Welcome back to #TopFiveTuesday! This weekend is bringing us a very blessed pair of Cinema Hooligante (sponsored by our pals at Milwaukee Record) screenings of 2 Fast 2 Furious. If you know me, chances are I have waxed rhapsodic regarding this series of movies (the Furiverse, as I like to call it) to you in person, but to those who haven’t had the pleasure, allow me to sing their praises to you in a special extended edition of our weekly listicle as I….
...RANK THE FAST AND FURIOUS SERIES!
1. Furious 7
(Dir. James Wan | USA | 2015)
A commonly held idiom contends that one can have “too much of a good thing”. What Furious 7 presupposes is…you can’t? 140 minutes of mayhem that leaves you feeling fully wrung out, this movie has everything:
It is everything I love about the series blown out to absurd heights – massive emotions, ridiculous set pieces, all in the service of a story about family (or ‘fambly’, as many in the fandom have taken to calling it).
2. Fast Five
(Dir. Justin Lin | USA | 2011)
Most a-fast-ionados will point to Fast Five as they favorite in the series, and it’s hard to find fault in that selection. It is the first film to fully enable the sprawling cast of the previous films as a collective, and it introduces The Rock as a delightful (and delightfully sweaty) foil to our heroes. It also features an absurdly jacked up heist sequence that plays like if Ocean’s Eleven featured a scene where George Clooney said “Let’s just do it and be legends, man.” It should also be noted that Justin Lin is both the most tenured director in the Fast series (helming 3,4,5, and 6) and the best, finding the proper balance between physics-defying CGI and practical vehicular mayhem.
Who wore it best? Vin Diesel and The Rock fighting in Fast Five, or the titular meat from experimental filmmaker Jan Švankmajer’s short Meat Love?
3. Fast & Furious 6
(Dir. Justin Lin | USA | 2013)
Yet another movie that many will point to as their favorite, Fast & Furious 6 features perhaps the defining moment of lunk-headed beauty from the entire enterprise. Seeing the love of his life get catapulted from a tank into a chasm, Dom drifts his car into an embankment and catapults himself towards her, catching her in a midair as they safely (?) land on the windshield of a nearby vehicle. It is the ultimate cinematic expression of romance, and dare I say, the most romantic moment in the history of manmade art.
4. 2 Fast 2 Furious
(Dir. John Singleton | USA | 2003)
The recently deceased John Singleton put his muscular imprimatur on the series with this second entry, one that also introduced a number of beloved characters to our story (Tyrese’s Roman Pearce, Ludacris’ Tej) while taking the time to expand the absurdity of this universe, culminating in a Dukes of Hazzard-ass car jump onto a riverboat. What a treat. Join us, pop open a Corona (YEAH THAT’S RIGHT WE’VE GOT CORONAS FOR SALE), and enjoy the vibes with us this weekend!
5. The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift
(Dir. Justin Lin | USA | 2006)
The touching story of a 35-year-old high school student sent to live with his naval officer father in Tokyo after a street-racing mishap (let it be noted that the mishap involved the non-JTT son from Home Improvement, in an ultimate “whoa, that guy!” moment. The most important thing to take place in Tokyo Drift is the introduction* of the snack-loving, precision-racing, epic-romance-having Han Seoul Oh. He is the best and coolest character in this film series, and I will brook no argument on this front. How good is he? Realizing what a fan favorite Han was, they included him in subsequent sequels despite his SPOILER ALERT death in this movie, creating a weird knotty chronology that finally resolves itself in the end credits stinger of Fast & Furious 6. Confused? Don’t be – chronologically speaking, it goes 1,2,4,5,6,3,7,8!
*Yes, I realize that Han technically first appeared in Justin Lin’s cinematic debut Better Luck Tomorrow, but bear with me.
6. The Fast and the Furious
(Dir. Rob Cohen | USA| 2001)
From the humble origins of a bobo Point Break riff sprung this billion-dollar franchise. Drake voice Started from the bottom, now we fight submarines. Looking past the low DVD-player-theft stakes, you can see why people have taken to this action series, even if you can’t exactly have predicted where they’d end up (from boosting combo TV/VCRs to covert ops maneuvers performed with cars).
7. Fast & Furious
(Dir. Justin Lin | USA | 2009)
Though this entry showed the franchise taking baby steps toward the ensemble delight it would soon become, it is still lower-tier Fastiverse content. But as a sort of hint of the madness to come, the film’s finale features Brian holding the villain’s leg in place so Dom Toretto can drive into him at full force. It’s but a taste of the physics-defying lunacy to come in future installment, an amuse-bouche suffused with Monster Energy Drink.
8.The Fate of the Furious
(Dir. F. Gary Gray | USA | 2017)
Unfortunately, for this guy, the latest is far from the greatest. The loss of Paul Walker from the series throws the delicate ecosystem wildly off-balance, leaving us all coughing from the excess Diesel fumes being let off in this entry. And it brings me no pleasure to state that Charlize Theron as a dreadlocked villain does no favors to the franchise either (especially when the stakes involve fridging a previously competent female character). Also, Milwaukee Film is forever and always a #JusticeforHan non-profit. That said, there is a moment where all of their cars form a vehicular shield to protect Dom (bringing this to mind) and The Rock redirects a missile fired by a submarine with his bare hands. Silver linings playbook, and all that.