In 2001, Universal Pictures released The Fast and the Furious, the story of a gang of thieves and street racers infiltrated by a car-loving police officer.
Two decades later, the franchise has spawned eight sequels, a spinoff series of movies, a children's animated series, and a theme park attraction, to name a few. With such a long-running series, there are bound to be hits and misses, so with that; we have ranked each of the films from the Fast Saga.
Every Fast and Furious Movie Ranked
Honorable Mention: Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs and Shaw
Although it was one of the major tentpoles of summer 2019, and although it stars series staples Luke Hobbs (Dwayne' The Rock' Johnson) and Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham), Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs and Shaw is technically classified as a spinoff of the main series, and doesn't count for this ranking.
That said, it still features the hallmarks of every F&F movie, including wild, expensive-looking chase scenes, far-off locales, and even family, with Vanessa Kirby joining the cast as Shaw's sister Hattie.
9. Furious 7
Furious 7, the seventh movie in the series, had to perform several thankless tasks at once. After the sixth film wrapped up the story of the Toretto/O'Connor family very neatly, Furious 7 arrived to throw a wrench into everything. Building off of the tag of Fast & Furious 6, the gang finds out that Deckard Shaw was responsible for the death of their friend Han during the events of Tokyo Drift. Not only that, but the man is out for revenge.
This is where the series really starts to crank up from street-racing into the spy-action-thriller territory, where the team's budget increases just as exponentially as the film's budget. In disturbing the hard-won peace, Furious 7 spends too much time trying to justify its existence, making the story lag, and it's simply trying to do too much in a limited time frame.
Then, of course, there is Brian O'Connor (Paul Walker). Walker passed away during the filming of Furious 7, meaning the plot had to scramble to give him a proper—and definitive—sendoff. It was always going to be bittersweet for that alone, and the grief of co-star Vin Diesel can be especially felt, particularly in Dominic Toretto's parting comments to Brian, which are almost certainly directed at Walker. It's not that the love or effort have disappeared from the series, not at all. It just suffers from doing way too much.
The longest of all the Fast & Furious movies at just under 2.5 hours, F9 is much like Furious 7 in that it spends its lengthy runtime trying to do everything all at once. Except for Hobbs and Shaw, who got their own spinoff, everyone of importance from the earlier films appears here.
Though it suffers many of the same faults as Furious 7, it squeaks past it in the rankings not only for the sheer audacity of sending two men to space in a car, but because somehow this late in the game, it manages to up the emotional stakes, and not just the explosive ones.
John Cena joins the cast as Dom's younger brother Jakob, and the two of them spend most of the film at odds over unresolved grief surrounding the death of their father. The story of his death, as Dom once told it to Brian, is played out in full here, alongside a series of other flashbacks that fill in the early lives of the Toretto brothers.
It's obvious the cast is still grieving the loss of Paul Walker, particularly since the story reintroduces his wife and Dom's sister Mia (Jordana Brewster). Still, the way Brian is referenced is jarring. Though the actor has passed, the character is still very much alive but is constantly spoken about as though he isn't.
7. The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift
Aesthetically, The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift is the most beautiful of all the movies. The bright neon vibe present throughout the movie is such a stark contrast to the wilderness or sun-drenched cityscapes of the other movies. However, Tokyo Drift also contains so many strange story choices; it almost takes the viewer right out of it.
Why, for instance, is Sean Boswell (Lucas Black) being sent to a Japanese high school immediately on arrival in Tokyo when it's clear the boy does not speak a word of Japanese? There might have been an interesting angle in the idea of wealthy, bratty ex-pat kids causing trouble in a foreign country, mingling with the similarly wealthy and bratty local teenagers.
Tokyo Drift also suffers in the overall ranking because of how removed it is from the rest of the series. Yes, Sean and two of his friends reappear in F9, but because this wasn't the first of several racing movies removed from the Toretto family, it inevitably feels like the odd one out. The one thing keeping it from feeling totally removed is the presence of Han Lue (Sung Kang), a street racer who, it turns out, has ties to our gang back in the states.
As fantastic an addition as Han is to the cast, his presence messes up the timeline. Han appears to die in a car crash towards the end of the film but reappears in the fourth film in the series until things come full circle with his car crash again at the end of the sixth. This means we now have a man in at least his late thirties racing a bunch of teenagers, who are all, by this point, using woefully outdated tech. But then, some things in the F&F franchise work better if you just don't think about it too hard.
6. Fast & Furious
A return to form for the series Fast & Furious, the fourth film, reunites the core cast for the first time since The Fast and the Furious kicked things off.
At the start of the movie, Dom's love interest Letty Ortiz (Michelle Rodriguez) appears to be “fridged“—when a female character is killed to serve the male character's plot. If this had been the case, Fast & Furious would have suffered in the ranking, but because it does later become clear that she isn't actually dead, this can be overlooked as part of a larger character arc.
Fast & Furious manages to recapture the smaller, more intimate feel of The Fast and the Furious and is the last time the series actually does this before exploding into big-budget action with Fast Five. Character beats that were set up in the first film pay off, and Brian and Mia's romance comes full circle. On top of that, it integrates Han with the main crew and introduces the new, central character of Gisele (Gal Gadot) as well.
The best way to describe Fast & Furious is as the inhale, the calm before the absolute high-octane storm that starts raining on both the characters and the audience with Fast Five. The plot is not the most gripping, it's fairly run of the mill, but there is something to be said for remembering the roots of what makes these stories click with people.
5. 2 Fast 2 Furious
2 Fast 2 Furious, hilarious name aside, is another anomaly in the series. Though it does center around Brian O'Connor, he is the only character from the first movie to appear in the sequel. The scale and the spirit of the story are very much in line with the first, despite the near-total absence of recognizable characters—although Roman (Tyrese Gibson) and Tej (Chris “Ludacris” Bridges) become series mainstays later.
Though it seems strange to rate a movie so highly based exclusively on “vibes,” that's exactly the power that 2 Fast 2 Furious has. The primary antagonist is a wealthy crime boss in Miami, and the sun-dappled luxury is so peak 2003 that the movie has a very nostalgic quality to it.
Adding to the nostalgia factor is the presence of Eva Mendes, playing an undercover agent who may or may not be in too deep with crime boss Carter Verone. It's also a shame that Mendes never returned to the series because her turn as the morally ambiguous Monica Fuentes was fantastic and would have been just the thing to keep the team on their toes.
4. Fast & Furious 6
Though the series obviously continued on afterward, Fast & Furious 6 acts like a very satisfying conclusion to the story overall, were it not for the tag right at the very end revealing that Deckard Shaw is responsible for Han's death (which, according to F9 was also faked, since Han appears in that one, alive and well).
Because by this point, the audience has spent a lot of time with these characters and has become invested in their stories, Fast & Furious 6 ups the emotional ante by threatening not just the characters but putting everything they've worked to build in jeopardy too. Brian and Mia's family is growing despite the threats that constantly surround them. Han and Gisele are eager to leave everything behind and start a life together somewhere fresh. And then there's Dom and Letty.
Despite moving on and finding happiness with Elena (Elsa Pataky), Dom is shaken by the news that Letty is still alive and working with antagonist Owen Shaw (Luke Evans). His driving motivation then becomes not tangible but rather the love he still has for Letty. Sure, it plays into the soap opera amnesia stereotype, but this far into a series that is still so earnestly devoted to its central romances, it can be forgiven. Even encouraged. There are only so many ways to race a car, after all.
3. Fast Five
Fast Five feels like the movie the team set out to make with the absolute certainty that this would be the last one they ever got to do. Couples are happily established, everyone is made fantastically wealthy by the end, and the film ends on a happy, contented note. It's only a mid-credits scene—featuring a returning Eva Mendes, though it barely counts as a return for her character—where the audience learns that Letty is still alive, which sets up a continuation to the series.
But Fast Five is also the movie that sets the tone for what the future of these movies looks like. It's the first appearance of Luke Hobbs, the DSS agent, and it's also the first time the team is assembled at the behest of a very well-funded government agency for a top-secret mission with global consequences. More so than the others, this one feels a lot like a heist film in the vein of Ocean's Eleven. The montage of them “putting a team together” is a perfect example of this.
This is also the first time that the core heist team is really seen working together, so while it is still the fifth movie in the overall series, it feels in a way like the first installment in a whole new franchise and was the perfect way to breathe some fresh air into the Fast & Furious world.
2. The Fast and the Furious
The very first movie. The one that started it all. The story of a cop and a criminal who found brotherhood and family in the world of Los Angeles street racing. The story of a doomed (for now) romance. It's easy to forget when seeing the wild turns the series took, just how small everything started out.
It's been two decades since The Fast and the Furious hit theatres, and the movie feels almost like a time capsule full of low-rise jeans, flat-ironed hair, Von Dutch shirts, and frosted tips. The crime that Brian is trying to pin on Dom involves the theft of DVD players. That's right, DVD players.
The scope of the story is very small. Not a whole lot happens. But it's still unbelievably cozy, nostalgic, and romantic all in one. While some of the viewpoints expressed and the language used didn't exactly age well, it's to the series overall credit that as times changed, so did the content. They allowed the story and characters to grow. But even without that added context, The Fast and the Furious holds up as a well-told, self-contained story that is extremely earnest in the message and sentiment it tries to convey.
1. The Fate of the Furious
Of all of the Fast & Furious movies, the eighth one, The Fate of the Furious, is the best. This is because it is entirely unashamed to be all things to all people, and by some miracle, it pulls it off in spectacular fashion.
After several movies of always doing the right thing and standing on the side of the moral right, if not the legal one, The Fate of the Furious has Dom Toretto going rogue. But of course, it's not for no reason. It's because criminal mastermind Cipher (Charlize Theron) has taken his former lover Elena hostage and Elena's son with Dom. The son he didn't realize he had. Back once again to those soap opera plot points, but it just works so well. There is not a trace of irony in that plot point, nor in Letty's determination to get her husband back after they were finally starting to actually find some semblance of normal.
The Fate of the Furious puts every character into possibly the most difficult position they've ever been in. The personal stakes run very high. It's become a meme at this point to say that these movies are about family but remove that from the equation, and the whole thing falls apart. More so than the others, The Fate of the Furious makes the characters face what it is to be a family—through marriage, blood, or found family—and fight that much harder to keep it.
All franchises change over time; that's only natural, and keeping things stale is the easiest way for people to lose interest. But the most audacious thing the Fast Saga manages to do is to take the simple premise of the first movie and build on it in such a natural way that by the time they are literally going to space in a rocket car, the audience doesn't notice it's actually quite a shift in tone. With a tenth two-part film on the horizon, at this point, it's any guess where Dom Toretto and his gang are going next.
Arezou Amin is a freelance writer with a lifelong love of Star Wars, romance, fantasy, and all things pop culture. She is the host of Space Waffles, a Star Wars-focused podcast on the Geeky Waffle network, where she also co-hosts the flagship show and writes reviews and recaps for the site.