(SPOT.ph) Coinciding with its frankly unhinged titling conventions, the Fast and Furious series has rather been all over the place when it comes to film genre and franchise identity. The first couple of films focused on undercover cops, street racing, and a bit of homoeroticism (depending on who you asked). Since then, the franchise has dabbled in a high schooler fish-out-of-water story, Ocean’s Eleven-type bank heists, global superspies, and even introducing, in their own words, “Black Superman” at one point.
Despite the insane roads traveled, which have led the crew from Rio de Janeiro to Antarctica to literal outer space, the Fast and Furious franchise has remained steadfast in keeping “the family” at the heart of all its stories. This is perhaps why the series has long been a fan favorite and why it continues to retain audience loyalty, even with all its crazy developments.
With Fast X marking the 10th installment of the series and the beginning of its planned finale, we’ll be taking a look at the best the Fast family has to offer and the, let’s just say, misguided ventures the series has embarked on in the past 20 years. And because of “family,” we’ll of course be only focusing on the core series films, so… sorry, Hobbs and Shaw.
Here is SPOT.ph’s official ranking of the Fast and Furious movies from worst to best:
10. The Fate of the Furious (2017)
Landing at the bottom of the list is the eighth film, The Fate of the Furious. Despite that great—*ahem* “gr8”—pun in the title and the talent of Straight Outta Compton director F. Gary Gray behind the camera, F8 never comes to close capturing what made the series emotionally stimulating or engaging in the first place. It’s rather mean-spirited too, as it centers on the misguided premise that Vin Diesel’s Dominic Toretto has to act against the Family and brings back Elsa Pataky’s Elena just to deliver a baby then die for the sole purpose of feeding the main character’s man pain.
It just overall leaves a bad taste in the mouth, which should not have been the case in the first of the post-Furious 7 era of the franchise.
9. Fast and Furious (2009)
The fourth Fast and Furious film is interesting in that, for the longest time, it was widely considered to be the worst Fast film, yet it’s the film that directly preceded the Fast franchise’s “golden era” in film numbers five through seven.
There was a lot going in favor of F4; both Diesel and Paul Walker returning to the franchise, a whole new crew being introduced, Toretto and O’Connor solving the same case but on different sides of the law. However, the best you can describe the film is unremarkable. The film gets a bit messy killing off Michelle Rodriguez’s Letty, introducing all-new corners of the universe, while also tying together previous plotlines in the series. You’re barely given time to care about anything, but at least it cleared the series of its baggage ahead of Fast Five and the rest of the saga.
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8. The Fast and the Furious (2001)
At the eighth spot is the film that started it all, The Fast and the Furious. While the film is charmingly nostalgic—“I live my life a quarter mile at a time,” is an all-timer quote—it does feel a bit diminished in quality compared to how much bigger and wilder the later films in the series have gotten. You watch the film to reminisce about how far the series has come from street racers stealing DVDs and ripping off Point Break.
7. Fast X (2023)
The most recent installment of the franchise Fast X falls in the bottom half of the ranking because, while entertaining, it hardly reaches the magnificent heights of the series thus far. It reminded us of the fourth Fast and Furious film in that it’s messy and oftentimes staggered by having to align itself with what has come before. That being said, the franchise is better equipped now to still pull of an entertaining blockbuster despite this. You can’t mix together the likes of Jason Momoa, Charlize Theron, John Cena, Jason Statham, with Michelle Rodriguez and Tyrese Gibson and not expect us to have a good time. Maybe just pump the breaks on the “end of an era” self-seriousness if the series isn’t going to actually conclude for another two more films.
6. F9: The Fast Saga (2021)
Despite having one of the most gloriously stupid titles in the series, F9: The Fast Saga best exemplifies what is arguably one of the core tenants of the Fast franchise: if Justin Lin is on board to direct, you’re getting a rad film no matter what. F9 suffers from what the worst films in the series suffer from; bloated continuity and the burden of having to structure around the brand of racing and increasingly over-the-top action sequences.
However, Lin (the filmmaker behind half the series) has always harmonized with Diesel on the core aspect of family, which this film finds a unique approach to. The Godfather Part II-esque (yes, you read that correctly) flashback structure centered on the brotherly bond between Diesel and Cena’s characters truly saves this film from being a forgettable mess. Now, it’s an emotionally resonant mess… where a poorly hairstyled Theron delivers Star Wars quotes unironically. You just have to marvel at it.
5. 2 Fast 2 Furious (2003)
Speaking of “unironically,” we’re putting the exquisitely titled 2 Fast 2 Furious at the midpoint of this list precisely for how entertainingly dumb it is. The Shakespeare quote “Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing,” most aptly sumises the buddy cop film starring Walker and Tyrese. It’s got colorful neon cars, a rat torture sequence, and Walker genuinely saying, “I said forget about it, ‘cuh.” 2003 was a very different time.
4. Fast and Furious 6 (2013)
Fast and Furious 6, otherwise known as when the family became superheroes, is when most audiences truly got on board with the franchise’s wavelength and with what Diesel and Lin were cooking. It’s where the series literally soared to action blockbuster territory after the relatively grounded heist stakes of Fast Five. Diesel literally flies through the air to save his girlfriend, The Rock has to assemble a team to fight an “evil” version of themselves, Toretto activates detective vision mode to solve a years-old crime scene, and the climax takes place on the longest runway known to man. If you were on board with all this insanity while somehow also being emotionally stirred by the—now signature—“I don’t got friends, I got family,” line, then safe to say this franchise was for you.
3. The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift (2006)
To date, Tokyo Drift is objectively the most out of place Fast and Furious film. The third film in the series did not center on either of its main stars, Diesel or Walker, and, instead, shifts focus to some high schooler from Alabama who is forced to move to Japan, where he learns drifting and takes on the literal head of the Yakuza. It was Lin’s first stab at the Fast universe, wherein he got to truly show off how an eye for kinetic action and charismatic characters can turn a less showy film into something special. If anything, the series as it is currently could benefit from these offshoot stories that don’t revolve around super spies or global stakes.
2. Furious 7 (2015)
These next two films on the list could go back and forth for the title of “best Fast and Furious movie,” but we’re settling on Furious 7 taking the number-two spot. There’s so much to love about Furious 7; well-known horror director James Wan bringing his electric sensibilities to the Fast universe, the action sequences varying from car chases through buildings to vehicle skydiving to fluid hand-to-hand combat, and—of course—the respectful and tearful tribute to Paul Walker.
The only knock against it would be that the pacing is often clunky and the film as a whole feels disjointed, but it’s completely understandable given the reshoots that had to be done in the wake of Walker’s untimely passing. In any case, it’s easily the “most” Fast and Furious a Fast and Furious film can be, and the crew does all its individual components fantastically.
1. Fast Five (2011)
If Furious 7 is the “most” Fast and Furious film, Fast Five takes the gold as the “best” Fast and Furious film. The fifth film in the series takes all of the best elements established in the franchise at that point (street racing, car action, cast chemistry) and integrates it into a tight heist film. They even threw in The Rock as the film’s star antagonist for good muscular men measure. The result was a film that transcended what the series had been thus far and showed audiences the limitless possibilities of what the “car series” could be. If anything, we’re game for the series to not end if it’s able to redefine itself again like it did with Fast Five a decade ago.
Fast X is currently showing in cinemas. F9 is streaming on Netflix. The rest of the Fast and Furious movies are streaming on HBO Go.