I'm currently going through this series on blu, having never seen any of them in the theater or on SDVD previously. I think this would be an awesome "Franchise Me!" series - and if Nick & Co. agreed, I'd be willing to take a shot.
The first film surprised me, in a good way. Given the parameters - it's a fairly mindless action film, meant for pure entertainment - I think it hits on all cylinders, to use an obvious metaphor. Walker can't act his way out of a paper bag, but Diesel has charisma to spare, and the film never lets up. And it's a testament to the series that I normally hate anything to do with car culture - I consider NASCAR an embarrassing blight upon human history - yet I find this films eminently watchable.
The second film, as noted above and in other threads, is hilariously bad. I mean, it's awful, but I loved it. It's one brofist away from gay porn, despite the lovely Eva Mendes gracing its visuals. It's without any pretensions, almost like the car culture version of some of Elvis's movies. It knows it's fluff and runs with it.
TOKYO DRIFT I found pretty unbearable, and most of that was the lead. I found Lucas' accent a weird combination of wholly genuine and gratingly fake. He also makes Paul Walker look like Olivier. The film also suffers from the GREASE syndrome: 20- and 30-somethings unconvincingly cast as teenagers (I don't understand why Hollywood keeps doing this). I guess it's folly to ask a FAST & FURIOUS film to have any connection to reality, but when the lead guy is supposed to be 17 and looks 33, any suspension of disbelief is pretty much gone. The female lead is also a classic case of someone who looks amazingly hot and then ruins everything when she speaks.
Watched the fourth one last night, and it was a big relief to have Diesel and Walker back. The story was a bit grim and serious for the series, but it worked: I was entertained, didn't feel cheated, and was impressed (mostly) with the chases and visuals. The two chase scenes through the tunnels jumped over to the uncanny valley, but I rolled with it.
Looking forward to FAST FIVE - from what I'm reading, the best of the series.
I'd rate them thusly:
1. THE FAST & THE FURIOUS
2. 2 FAST
3. FAST & FURIOUS
4. TOKYO DRIFT