI, but it was the final act in which Jason Statham would be revealed as the killer of Han in a loop-back to Tokyo Drift that would give this film its emotional kick and leave thousands of people begging for more.
This period of Furious films, between Fast Five in 2011 and Furious 7 in 2015, was incomparable in terms of thrills, excitement and creativity for the franchise which at the time was riding a huge wave of momentum. Sadly, nobody could foresee this being the last film in which Paul Walker would be able to experience these things for himself, his death coming shortly after this movie’s release in 2013, Fast & Furious 6 taking its place in history as the last time the “family” were ever truly together.
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2. Fast Five (2011)
Part heist movie, part car movie and all action movie, Fast Five took to the exotic streets of Rio De Janeiro, Brazil for some of the most captivating action sequences in any action movie released in the 2010s.
Following on from the success of Fast & Furious, Fast Five worked hard on the page to recreate the same sense of renewed friendships and the reuniting of families that had been so vital to the fourth film, bringing back Tyrese Gibson and Ludacris from 2 Fast 2 Furious, as well as Hung Kang from Tokyo Drift, to create the ultimate Fast & Furious ensemble for the crew’s heist of a bank safe from within a police station.
Pitting Vin Diesel’s lovable anti-hero Dominic Toretto against franchise newcomer Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson as CIA tracker Luke Hobbs was a masterstroke by the producers who set fans up for what was a dream match of action stars on the big screen, while the exotic locations, the reintroductions of characters and the (at the time) franchise-topping stunt work made for an extraordinary watch that would have rightly topped this list had it not been for the extenuating circumstances that surrounded our number one…
1. Furious 7 (2015)
Furious 7 is best remembered for saying goodbye to the franchise’s central character Brian O’Conner and, more aptly, the star who personified him, Paul Walker.
The actor’s untimely death at the age of 40 was met with shock and great sadness by those who knew him or had seen him on screen, but with a new Furious movie already scheduled for release, the cast and crew eventually pressed on with filming, inviting Walker’s brothers to act as stand-ins and body doubles for the CG-weaving of Walker’s features into the movie. The actor’s role was of course reduced, but what Furious 7 did to pay tribute to the man was one of the most extraordinary moments in mainstream Hollywood cinema for decades.
Following shots of the central cast looking on at Walker on the beach, sunset in the background and child in arms, Furious 7 entered a monologue from Diesel’s Toretto in which he paid a sincere and heartfelt goodbye to his friend, Walker’s Brian pulling up alongside him and driving in a different direction to end the movie in the most emotional but fitting way imaginable. It was the perfect send off to a character people had grown to love over the years, and the type of moment you don’t forget in a hurry.
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In this 7th entry, Jason Statham entered as the villain after his tease in Fast & Furious 6 to offer something new and exciting to the universe's dynamic, Dwayne Johnson returned to wield a turret-gun one-handed, UFC champion Ronda Rousey made a cameo and even the great Kurt Russell got in on the action for arguably the most star-studded and bonkers Furious film of the lot - when a fight involves one man slamming another so hard they crack the concrete beneath them, you know you're not watching a humble street race franchise anymore.
Furious 7 went on to make $1.5billion in box office revenue, making it the most successful of the franchise and the 9th highest grossing film of all time (per records in 2020). It was a movie that transcended the franchise's humble roots, that even arguably transcended the screen itself, a film that became something of a moment to remember, an "I was there when I saw that".
Very few franchises come close to what Fast and Furious has achieved financially, but in what it achieved in piercing the zeitgeist with Furious 7, the Furious series did more than just make another successful movie, it became a household name, a memorable and greatly appreciated action movie franchise the world over.
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