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That whole franchise is the definition of film fast food, consumed in one gulp and forgotten a day later. This is not to say that Paul Walker, Vin Diesel, Dwayne Johnson and most recently Jason Statham (breaking news: who is wearing a shirt all time) would not take the opportunity to make the best of the often clumsy dialogues. It’s a somehow charming bunch. The women are less well off, I suppose there are severe paycheck reasons for the team ladies to continue participating in what’s basically a (male) teenager’s wet dream. The stunt teams manage to keep the screen busy with cars of all sorts and sizes, and I can easily imagine that they will come up with ways to destroy more parts of more cities in a couple of more installments. As Justin Lin has such nice ties with China’s production landscape now, a chase through the Forbidden City and across Shanghai’s Pudong is almost guaranteed…

 

 

Fast 2 Furious (2003)

http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/2_fast_2_furious/

Having seen this a couple of weeks and a couple of Fast Furious films ago, I can fairly say it is mostly forgettable. What sticks in the memory is the diversion of the police squads by releasing an abundance of race cars on the city streets. Tyrone Gibson is the new addition to the cast that is intended as comic relief, but in the end, this is just another addition to the sterotypical simplicity the first film already showed generously. There’s a role for girls (hot), and for blacks (fast-talking). The final car-boat chase is beyond ludicrous and should be a disappointment even for the fans of car chases.

 

The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift (2006)

http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/fast_and_the_furious_tokyo_drift/

I learned something through this film, and that is the fact that there are drifting competitions. I don’t know why anybody would want to drive, let alone race like this, but then again, what do I know about the minds of car racers. It is kind of a fun weird setting, racing mostly in parking garages. The half-naked American girls are appropriately replaced by half-naked Japanese girls. The cars lean a bit more on the Nissan side, but then again, American Muscle will of course prevail… it is all silly, and the absence of Paul Walker and Vin Diesel does not do the film a favour. Drift King and Prime Douchebag Takisha is so poorly developed and acted that it looks a bit as if the authors wanted to make fun of him. On the other hand, there is Sung Kang as Han Seoul-Oh, who tries to give some form of laid back coolness to the whole Yakuza over-excitement. Cringe-worthy father-son moments are also provided. Not a good film, but it still lingers a bit longer than part 2, probably because of the Tokyo setting.

 

Fast & Furious (2009)

http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/fast_and_furious/

Back with Paul Walker and Vin Diesel, back with American landscapes, and back with a bit more straighhtforward villains and cops. The key set pieces are races through an underground tunnel system between Mexico and the US, and that part was actually a bit boring. The writers try to give a bit more of a human side to Dominic, by playing up his despair over losing some previous lover, and in the end it all leads to great brotherhoods and heroic gestures. No details worth remembering, other than the way bad guy Fenix is killed in the end. He deserved it, because he was particularly ill-written.

 

Fast Five (2011)

http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/fast_five/

Things are getting better when Dwayne Johnson shows up. This is true for many films, and I my guess is that without the addition of this cast member, the franchise would have died after this fifth instalment. But here’s a good opportunity to have two hulks fistfight, and to have them show their inner puppy. Not subtle, but then again, this is Fast and Furious … The train heist in the first act is actually quite well done, and the cars Dominic’s crew are stealing look spectacular for once. The final features maybe the most spectacular set piece of the whole franchise, a chase through Rio de Janeiro with a whole bank vault in tow. A lot of things break until the showdown on a bridge, including the bad guys. Money safely tugged away, life could be comfortable from now on…

 

Fast & Furious 6 (2013)

http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/fast_and_furious_6/

However: Dwayne Johnson convinces Vin Diesel to come out of deserved retirement by telling him that former girlfriend of his is still out and about rather than dead as he thought. She joined the Dark Side, and the Dark Side is out to steal a “SUPERWEAPON THAT CAN DESTROY EVERYTHING”. Yes, the franchise finally reaches the level of ludicrousness early James Bond films featured. The Russian bad guy should have a cat on his lap, then all would be good. Then some stuff happens, including another high-damage chase in Spain including some Seats being smashed by a tank. And then they down a plane and all is good.

 

Furious 7 (2015)

http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/furious_7/

Of course the opening sequence is fun… having Jason Statham walk through the debris after he single-handedly devastated a hospital is a boy’s dream of opening a movie. Should have been a man’s job, though, as the cgi is a bit off and the whole scene appears ridiculous rather than impressive. Ridiculous is, however, the theme of the seventh film: After 12 minutes you know that they did not invest their money into script and dialogue doctors, especially Dwayne Johnson has a sample of terribly tacky tough man talk to perform. Ridiculous-level 11 is reached when Kurt Russell enters the scene, as some form of government agent who pulls strings while wearing an ill-fitting Men-In-Black outfit.

They all end up in Azerbaijan somehow and for one reason or the other rescue a hot girl from a villain convoy, and after that in Abu Dhabi, where they destroy three skyscrapers with a Ferrari. At some point they are back in the US and Dwayne Johnson bare-chestedly (I think) uses very large guns against drones and helicopters.

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