I watched the first four movies in a single day; overall they were fun enough to watch but reasonably forgettable.
Fast and the Furious – I’m not into cars or racing at all, but this was an enjoyable enough experience; the most interesting element was the protagonist’s insertion into the illegal street racing culture and his ambivalent relationship with Vin Diesel and crew. The punch-ups were pretty silly, and I didn’t like the ultimate valorisation of highway robbery.
2 Fast 2 Furious – This film was closer in tone to the original than the successors were, with the light touch and emphasis on street racing. The sidekick was annoying and the characters pretty shallow; the storyline was pure 80s – going after a drug dealer with a great deal of goofiness. Nevertheless it was okay for a bit of fun; I liked the lots-of-cars scene and there were some Miami bikini girls here and there.
Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift – This movie was a significant departure from the others; it’s a coming-of-age story set in a foreign country; there’s low criminality and the stakes are purely personal. Once again there’s a bit of stupidity with Sung Kang’s character, and the Japanese is occasionally weird. I didn’t mind it, though I can imagine the movie would have irritated those looking for Vin Diesel’s brand of action.
Fast and Furious – Despite the confusing title this is the fourth movie, and it is a bit more serious. Things didn’t turn out so well for all the characters of the first movie, and this movie’s drug dealer kills one of the main characters. The action is a lot heavier with lots of bad guys in cars and an elaborate bad-guy-killing scene at the end. This is the most “action movie” of the four.