The Fast and the Furious franchise is ever-evolving. No movie is comparable to the series’ basic structure or to its excellently choreographed action. They’re loud and a little dumb, but they stay true to themselves with heart and bombastic action. To celebrate the ongoing saga that continues to pave the way for world peace, here is a ranking of the explosively lovable Fast family adventures.
8. The Fate of the Furious
BETRAYAL. It’s the foremost feeling of The Fate of the Furious. While the set pieces are all radically fun in their own vacuums, they don’t feel related to the progression of familial traits which the series previously kept at its thematic core. The few that do relate to the core of the series oddly enough feel like an ugly mirror of what the series is known for. Innocent bystanders are tossed into a whirlwind of chaotic self-driving cars, Jason Statham’s Deckard Shaw gets an unearned redemptive arc, and overall the film feels much meaner than its predecessors. It’s a well-crafted action movie from a technical standpoint, but for those who ironically or sincerely love the mumblings of “family,” Fate of the Furious stands as the worst of the franchise.
7. Fast & Furious
Often called the Iron Man 2 to the Fast and Furious franchise, I think that’s too polite. Fast & Furious is almost a necessary evil to pitch the series into overdrive with the next few installments. It’s not awful. It’s just boring as hell. Following his work on Tokyo Drift, Justin Lin doesn’t do anything memorable. FF doesn’t have anything except for cool car chases, a forgettable villain, and the fake-out death of Michelle Rodriguez. Hey, at least the other three Justin Lin entries kick unanimous ass.
6. 2 Fast 2 Furious
For comprehension of what happened in this installment, imagine if Miami Vice and Bad Boys had a baby. Eva Mendes shows up in a supporting role for some reason. Tyrese Gibson gets “hongry” and Ludacris gets a spotlight. It’s a pretty entertaining movie for how dumb it is. “EJECTO SEATO, CUZ!” I’m also totally on board with the idea of 2 Fast 2 Furious becoming more entertaining if you pretend Roman and Brian O’Conner are former gay lovers.
5. The Fast and the Furious
The one that started it all. The Point Break rip-off that was a hit at the box office. They stole DVD players and robbed truckers in California. I mean it’s a pretty good action movie. I’m having trouble coming to terms with this as the movie that started the second best superhero franchise. Yes, they’re totally superheroes now, and I love it.
4. Furious 7
Furious 7 had an uphill battle from the start: it was required to tie up loose ends from the franchise going back to Tokyo Drift nearly a decade prior. The deepest kind of tragedy struck when Paul Walker died before completing his work on the film, and his death looms over the production in a big way. The Fast series is at its core a story of family. To lose one of its most integral members will be felt long after this entry. To James Wan’s credit (on his first blockbuster no less) he not only contributes jaw-dropping action set pieces, but bids a classy farewell to a beloved series mainstay. It may not be the best constructed adventure of the series, but it is certainly the most poignant.
3. Fast 6
We haven’t had an Avengers vs the Masters of Evil battle in the MCU yet, but watching the FF crew face off against their evil counterparts comes pretty close. It’s not as tightly constructed as the next two choices on this list, but it boasts some of the best action in the series to date. No other movie has The Rock have a rapport with Ludacris as Vin Diesel tries to get Michelle Rodriguez’s memory back. Can you imagine how boring it would be if these movies still focused on street racing?
One of the things nobody mentions when they talk about these movies is how ethnically diverse the cast is. It only hit me during Fast 6 but the main crew has grown into the most diverse cast to headline a summer blockbuster. What a time to be alive.
2. The Fast and Furious: Tokyo Drift
Tokyo Drift might be the best in the series. It’s The Karate Kid with cars and Lil Bow Wow. It has an act structure, the racing tied in with the narrative, and gave us Han. Han is so cool, they re-routed the timeline for the next three movies to keep him around. Screw Superman rewinding time by flying around the planet; Justin Lin restructured a franchise! That’s a testament of love to the character.
Thankfully the movie also avoids giving us racist caricatures. If there’s any flaw with this one, it’s that I don’t think it showcases enough of Tokyo. But hey, it doesn’t fall into any cultural gimmicks at the expense of Japan.
1. Fast 5
There’s an argument to be made for Tokyo Drift as the best FF movie. I’m ranking Fast 5 higher because you can show it to anybody who loves movies and get them invested in this franchise. There’s history but you can get the gist of it just by paying attention.
Sequels should tell vastly different stories from their predecessors, and few go as drastic as Fast 5. What we have here is Ocean’s 11 with cars and a stereotypical South American drug lord. The final chase scene involves using a bank vault as a wrecking ball against the aforementioned drug lord. You need to see it to believe it, and you’ll probably love it.
Original ranking published in March 2015. Ranking updated on 4/19 to include The Fate of the Furious.
Featured Image: Universal Pictures