The Fast and Furious (2001)
One Line Description: A street racing gang is suspected of robbing semi-trucks of high end merchandise.
This is the only one of the series that I had seen before, but it had literally been almost 10 years since I had seen it from start to finish. Let’s just get this out of the way right now, this is a bad movie. There is nothing else to say about it. The acting is downright terrible, and it’s very easy to see why outside of this franchise Paul Walker and Vin Diesel haven’t had great success.
The last couple of movies are heralded as being great popcorn action flicks, and I suppose you can make that argument here. There is some good action sequences, particularly that first street race Paul Walker participates in, and also the last truck robbery new the end. Speaking of which, can anyone explain why they suddenly do this one without disguises and in daylight when the other robberies all took place as night with like masks? Was it just be cause we already knew it was them at this point?
Overall, decent action, terrible story and some of the worst acting you will see form a movie this big ever.
2 Fast 2 Furious (2003)
One Line Description: A former cop joins forces with his ex-con friend to catch a criminal.
Everyone has told me that the second movie in the series is the worst, and that’s good to know because this is one of the worst movies I have ever seen. At least the first one was original, and unique. This movie recycles Paul Walker’s bland character and does nothing to make want to root for him. The action scenes are contrived, and why Tyrese agreed to play this over the top stereo type I don’t know1. Seriously, it’s not far off from this character from Not Another Teen Movie.
I have always liked Eva Mendes2, and this was one of her very early movies, but even she can’t save it for me. Cole Hauser plays the bad guy. COLE HAUSER! This guy was fine in Dazed and Confused, and I might even give you Hart’s War, but it’s all downhill from there. Then they filled their “rapper turned actor” quota by replacing Ja Rule with Ludacris. Seriously, was Ja Rule too busy to just bring back?
I toughed it out with the hopes that the 4th, 5th and 6th installments (I am skipping Tokyo Drift for now) would be better. Time will tell.
Fast and Furious (2009)
One Line Description: An FBI agent and his fugitive friend team up to take down a drug lord.
The fourth installment was definitely interesting. I skipped Tokyo Drift but this one almost picks up better after #1 than #2. It busts right into the action and we see Vin Diesel and Michelle Rodriguez. It doesn’t take very long for Paul Walker and Jordana Brewster to show up as well. Best surprise was definitely Shea Whigham, who plays sheriff Elias Thompson on Boardwalk Empire.
The acting in this one is improved over #2 and seems pretty on par with #1. The story is also halfway decent, which surprised me a bit. Although the the plot that a cop who was kicked off the force for letting a felon escape somehow becoming an FBI agent is beyond ridiculous.
The action scenes are definitely over the top, and somewhat exciting. But it was during this film that I finally figured out why I can’t get into these movies. I don’t really like car chases. I think about the Bourne movies and can say unequivocally that my least favorite scenes in any of those movies is any of the car chases. And as a result, I just can’t get all that into these.
This one was a big step up over #2, which I recommend skipping all together. Just watch #1 and the jump to this one (#4).
Fast Five (2011)
One Line Description: Two wanted criminals flee to Brazil where they do battle with a drug kingpin.
This is the first of the movies that felt like a real true “big budget” action movie. The inclusion of The Rock no doubt helped that perception. Although The Fast and Furious gets a lot of credit for being first, this might be the best one (to this point in the series). This one resembles Ocean’s 11 in many ways. First off, they bring back characters from all the previous movies, including Vince (from #1), Tyrese (from #2), Ludacris (#2), Han Lue (from #3) and Gisele Harabo (from #4). Secondly, it’s a caper about stealing money from other criminals that involves a crazy scheme.
These movies seem to have a few recurring themes. First off, Paul Walker’s character seems to just alternate between good guy/bad guy from movie to movie. Second, they always seem to be stealing or trying to take down drug dealers. In most cases, I don’t really understand where they have the resources to do what they do. In this one, they aren’t being backed by the FBI, yet they have warehouses, and computers and tons of cars and whatnot. The third theme is that it seems like in every movie, at least one cop or agent seems to turn bad, or help someone out. In this one, The Rock is this big bad dude and at the end of the movie he just let’s Paul Walker and Vin Diesel go. And then the Brazilian agent goes off with Vin at the end of the movie!
I get these movies for what they are. They are definitely throwbacks to a a certain type of movie that seemed to be especially popular in the late ’80s/early ’90s. For some reason they get a pass that lots of other big budget crap doesn’t though, and I really don’t understand why. For me, I want my movies to have more depth. If I want the experience I get from these movies, I feel like I could just play video games instead. But if you like over the top action, and ridiculous car chases, this one is definitely the best so far.
Fast and Furious 6 (2013)
One Line Description: An international agent recruits a crew of wheelmen to stop a former soldier from creating a super weapon.
Well this movie definitely went to 11. By far the most over the top and ridiculous one of the series. Not just with cars, with but people. Things were so crazy, that there were several action scenes which elicited laughter from the theater I was in. And really they should have called this movie Fast and Furious: The Bourne Transformation based on Paul Walkers ability to fend off three guys in a prison cell on his own, and Vin Diesels ability to battle guys twice his size. Unfortunately, that is where this movie loses me.
There is no action movie these days that don’t force you to suspend disbelief at some point, and I understand that. The problem I have is that the characters in this universe have become these borderline super humans who can hand-to-hand combat with anyone and walk away from every crash no matter how ridiculous. There is a scene near the end where Vin Diesel leaps out a car while moving, across the gap between two lanes on a bridge, catches Michelle Rodriguez (who is being thrown toward him) and have enough force for them to land on her side. There were more realistic scenes in The Avengers.
If this movie was just a one off thing, it would be one thing, but it seems weird having this progression. That being said, if you can completely suspend any belief is any sort of reality, this movie is action from one end to the other. I don’t think I can sit through another one of these though.