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 nine 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 we have ranked each of the films related to all things fast and furious.
1. The Fate of the Furious (2017)
Of all the Fast & Furious movies, the eighth one, The Fate of the Furious, stands above the rest. By some miracle, it manages to be all things to all people 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. The criminal mastermind Cipher (Charlize Theron) has taken his former lover Elena hostage and Elena's son with Dom. It's soapy, but it just works so well.
The Fate of the Furious puts every character in a difficult position. The personal stakes run very high. Fans argue 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 the reality of being a family—through marriage, blood, or found family—and fight that much harder to keep it.
2. The Fast and the Furious (2001)
The one that started it all: a 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. Seeing the wild turns the series took, audiences have a hard time recalling just how small everything started out.
Two decades since The Fast and the Furious hit theatres, the movie feels almost like a time capsule full of low-rise jeans, flat-ironed hair, Von Dutch shirts, and frosted tips. Brian tries to pin the theft of DVD players on Dom. That's right, DVD players.
The OG movie has a small scope. Not a whole lot happens. But it feels unbelievably cozy, nostalgic, and romantic all in one. While some of the viewpoints expressed and the language used didn't exactly age well, the series' deserves credit for changing with the times. 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, earnest in the message and sentiment it tries to convey.
3. Fast Five (2011)
Fast Five feels like the movie the team set out to make with the absolute certainty it would mark the end of the series. Couples get established, everyone gets wealthy by the end, and the film ends on a happy, contented note. 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 sets up a continuation of the series.
But Fast Five sets the tone for the future of these movies. It marks the first appearance of Luke Hobbs, the DSS agent, and also the first time the team assembles 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 like a heist film in the vein of Ocean's Eleven.
This outing also marks the first time that the core heist team works together, it feels like the first installment in a whole new franchise. It breathes some fresh air into the Fast & Furious world.
4. Fast & Furious 6 (2013)
Though the series continued on afterward, Fast & Furious 6 acts like a very satisfying conclusion to the story overall, save 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 the characters and putting everything they've worked to build in jeopardy. Brian and Mia's family continues to grow despite the threats that constantly surround them. Han and Gisele want 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), the news that Letty is still alive and working with antagonist Owen Shaw (Luke Evans) rattles Dom. His driving motivation then becomes the love he still has for Letty. Sure, it plays into the soap opera amnesia cliche, but this far into a series still so devoted to its central romances, viewers can forgive.
5. 2 Fast 2 Furious (2003)
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 fall 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 testifies to the power that 2 Fast 2 Furious has. The primary antagonist is a wealthy crime boss in Miami, and the sun-dappled luxury feels so peak-2003 that the movie has a very nostalgic quality.
Eva Mendes adds to the nostalgia, 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 she gave a great turn as the morally ambiguous Monica Fuentes kept the team on their toes.
6. Fast & Furious (2009)
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 have gotten “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 didn't die, the plot point feels like part of a larger character arc.
Fast & Furious manages to recapture the smaller, more intimate feel of The Fast and the Furious one last time before exploding into big-budget action with Fast Five. Character beats 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.
Fast & Furious feels like an inhale, the calm before the absolute high-octane storm that starts raining on both the characters and the audience with Fast Five. It doesn't have the most gripping plot, but remembering the roots of what makes these stories click with people feels good.
7. The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift (2006)
The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift looks the most beautiful of all the movies. The bright neon vibe throughout the movie strikes 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 out of it.
Why, for instance, does Sean Boswell (Lucas Black) go to a Japanese high school immediately on arrival in Tokyo when he does not speak a word of Japanese?
Tokyo Drift also suffers in the overall ranking because of how removed it feels 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 presence of Han Lue (Sung Kang), a street racer who, it turns out, has ties to our gang back in the states, at least provides a connection to the other films.
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. Then things come full circle with his car crash again at the end of the sixth movie. So, a man in at least his late thirties races a bunch of teenagers who all, by this point, use woefully outdated tech? Don't think too hard.
8. F9 (2021)
The longest of all the Fast & Furious movies at just under 2.5 hours, F9 plays 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.
John Cena joins the cast as Dom's younger brother Jakob, and the two 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, plays 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 still grieves the loss of Paul Walker, particularly since the story reintroduces his wife and Dom's sister Mia (Jordana Brewster). Still, the way the movie references Brian feels jarring. Though the actor has passed, the character lives on, but other characters constantly speak about him as though he died.
9. Furious 7 (2015)
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, 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 claims responsibility for the death of their friend Han during the events of Tokyo Drift. And Shaw wants revenge.
Here, the series starts to crank up from street-racing into spy-action-thriller territory, where the team's budget increases along with 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 as it tries 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. For that reason alone, the film would have always tasted bittersweet. The grief of co-star Vin Diesel also hits hard, particularly in Dominic Toretto's parting comments to Brian, which, in a meta sense, feel directed at Walker.
10. Fast X (2023)
The most recent Fast and Furious sequel makes the bottom of the list. After facing off against his brother Jakob (John Cena), Dom (Vin Diesel) and the rest of his family wind up in the crosshairs of Dante (Jason Momoa). Dante lost his father, drug kingpin Hernan Reyes, in the climax of Fast and Furious 6, and he's out for blood.
Most jokes fall flat, and the shoddy dialogue does no favors to the film. However, with phenomenal action and Jason Momoa as the villain, Fast X ups the ante, keeping the frenetic energy and chatter about family flowing. Momoa plays it campy, leaning into humor, but his delivery works. On top of that, viewers get to see the long-awaited confrontation between Shaw (Jason Statham) and Han (Sung Kang) teased in F9.
Fans of the series want to take advantage of this, especially as Fast X is the first in a three-part trilogy end to the series.
Honorable Mention: Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs and Shaw (2019)
Although Universal released it as 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 qualifies 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.
Honorable Mention: Los Bandaleros (2009)
Similarly difficult to rank among the other Fast & Furious films is the Vin Diesel-written and directed short Los Bandaleros, which serves as a prequel to 2009's Fast & Furious. The short shows some of Dom's life and the community he's joined in the Dominican Republic, where he hides out, and the first steps of the fuel-tanker heist that opens the feature film.
The twenty-minute short plays more as a slice-of-life film than an action movie. It feels like something special in the Fast series because of that. The short includes significant plot points, mostly about how Dom joined up with several of the crew members in Fast & Furious, but more than anything, it develops those crew members as characters.
Honorable Mention: Turbo Charged Prelude (2003)
Before Los Bandaleros connected some dots between previous features and Fast & Furious, the Turbo Charged Prelude (full title: The Turbo Charged Prelude for 2 Fast 2 Furious) helped viewers draw the line between the Los Angeles setting of the first film and the Miami set 2 Fast 2 Furious. The short, which features no dialogue, shows Brian's journey as he attempts to evade the law and make money by racing and working on cars while drawing a line on a map of the U.S. to show his trajectory.
Brian repeatedly encounters the same woman, credited only as “The Girl” (Minka Kelly), who helps him get away when the police find his car. But for the most part, Turbo Charged Prelude feels like a six-minute hit reel of stylish cars, beautiful women, and cool music. Only die-hard fans need check it out.