The Fast and Furious films are a fascinating franchise in Hollywood history. What began as a fairly simple Point Break redux that swapped sexy surfers for sexy street racers has since evolved into a multi-billion box office powerhouse that’s as driven by its earnest themes of loyalty as it is bullets, babes, and brawn. Over the years, the franchise has passed through the hands of many filmmakers with an amorphous, ever-fluctuating cast, leading to a series of films that often feel detached and tonally disparate from each other, yet somehow undeniably part of the same organism.
Twenty years and ten films later, Fast and Furious continues to evolve every step of the way, be it through the creative influences of different filmmakers or how the tragic real-life death of Paul Walker reshaped the family, the Fast franchise has continued to grow and change, without losing the core of what makes it such an enduring staple at the theater. That fluidity has allowed for a lot of highs and lows over the years, while also revealing a fascinating sort of microcosm of how filmmaking has changed over the last two decades. The mid-budget success has transformed into a massive-budget tentpole spectacle, stacked with star power, creating something akin to a somewhat contained cinematic universe along the way.
We’re taking a look back at what worked and what didn’t on the wild ride of the Furious films so far, so crack open a Corona and check out the full list of Fast and Furious films ranked from worst to best.
11. 2 Fast 2 Furious (2003)
Even for a passionate lover of the Fast and Furious films, there’s just not a whole lot to love about 2 Fast 2 Furious. John Singleton‘s egregiously (but iconically) titled sequel arrived two years after the release of The Fast and The Furious with a clear intent to mimic the beats of the original while doubling down on the action.
This is the only non-spinoff Furious film that operates entirely sans Dom and it just doesn’t work, leaving Brian to team up with Roman and Tej, the Tyrese/Ludacris duo that has become a comedic mainstay for the Furious franchise, but their knack for biting banter isn’t given the opportunity to shine in 2 Fast 2 Furious. Brian and Roman have caustic chemistry, but it pales in comparison to the Brian/Dom bromance, leaving a general lack of any relationship worth investing in, which is a huge problem for a film series that thrives on the heart of family. However, 2 Fast 2 Furious does mark a significant step forward for the action, sending cars careening into boats and demolishing them under the wheels of a big rig, and there’s that bit of that heartfelt goofiness to the stupidity that keeps things fun. It’s my least favorite and the one I turn on least often, but it’s still a F&F film, which means you’re gonna get some exceptional car action, over-the-top melodrama, and a few hyper-quotable lines of dialogue.
10. Fast & Furious (2009)
Fast & Furious is an adequate and functional film, and it was a crucial step in transforming the franchise, but it’s stuck somewhere between the street racing drama of the early films and the blissful logic-pummeling action of the later films. That tonal imbalance makes the fourth Furious film a bit of a slog, even though director Justin Lin and screenwriter Chris Morgan were clever enough to reunite the core family and lay the ground groundwork for the films to come.
Fast & Furious picks up the threads from the previous three films and starts weaving them together, the best of which is bringing back Paul Walker and Vin Diesel and rekindling the tension between Dom and Brian, who are pitted against each other once again as they compete for a spot on a crime lord’s driving team. However, Fast & Furious commits the biggest Furious sin – the car scenes are just no good. Abandoning all the kinetic splendor and colorful flourish he showed off in Tokyo Drift, Lin opts for dimly-lit, CGI-heavy races and chases, the worst of which are set in a series of underground tunnels where we can barely make out the action. It also utterly wastes Gal Godot‘s charm as Giselle, which would blossom in later films, by using her as a prop for Dom’s virility. Fast & Furious set the franchise up for a soft reboot and lined up the pieces for something spectacular, but it never put the pieces in play for itself.
9. The Fate of the Furious (2017)
As the first franchise entry to film after the untimely death of Paul Walker, Fate of the Furious had that heartbreaking onus on its back from the beginning. Longtime franchise screenwriter Chris Morgan and series newcomer F. Gary Gray take clever steps to sidestep what could have been an uncomfortable transition by flipping the franchise formula on its head, turning the family patriarch Dom Toretto against his own team. However, they ultimately bend the formula so far it threatens to break, and in the process they seem to forget what family is all about, giving Jason Statham‘s Deckard Shaw a free pass for murdering Han, one of the series’ most beloved characters, in a move that fundamentally betrays the doofy earnestness that makes these films work.
Which is a shame because Statham is aggressively charming in the hero role, especially his beats with Hobbs. The unexpected pairing gives the film the dose of buddy comedy that threatened to go missing in Walker’s absence (and sparked well enough to inspire a whole spinoff franchise). Fate also introduced Cipher, the big bad hacker with a big bad wig, and Charlize Theron sleepwalks through a flurry of seductive-but-menacing whispers, while fellow newcomer Helen Mirren relishes in the tartness of her all-too-brief role. There are spectacular moments along the way, but ultimately none that can overcome the fact that the story betrays the core of the franchise identity.
8. Fast and Furious Presents: Hobbs and Shaw (2019)
What’s a Fast and Furious film without the fambly? Not much of a Fast and Furious film at all, it turns out. Fate of the Furious standouts Hobbs and Shaw launch into their own spinoff with Fast and Furious Presents: Hobbs and Shaw, recruiting Deadpool 2 director David Leitch to take over at the helm with franchise regular Chris Morgan penning the script. The result is a franchise hybrid that’s as unabashedly bromance-fueled as the films that came before, but also feels about as related to 80% of franchise blockbusters in general as it does to the Furious films themselves.
With Hobbs and Shaw, Morgan introduces a heavy dose of straight-up genre to the mix via Idris Elba‘s villainous Brixton; a tech-enhanced superhuman in bulletproof armor with a little Transformers-style motorcycle. Sometimes those additions lead to thrilling action highlights, but mostly, they make Hobbs and Shaw feel like a film of a different ilk that’s a lot less interested in honoring what fans love about the franchise than flexing its oh-so-spectacular muscles. But Hobbs and Shaw definitely has its moments. Vanessa Kirby is an instant franchise superstar as Shaw sister Hattie, elevating every scene she’s in (even when her imposed flirtation with Hobbs whiffs it) and the contentious chemistry between Johnson and Statham still delights (though it does teeter into “too much of a good thing” in the extended bits). The film also makes the most of the international exploits, with a lush and heartfelt trip to Samoa in the third act that absolutely slaps. Ultimately, Hobbs and Shaw doesn’t feel like much of a Furious film, but it’s packed with action and A-list surprises, making for a fine summer blockbuster that delivers all the high-octane thrills, even if you’ll miss some of the heart.
7. Fast X (2023)
There’s a lot going on in Fast X—in fact, this might be the first film in this series that attempts to do too much. Fast X scatters the family around the globe, and eleven films in, there are just too many characters in this world that we need to keep up with. Fast X occasionally hits the highs that the franchise is known for, when it sticks to absurd action sequences that rightfully go over the top. But what makes Fast X so much fun is the introduction of Jason Momoa as Dante, an extremely flamboyant and truly insane villain that might be the franchise’s best. Dante is the perfect antagonist to Vin Diesel’s stoic Dom, and Dante’s attempt to torture Dom elevates this above some of the lesser installments in this series. Dante attacks the family, and we all know that’s the way to get Dom’s attention! Fast X might be too sprawling and grandiose for its own good, but Momoa still makes this tenth mainline F&F film worthwhile.
6. Fast & Furious 6 (2013)
How do you top the perfection of Fast Five? Well, you don’t, but Lin and Morgan managed to concoct an even wilder brew with Fast & Furious 6, the film that NOS-blasted the franchise into nutso superhero melodrama territory. This is the Furious film that officially turns its back on all sense of reality, resurrecting Michelle Rodriguez‘s Letty, giving her a classic case of soap opera amnesia, and throwing the family into a war against a team of their evil doppelgangers with a self-aware wink. The action is insane, including the fantastic highway-set tank scene that cements Dom as an invulnerable superhuman and the infamous endless runway scene; a disappointing, repetitive sequence that somehow killed a beloved character despite all the science-defying heroic feats of invulnerability peppered throughout the film. Fast & Furious 6 is a mess, with a particularly weak villain in a franchise of weak villains, but it’s like foam parties or mud wrestling, a very fun mess with just as many gratuitous butts.
5. The Fast and the Furious (2001)
The Fast and The Furious is every bit the early 2000s Point Break rip-off it was intended to be, equipped with peak early-aughts CGI and rage-inducing nu metal music. The hideous trappings of the early millennium aside, Rob Cohen‘s mid-budget actioner has held up remarkably well over the years, even if it is all but unrecognizable to what the franchise has become. In fact, it seems positively quaint by comparison.
Long before they turned into unofficial superheroes, The Fast and the Furious introduced the family a semi-grounded crime drama set in the world of street racing and high-speed heists (pre-flatscreen TVs, no less!) The handsome young Brian O’Connor (Walker) goes undercover in the seductive world of drag racing thieves, learns the philosophy of Dominic Toretto (Diesel), and discovers he might not be the upstanding lawman he thought. It’s simple, it’s certainly not original, but it is an effective and entertaining piece of pop entertainment wrapped up with a thrilling third-act heist gone wrong and some B-movie dialogue so iconic the franchise has yet to top it.
4. F9 (2021)
After taking an 8-year break from Fast and Furious, Lin returned to direct his first installment since Fast & Furious 6 with 2021’s F9, a film that’s as wild, over-the-top, and completely chaotic as any Fast and/or Furious movie has ever been, but also manages to firmly recenter the focus on family after the more Hobbs and Shaw-centric recent films. The result is a truly stunning bit of surreal blockbuster filmmaking, that exists in some magical middle-ground between earnest drama and straight-up self-parody.
Bringing back plenty of familiar faces alongside the core family crew, including Kang’s much-missed Han (with a pretty underwhelming delivery on the promise of “Justice for Han”), F9 also introduces John Cena as the new baddie; Dom and Mia’s long-lost, never-before-mentioned brother, who has a grudge to settle and a world to take over. Cena doesn’t gel with the Fast and Furious tone quite as well as I’d hoped, but his stunts are everything you’d expect, including a glorious never-ending zipline gag. Everything about F9 is gloriously over-the-top; a film that invites you to laugh along with the chaos at every turn. But it’s also positively adoring to the franchise itself, a love letter to everything fans celebrate about this unruly franchise, and Lin returns with a vengeance, once again proving that nobody knows how to handle the wild ride quite like him.
3. Furious 7 (2015)
A classic revenge tale put through the filter of preposterous action pageantry that has become the signature of the recent Fast and Furious films, Furious 7 has everything you could want. Cars skydive out of an airplane, kicking off a near 15-minute action sequence. The Rock flexes his way out of a cast, which he got by jumping out of a four-story window. Cars fly through the towers in Abu Dhabi, flipping the bird at gravity as they go. Kurt Russell practically tap dances through the film with sparkling charisma clearly having a blast as the mischievous Mr. Nobody, and fellow newcomer Jason Statham makes for a franchise-best villain as the ex-British Intelligence officer Deckard Shaw, who blows up the family’s life, literally and figuratively. But ultimately, the fact that Furious 7 has to combine all this stellar ridiculousness with a heartfelt sendoff for Paul Walker, who died during filming, makes for a much stranger, more somber, and emotionally honest film than was ever intended. And it absolutely nails the farewell with a genuinely touching finale that should have been impossible to pull off. It’s a weird mix at times, but the fact that Furious 7 works at all is some kind of minor filmmaking miracle, and that it works so well is a testament to James Wan‘s skill and style as a director.
2. The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift (2006)
The most unfairly maligned of the Fast and Furious films, Lin and Morgan’s franchise debut is an absolute delight from top to tail; a gleeful series oddball that both stands on its own and introduces a character so beloved the entire franchise timeline was reworked to bring him back. It’s easy to see why people are resistant to the film; Tokyo Drift transports the action to Japan, leaving the family behind with an all-new cast of over-the-top high school characters. It also put the focus firmly on the street-racing and hinges on a lead character who is an absolutely unlikeable clown and maybe the worst driver in the world. Even so, the film takes strength in a simple plot, a star-making turn from Sung Kang, stylish direction from Lin, and the wise instinct to never take itself too seriously.
Toyko Drift stars Lucas Black as a rambunctious teenage rule breaker who is shipped off to live with his deadbeat dad in Tokyo, where he meets his street-racing mentor, Kang’s Han “snack attack” Seoul-Oh, and learns a new way to live while he’s learning a new way to drive. It’s a full-on B-movie blast that’s visually splendid, packed with kinetic races and chase scenes, and a playfully respectful riff on the street racing mentor dynamic established in the first film. Tokyo Drift fearlessly reinvents the franchise, and in doing so it manages to be a completely singular and somewhat detached film in the series, but one that also bizarrely became a crux of the narrative in retrospect. But make no mistake, all the hallmarks international audiences have come to love about the later Furious films are here, making it an essential entry in the franchise – and a delightful one in its own right.
1. Fast Five (2011)
To watch Fast Five is to see a well-tuned machine firing on all cylinders. Lin and Morgan redefined the franchise with every installment they created together, but they reached the pinnacle with their third team-up, the fifth film in the Furious franchise. Fast Five finally gave Brian the opportunity to embrace his outlaw nature by leaving police work behind for good, and in the process, opened the door for Dwayne Johnson‘s Luke Hobbs, the walking tree trunk/superhuman that lands somewhere between hero and antagonist in his first appearance.
Johnson not only injected a welcome dose of new charisma to the ensemble that helped earned him the nickname “franchise Viagra”, he was pitted against the best of the best from the previous Furious films — Dom, Brian, Mia, Han, Gisele, Roman, Tej, Leo, Santos, and even Vince, who returned to the family for the first time since the 2001 original. After four films of rotating cast members, Fast Five cemented the idea of the family as a central tenet of the franchise with an excellently curated selection of the best players in the history of the team, each of whom came with established friendships, rivalries, and romances in their shared history.
Then there’s the action, which remains the best in the Furious films to date. Following the poor reception of the CGI-heavy approach in Fast & Furious, Lin recruited Spiro Razatos and his stunt team to deliver a practical approach. And it just rules. The set pieces that followed may have become crazier and more outrageous, but they’ve never been more thrilling or effective than in Fast Five. At this point, the needle had officially tilted in favor of action spectacle over crime drama but hadn’t yet fully abandoned the grasp on reality. The brilliant vault-towing climactic set-piece doesn’t work without some appreciation for physics (even in the loosest sense), and it’s all the better for it. When Hobbs loses his men, you feel the fire it lights in him. The sense of consequences makes the movie have weight, and the fact that the family is pulling that classic “one last job” to get out for good makes the tension even thicker. Fast Five isn’t just the best Fast and Furious film; it’s a modern action classic and one of the best blockbuster films of the last decade.