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Elsewhere: My Letterboxd review of the Fast and the Furious franchise

I’d been meaning to marathon the Fast/Furious movies since part seven came out in mid 2015. Yes, I love my trash as well as my treasures. I’d only ever seen the first one before, so obviously I needed to start from scratch: >Forget the clichéd plot, the leaps of logic, the horribly dated soundtrack, the terrible acting (except for Vin Diesel, who — much like Jason Statham — transcends criticism) because it’s all about those racing and chase sequences, still among the most exhilarating stuntwork on film.

2 Fast 2 Furious:

2 Fast 2 Furious is 2 much like a Bad Boys style buddy-cop actioner with a few added car-racey bits to feel like a natural sequel. And it suffers considerably from the lack of Vin Diesel. But James Remar is in it, so it’s not all bad. (Ludacris should’ve been the co-star over Tyrese, though, let’s be honest.)

The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift:

The car’s the star in Justin Lin’s debut effort in the Fast/Furious franchise, which both brings the series back to its roots after the Miami Vice escapades of the second film, and all but ignores its continuity with a standalone story of an American expat (Lucas Black, American Gothic) getting mixed up in the Japanese drift racing subculture. Lots of dayglo Asian fetishism to match the car porn, for sure, but it’s far from the nadir of the series it’s usually made out to be.

Fast & Furious:

Passing his test with Tokyo Drift, Justin Lin reinvigorates the main Fast/Furious story arc with the most video-gamish instalment yet. And that’s a compliment, because these movies aren’t worth watching for the acting. Paul Walker is still his rubbish self as the ostensible star of proceedings, but Vin Diesel makes a very welcome return to the fore.

Fast Five:

First, the bad. This film has a running time of some two hours and 10 minutes; that’s about 50% too long for a flimsily plotted action movie. Now for the good. It’s got Vin Diesel and The Rock kicking ass and destroying half of Rio. Need I say more?

Fast & Furious 6:

The evolution of the Fast/Furious franchise from street racing shenanigans to Bourne-inspired shooty-fighty thriller business – and even a hint of Hitchcock, with this flick’s preposterous amnesia storyline – was probably a necessary one, to keep things fresh six films deep, but it doesn’t mean I have to like it. The addition of former MMA fighter Gina Carano to the mix, and the relocation to a cor-blimey-guvnor facsimile of London, takes it even further away from its high-octane roots.

And I kind of miss the cars, to be honest, especially in a film that spaces out its meagre share of road-rage set pieces across more than two hours. Justin Lin’s third effort in the series is certainly slick and composed, like Michael Bay with visual restraint; the acting’s improved, too, with an easy camaraderie among the leads. But a more judicious edit at any stage of the process – starting with the convoluted, digressive screenplay – would not have gone amiss. And yet, its ridiculousness did win me over by the final act.

Furious 7:

Vin Diesel, The Rock and Jason Statham in the same movie? It’s like they know me! But in all sincerity, James Wan has taken the reins of the Fast/Furious franchise and given us the Most Action Movie in all its bombastic, preposterous, dumbfounding glory. It’s almost too much for one sitting. Shame about the teal and orange, though.