The Fast and the Furious franchise seems to just keep going from strength to strength. What began as a middling B-movie about illegal street racing has grown into a series of action-packed spectacles about mercenaries who travel the world and kick ass that has surpassed the likes of Mission: Impossible and Transformers to become the top grossing action movie franchise in the world. Every time they come out with a new movie, no matter how absurd it is in its execution, it will gross $1 billion at the global box office faster than you can snap your fingers. They make absurd money for an action movie franchise and that’s why they’ll never die. There have been eight Fast and the Furious movies so far – here are all of them, ranked from worst to best!
8. The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift
It is pretty much a given that any Fast and the Furious movie that doesn’t have Vin Diesel in it is going to suck, or at least it won’t be as good as the ones that he is in. He’s the glue that holds it all together. He’s the only one who’s committed enough to his role elevate these movies above fast cars and throbbing muscles and wide shots of exotic locations and lazily written banter to give them some actual substance and humanity. But without him, they can still pass for entertainment if the action is exciting and the stakes are high enough. Unfortunately, in Tokyo Drift, it all falls flat. The movie is just kind of a dud, which is a shame, because the $85 million production budget was spent well. All the tools were there. Just somehow, the way it was shot and the way it was editing removed any soul or excitement from what could have been a passable action movie. And what sets Tokyo Drift apart from the other Diesel-less movies in the franchise is that they couldn’t even get Paul Walker to come back. There was no Vin Diesel and no Paul Walker – ergo, there was no Fast and Furious movie, really. The movie has no narrative, no character development, no drama, no comedy – nothing (pardon the pun) driving it. It’s no surprise that it was the lowest grossing entry in the series.
7. The Fast and the Furious
The Fast and the Furious gets extra points for starting it all. This was the movie that introduced the world to Dom Toretto and Brian O’Conner, two characters whose brotherly love for one another would keep audiences coming back for years and years, doling out hundreds of millions of dollars to see their latest adventures. It’s taken as a given these days that those two characters are best friends who would happily die for each other. But that’s not the case in the first movie. At the beginning of this movie, those two guys are adversaries who hate each other. So, this movie did a good job of setting up their friendship. Still, at the end of the day, the premise of an undercover cop who infiltrates a gang to bring down a criminal and ends up loving that criminal so much that he can’t bear to turn him in is a pretty shameless rip-off of Point Break, with surfing swapped for illegal street racing. And this movie itself was not all that great. It may have set up a beloved franchise, and it deserves credit for that, but as a movie in and of itself, it’s kind of mediocre.
6. 2 Fast 2 Furious
For the first sequel of the franchise, Vin Diesel decided to jump ship, so the duo at the heart of the series and their brotherhood and companionship was gone (temporarily, of course), but 2 Fast 2 Furious is also a pretty good action movie in its own right. And it still had Paul Walker, so there was that to keep viewers around. It was directed by the great John Singleton, who has a strong command of every movie for which he gets behind the camera. His first feature film was Boyz n the Hood, which is one of the best hood movies of all time. He captured the urban realities of that movie’s setting and culture by drawing on his own experiences from growing up in the South Central area of Los Angeles. That’s what he did when he took the reins of The Fast and the Furious franchise – where he grew up, they were having illegal street races all the time, so he knew that culture and the people who follow it. Plus, what helped this movie was moving outside the confines of the street racing world and creating a plot about the investigation into a Miami drug lord.
5. Fast & Furious
This is the one that brought it all back around. The Fast and the Furious set up the relationship of Dom Toretto and Brian O’Conner, then 2 Fast 2 Furious fleshed out Brian’s character even if Dom was missing, and then Tokyo Drift just screwed everything up by having neither of them. The whole franchise seemed to be swirling further and further down the toilet. It was in a downward spiral that it didn’t seem like it could be saved from. But then it got a kind of semi-reboot in the form of Fast & Furious, a fast paced, pedal to the metal action thriller that brought back Dom and brought back Brian and gave birth to the franchise as we know it today. Now, we know it as a bunch of big budget action movies that have ridiculous and extravagant set pieces and all the characters pulling together as a kind of surrogate ‘family.’ This was the first one that fit that bill. The critics weren’t too kind to the fourth Fast and the Furious movie, but devotees of the franchise love it. It has fast cars and hot girls and big, spectacular action sequences and the character dynamics are tested. Plus, it actually brought all of those characters back.
4. Furious 7
The enjoyment of this movie is boosted by the fact that it’s a tribute to Paul Walker, who tragically died during its production. The outpouring of fan support and the way that everyone came together to remember him was quite inspiring. But the movie itself is not too great. It starts off promising, but then lags in the middle with some meandering plot points that could have been cut and overall, the film is just way too long. Plus, the action scenes like jumping a car from the top floor of one skyscraper into the second to top floor of another skyscraper or Dwayne Johnson discharging himself from hospital and flexing off his cast are just too stupid to be entertaining. There are some scenes involving Paul Walker that are choppily edited together that look a bit jarring and other times when you can tell it’s Walker’s brother, but you can forgive them for that. We all know what happened and we’ll happily give them the benefit of the doubt. They did the best that they could and Walker’s family pitched in to give his character the ending that he deserved. The whole climactic sequence was clearly very expensive to put together, but it seems like director James Wan had given up at that point and was just phoning it in, exhausted by his first mega budget blockbuster movie, because the whole thing is soulless, shot by the numbers, and falls completely flat, killing the movie dead in its tracks. But then it ends with a touching send-off for Walker and redeems the whole thing.
3. Fast & Furious 6
After the team took their high flying adventures to Rio de Janeiro in the fifth movie, there was an expectation for the sixth one to take us somewhere exciting, too, and they did! The team’s visit to London is one of their most exhilarating. There was that low to ground car, all the different streets to speed around, and that cameo appearance by Rita Ora. The Fast and the Furious franchise handled a trip to London better than Friends did! If there’s one problem with the Fast & Furious movies, it’s that they don’t have memorable villains. They’re just random guys who mean to do evil. But in this case, the villain Owen Shaw made himself known as an ominous presence. He’s like the Governor of the Fast & Furious franchise. The big climactic action sequence set on the runway with the plane that seems to go on for like a hundred thousand miles before taking off may be a tad unbelievable, but that scene is thrilling and it’s shot in creative ways that keep the viewers engaged. There’s heart and tragedy in the moment where Gisele sacrifices herself to save Han. Moments like this are what keep the more ridiculous set pieces from the Fast & Furious movies grounded. On the whole, ending with one of the biggest, baddest climactic action set pieces of all time, Fast & Furious 6 is an awesome entry in an awesome franchise.
2. The Fate of the Furious
When the trailer for The Fate of the Furious was first released, it seemed like the franchise had finally lost it. Dom was turning against his beloved ‘family’ to become the bad guy and every car in New York was being remotely controlled by a megalomaniac played by Charlize Theron and Dwayne Johnson was sliding across the Arctic ice and manhandling a missile. It seemed to be ridiculous to a point that was too ridiculous even for the audiences who enjoyed all the ridiculous stuff that came before. But then the movie came out and everything that seemed out of character ended up making sense and everything that seemed to be too stupid just swept you up and the whole thing pulled together as a big, epic, ludicrous, awesome movie with a lot of heart and humor and excitement. There are very few franchises that can come out with something this spectacular and fantastic and entertaining and watchable with its eighth installment. There was a lot of expectations surrounding this movie, too, what with it being the first without Paul Walker following his tragic death, and many agreed that the film handled the situation respectfully by not making any excuses or references to his character. He was an important part of the franchise’s DNA, but with the proper conclusion for his character and a strong story without him, this movie showed that the movies could still flourish in a world that had lost him.
1. Fast Five
With all of its shootouts and car chases and fist fights and extreme stunts (i.e. jumping a car into a quarry or having a foot chase across the favelas of Rio), 2011’s Fast Five is a prime example of just how much fun a trip to the movies can be. It set the benchmark for all the other Fast and Furious movies to come, and so far, none of them have been able to top it. It the perfect balance of absurd yet entertaining action, gripping storytelling, and the sense of ‘family’ that permeates throughout the whole franchise and can often get a little tiresome or excessive. A fantastic addition here is the ever dedicated Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, who boosted the franchise (and probably himself) with an injection of steroids, with the character of Luke Hobbs, an adversary of the group who will later become a close ally. On the whole, Fast Five is genuinely one of the best action movies of the 21st century so far. There are big action set pieces that walk that line between buyable and preposterous like none of the sequels that followed it managed to. The shootouts were gritty and dirty and raw and realistic. The plot development is actually strong and you can actually follow a narrative of the planning and execution of a heist. It’s real. It’s great. It’s definitely the best movie in the franchise, no questions asked.