By next April, the world will be one Fast and Furious movie richer. Richer in explosions. In expensive cars doing stunts. In A-list Hollywood actors. In hugely jacked men fighting. But it wasn’t always this way.
Like the rest of the series, the Fast and Furious trailers started out small and grew to the stunt-ridden behemoths they are today. How did we get from stealing DVD players in blacked-out Honda Civics to outrunning a sub on a frozen ocean? Perhaps the trailers can lead the way, and show the cinematic odyssey we’ve embarked upon over the past two decades.
But as we all know, a shiny trailer doesn’t always make us want to go see the movie. Do the rest of the trailers accomplish a trailer’s primary purpose of getting people to the theater? I decided to rank them based on how much they made me want to see the movie. Here’s what I came up with, from worst to best.
8. Fast & Furious - April 3, 2009
I found this to be the least enticing trailer of them all. It’s clear that Paul Walker & Co. are back after the series’ Tokyo Drift hiatus. But beyond that, I saw nothing particularly inspiring about the footage from this trailer, except for Dom’s stunt at the end involving the oil tanker careening towards them.
Also, the name is confusing. The first film was called The Fast and the Furious. This one, the fourth one, is Fast & Furious. That ampersand isn’t enough to differentiate the two. It’s not.
7. Fast & Furious 6 - May 24, 2013
The trailer for the also annoyingly named Fast & Furious 6 was indistinguishable from pretty much every other action movie. I saw it because it’s a Fast and Furious movie, because oh, shit Letty is back and because I remember being exasperated that a sixth installment was even coming out. I thought the series should have ended with Fast Five, so it was a bit of masochistic curiosity that led me to this film.
Not the trailer.
6. 2 Fast 2 Furious - June 6, 2003
This is a trailer that is certainly for people who saw the first film. Because if you didn’t, many of the scenes you see in this trailer seem very random. Paul Walker’s face is familiar and so is the street racing scene. Conspicuously absent is the hulking figure of Vin Diesel—this is the only Fast and Furious film where Toretto does not make an appearance.
I think perhaps the worst crime that this trailer commits is how unremarkable it is: unremarkable one-liners and unremarkable action scenes. In fact, the whole trailer is rather forgettable after you get over the multi-colored fire shooting out of the tailpipes of the cars. That was a neat trick.
5. Furious 7 - April 3, 2015
Starting out very strong indeed, this trailer succeeded in giving me that dropping feeling in my stomach when they first drive out of the plane. In fact, the first half of the Furious 7 trailer is just one, breathless action sequence, which I liked. I found this to be far more compelling than snatches from various other action sequences sutured together.
Also, I hold this trailer in a special place in my heart because news of Paul Walker’s death broke before this went live, so this trailer and subsequent film more or less became a tribute to him.
4. The Fate of the Furious - April 14, 2017
Is that a wrecking ball? Oh, shit: Furiosa’s here. Why are you shifting an automatic car? Dom is bad? How did that crash happen? A tank and a Lamborghini, nice. Where are the bu—ah, there they are, the dancing butts. Why is everything exploding? Aaand that’s a submarine. They are being chased by a submarine. Sure. Fine. Okay.
As far as movie trailers go, this one was pretty over the top. As far as Fast and Furious trailers go, this one was the most insane one yet. Not surprising, when you consider that the name of the game is now to outdo the previous film rather than really further the “plot” along (and I use the word “plot” very loosely, as it seems like the plot is the only thing that’s keeping all of the explosions from happening at once these days.)
Plot aside, I can’t help but think back to the very first Fast and Furious trailers. To when the franchise had less to prove. I’m not knocking Fate at all—I will definitely be giddy when I go and see it. But held against the Fate trailer, the previous trailers seem positively modest.
Does the Fate trailer make me want to go see the movie? Of course. But I wonder if it will be a Fast and Furious movie at all.
3. The Fast and the Furious - June 18, 2001
The OG film, where everything started. They had a job of introducing you to the street racing world in this trailer, flashing all the main characters across the screen for you to pick up on. The cars had garish paint jobs and underglow. Underglow!
The extent of the stunts here were cars driving on open stretches of roads, sometimes leaping, and people punching each other. Excellent meat and potato stuff. Street racing is the primary focus of these movies, street racing and gangs. Throw some romance in there and you’ve got a movie that looks like it will be solid from start to finish. And it was.
2. Fast Five - April 29, 2011
This is the one where you watch it and go, to yourself, Oh, shit! It’s The Rock!
That was the point where I knew that the films had legitimately and officially crossed into the big Hollywood action blockbuster plane. And it had everybody in it: Han, Tej and Gisele. Together. Which meant that serious shit was going to go down and this was something that you didn’t want to miss. Hell yeah, I was going to go see it.
1. The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift - June 16, 2006
From the iconic first notes of “Tokyo Drift (Fast & Furious)“ by Teriyaki Boyz, this trailer had you hooked. The film looked like a break from the LA street races and transported you, instead, to the faraway land of Japan and introduced you to a new type of driving.
It was clear that the film would fully embrace Japanese tuner culture—and in its country of origin, too! It clearly captured the charm of the first Fast and Furious trailer in its way of introducing the scene and mixing equal parts of action, conflict and romance into the two-minute clip.
And let me tell you something else: watching the Tokyo Drift trailer just now made me want to go home and watch the movie again. Which I’ve watched, like, four times already this year. I’d say that’s a mission accomplished.