Ahead of Fast & Furious 10, it’s time to work out which movie from The Fast Saga is in pole position when they’re ranked from worst to best. Judging by their modest, B-movie beginnings, nobody could’ve imagined the multi-billion dollar franchise that would one day entertain the world for 20 years, nor that its principal characters would shift their ambitions from stealing a bunch of DVD players to sending Ludacris to outer space.
The first film in the series premiered in 2001, an exploitation film essentially sold as Point Break with cars. From those humble beginnings, a star was born in Vin Diesel, a friendship was established between characters Dominic Toretto and Brian O’Conner, and the promise of more to come was greeted by an enthusiastic audience. Just what would come after was a bit of a mystery, and remained so for three sequels, each of which took the series down a different possible route. It wasn’t until the series’ fifth entry, Fast Five, that it crossed over into what it is today: a full-blooded, revved-up blockbuster franchise overflowing with gloriously ridiculous action setpieces and grounded with a simple but earnest message about family above all else.
Fast & Furious 10 screeches onto the scene in 2023, arriving in two parts like Jakob Toretto’s Aries device. And, although the series’ finish line may be in sight, the rearview mirror shows one of the most uniquely and organically constructed franchises in film history. It’s a proudly multicultural affair, a surprisingly sprawling saga whose unashamedness to wear its heart on its sleeve or put its foot too hard on the gas is capable of warming the heart of even the most stoic of film snobs. Here are the Fast and the Furious movies, ranked from worst to best – and everything we know about what’s next for the Fast First Family.
10. Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw (2019)
Dwayne Johnson and Jason Statham shared a few scenes of genuine chemistry in the eighth Fast and Furious movie. Naturally, it became decreed that the duo should reprise that chemistry for a full 135-minute feature: Hobbs and Shaw. Either of these guys is clearly capable of anchoring his own movie, but together they’re an exhausting pair. Their interplay consists of a lot of shouted insults, macho posturing, and not-so-veiled threats about what the other can shove where. There’s none of the heartfelt musings on family and friendship present in the series proper, just a lot of scenes of these two trying to prove who’s the bigger tough guy. To cap it off, Hobbs and Shaw has a confusing and nonsensical ending. A couple of misfired cameos from well-known actors are a good reminder that the Fast and the Furious franchise has never been about A-list star power, but instead a refreshing underdog spirit.
9. The Fate of the Furious (2017)
The Fast and the Furious franchise has been ramping up to Bond-level ridiculousness for a while now, but it’s unfortunate that when it finally crossed over, in the eighth installment, The Fate of the Furious, it went way too far. It’s not just the Arctic climax, which somehow involves a giant submarine and something called a “nuclear football.” It’s that the franchise seems so unsure of how to proceed after the loss of Paul Walker (and the gut-punch of an emotional climax of Furious 7) that it kind of just throws everything at the wall to see what sticks. This includes simultaneously casting a post-Mad Max: Fury Road Charlize Theron and then wasting her by imprisoning her at a control center where she pushes buttons and says things like, “Take that!” or “Get a load of this!” It also involves a hackneyed plot about Dom turning to the dark side, an initially interesting narrative move that ultimately isn’t worth leaving the crew without a compelling leader, or a decipherable mission. Every plot thread feels like a different movie, and none of them add up to much except a few choice setpieces. Hobbs’ and Shaw’s prison break scene absolutely explodes from the screen in a mass brawl that capitalizes on the best parts of the Rock’s movie stardom, a zombie car centerpiece is inspired lunacy, and the sight of Jason Statham slaying a shootout while carrying around a baby is arguably worth the price of admission. Mostly, though, F. Gary Gray’s lone contribution to the franchise feels both aimless and unnecessary.
8. Fast & Furious (2009)
The fourth entry in the now-titled Fast Saga has a lot of heavy-lifting to do. Fast and Furious is the first real sequel to the original, the second and third installments missing Vin Diesel, who declined participation due to lackluster writing (while still finding plenty of time to partake in xXx). It’s also series MVP director Justin Lin’s first step in revamping the films from a series of exploitation-style underground car flicks to a bona fide, balls-to-the-wall action franchise. It’s essentially a soft reboot, as it’s far better at setting the board for Fast Five than it is capitalizing on the compelling dynamic between Brian and Dom set up in the original film, and its early-film “death” of Michelle Rodriguez’s Letty casts a pall over the proceedings that never really lets up. This is by far the moodiest and least fun of the Fast films, and while it’s nice to see Brian and Dom back together again it’s also lame to see the former such a buttoned-up suit and the latter such a Terminator-style angel of vengeance, with none of the ringleader charm that made him such a dynamic force in the first film. As with most of these films, it’s hard to imagine the franchise as it is today without it, but on its own, this is one of the more forgettable entries.
7. 2 Fast 2 Furious (2003)
Rocking a title so horrible it somehow comes right back around to being amazing, 2 Fast 2 Furious had few characters return from the first installment, which meant the conspicuous absence of Vin Diesel. The first sequel in the franchise imagines a world where this entire series is about Paul Walker playing a SoCal himbo cop in a series of car-centric police procedurals. The main legacy of this entry is the introduction of Tyrese Gibson as Roman Pearce and Ludacris as Tej, two performances-slash-characters that survive their murky, confused introductions here to respawn several films later as the series’ highly endearing version of a comic relief duo. 2 Fast 2 Furious was also directed by the late John Singleton. He employs a hyper-kinetic style that transforms the racing sequences into neon-drenched anime episodes, making for a stylish and fun opening ten minutes, but his emphasis on aesthetic can’t overcome this entry’s interminably dull plot.
Also, few central Fast Saga characters return in this installment, removing it from the “family” feel of later additions. Screenwriting has never been the highlight of these films, but 2 Fast 2 Furious is also burdened with some seriously shonky (and casually misogynistic) dialogue saddling Tyrese with the line “It’s a ho-asis in here.” It’s a bridge too far for the series. That’s to say nothing of the bizarre casting of Dazed and Confused‘s Cole Hauser as an Argentinean druglord, without a doubt the series’ most lackluster villain. Hindsight, however, is 2020, and a video essay from YouTuber Ben From Canada reframes the movie as an exploration of a genuinely nuanced and subtle bisexual love triangle between Brian, Roman, and Eva Mendes’ Monica Fuentes. It might give the slightly puerile script more credit than it’s due, but the wild take affords the movie a rewatch it hasn’t wholly earned.
6. Fast & Furious 6 (2013)
One of the best things about The Fast Saga is that, for a while, it totally reinvents itself with each film. In a world of cookie-cutter studio filmmaking, it’s remarkable that this series doesn’t settle on any particular formula until its sixth entry, Fast and Furious 6. While that formula is ultimately a good one, having been set by the inimitable Fast Five, it’s also a bit of a letdown to see these films switch into cruise control after so much swerving and drifting. Alas, that’s just what Justin Lin does in his fourth time in the director’s chair. Things chug along in a steady but workmanlike fashion, everyone on the team has their standard action movie quips, and the whole film feels the safest and most Marvel-like of all the entries. The most notable sequence is a dimly-lit finale as endless as the airport runway on which it takes place. While Gal Gadot’s Gisele is unfortunately killed off (although perhaps not permanently, given Fast & Furious 10, Michelle Rodriguez’s Letty is thankfully brought back from the dead, in an amnesia plot that sees the series diving headfirst (and welcomely) into soap opera territory, and the resurrection gives the film a slight but solid emotional throughline, culminating in a sweetly earnest final scene that helps underline the saga’s all-important family roots.
5. F9: The Fast Saga (2021)
The last time the series seemed stalled out with no new roads to explore, Justin Lin took the wheel and brought it roaring back to life. So it seems only appropriate that after the low-point of Fate of the Furious, he’d be the guy waiting in the pit stop to gas things back up. The final entries in the Fast Saga start filming in January 2022, but F9 gives the series exactly the boost it needs to send it careening toward the finish line. Some may call much of this one ridiculous, proven by Roman and Tej’s gleeful and self-aware foray into space. However, it’s all carried off with such graceful, committed elegance that it feels pointless to complain. A lot of that has to do, as always, with Vin Diesel, an actor so unparalleled in his ability to grunt out something absolutely absurd and make you believe every word of it, that it transforms the whole film into exactly the irresistibly giddy crowdpleaser for which movie theaters were made. The set pieces are bigger, louder, and (in the best sense of the word) stupider, but the heart hasn’t gone anywhere. After 20 years, sans Paul Walker and the Rock, there’s still plenty of gas left in the tank.
4. Furious 7 (2014)
“This will win Best Picture at the Oscars. There’s nothing that will ever come close to the power of this thing.” That’s what Vin Diesel declared upon this film’s release. While his prediction didn’t ultimately come true, the sentiment isn’t entirely misplaced. For a generation reared on these films, the tribute to Paul Walker that closes this installment was a three-hanky wallop on par with the most emotionally devastating films to ever take home the gold at the Academy Awards. The fact that his mid-production death, caused by him engaging in the type of behavior these films glorify, didn’t cast a ghoulish cloud over the entire final product is its own form of miracle. On the contrary, Furious 7 is largely a victory lap for everyone involved. This film sees the series flexing all its hard-won muscles. That’s not necessarily always a great thing; James Wan is a welcome new director to the franchise, but he also gets lost in a relentless (and CGI-ridden) succession of setpieces that drowns out a fairly compelling setup about Dom embarking on “one last job” to save The Family from any more funerals. Automobiles parachute out of a plane, and Dom and Brian pull off a car-jump stunt between the Etihad Towers skyscrapers – it’s thrilling, but a third act firefight overstays its welcome by a longshot. Of course, it’s all overshadowed by that emotional ending, a sequence sure to bring a tear to even the most jaded cynic’s eye. Paul Walker may have been criticized regularly for his wooden performances in these films, but Furious 7‘s finale cashes the check he and Vin had been writing all along: that their unshakable chemistry was the true beating heart of the franchise.
3. The Fast and the Furious (2002)
The Fast and the Furious isn’t the best-made movie in the franchise. It’s shoddily but competently directed by Rob Cohen, an inescapable artifact of the time of its creation. It’s dominated by an interminable early-aughts soundtrack, filled with cringe early-aughts fashion, and positively ablaze with the male gaze. Despite all this, the film holds up for one simple reason: Dominic Toretto and Brian O’Conner emerge clearly drawn from the get-go, and their relationship touches on the same sort of primal bromance that made Point Break click but for one slight yet key revisionist question: What if the cop loved the outlaw so much that deep down he wanted to throw away his badge and ride off into the sunset with him? That notion gives the film real fire – it’s no mistake this is really the only movie in the franchise with some genuine tension. Paul Walker may not be the most compelling leading man to ever grace the screen, but he instantly feels one with the role of Brian, and Vin Diesel’s Toretto makes the kind of movie star and character debut here that legends are made of. His singular brand of bizarre charisma, his gravel-voiced baritone both sensual and commanding, make for a performance so instantly iconic it feels painful not to have it around in the next two installments. The Fast and the Furious may be a product of its time, but it’s also the key in the ignition that set the franchise off on its long and winding road, even if it didn’t quite know where that road was going yet.
2. The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift (2006)
Here it is: the outlier of the Fast and the Furious franchise. After two films that ostensibly set up a series about the cop misadventures of Paul Walker, Tokyo Drift brushed all that aside to make a high school movie about an army brat moving to Japan and learning how to drift. It would be an insane, franchise-ending move if the results weren’t so incredibly entertaining. Yes, it’s true Lucas Black is sporting a criminally thick Southern twang, as well as a shocking amount of chest hair for an alleged high schooler. Yes, it’s true Bow Wow makes an appearance as a character named “Twink.” However, whatever one might find Tokyo Drift lacks, it makes up for in personality, from its banger of a theme song to its beautifully staged races (the best in the series). The Fast and Furious: Tokyo Drift also introduced Han (Sung Kang), the best F&F character this side of Dominic Toretto, a character so phenomenal the series made its next three entries prequels just to keep him around and then wound up retconning him back to life in F9 anyway. In his first venture into the Fast and the Furious universe, Justin Lin marries bravura style to the series’ most refreshingly simple story, framing the motion of drifting cars like a testosterone-doused ballet. The Tokyo setting is a gorgeous, evocative backdrop, and that cameo at the end is such a satisfying cliff-hanger, you can practically hear the rest of the franchise revving its engines.
1. Fast Five (2011)
The Fast Saga is about family. It’s about brawny guys beating the tar out of each other and then hugging it out. It’s about genre- and logic-defying action set pieces, showstopping stunts in cool cars. It’s about Vin Diesel spouting absurdities, but meaning every word. If all this is true (and it is), then Fast Five is the Rosetta Stone to the whole franchise, a magic act that takes its four exceedingly varied predecessors and retroactively transforms them into a slow-burn setup for the building of the team that will come to define the rest of the films in the series. That it also transitions the films from their underground racing roots to a heist-centered action franchise without making the audience bat an eye is just icing on the cake. Sure, a lot of the middle of Fast Five comes off like store-bought Ocean’s Eleven, but that’s part of its charm. This is the beginning of the crew, the beginning of Roman and Tej’s dynamic duo, of Han and Giselle’s sizzling romance, of Dom’s obsession with “La Familia.” It’s also the beginning of bigger and better stunts: an expertly-filmed train heist, a parkour race through Rio, and (the series’ piece de resistance) a car chase involving a bank vault. Fast Five makes everything that came before look better and sets the foundation for everything that will come after with all the style and undersung elegance that has come to define the Fast Saga. The previous Fast Saga movies have their highs and lows, and the later installments may be wilder rides overall, but this is the one that makes the journey worth going on.
Which Fast And Furious Movie Did Best At The Box Office?
Furious 7 took home a larger international box office haul than any other installment of The Fast Saga, raking in $1.516 billion dollars worldwide. While it seems simple to pin that success on the sudden and tragic mid-production demise of Paul Walker and the resulting wave of support, other factors played into its hands commercially. After Tokyo Drift‘s stalling performance, Diesel took over as a producer, and the series has barely checked its wing mirrors since. Each successive installment between Tokyo Drift and Furious 7 earned more than the last, thanks to its sprawling saga, ridiculous stunts, and diverse cast. Furious 7 was always a quarter-mile ahead of other tentpole franchises in creating characters from communities of color, and these communities responded in kind: on Furious 7‘s opening weekend, 75% of its US audience were nonwhite. Its release right after Diesel’s turn as Groot in Guardians of the Galaxy can’t have hurt, either.
Everything We Know About Fast & Furious 10
Universal has confirmed an April 7, 2023 release for the first half of Fast & Furious 10, barring any surprise delays. Jason Momoa has been confirmed as the villain, and many of the most familiar faces will return Diesel also dropped a video announcement on April 10th welcoming Brie Larsen to the Fast family in an as-yet-unannounced role.
Storywise, the Brothers Toretto are now in league after Jakob Toretto (John Cena’s) realized he’d been used and betrayed by Charlize Theron’s hacker/terrorist Cipher and Thue Ersted Rasmussen’s slimy financier Otto. Cipher accidentally killed Otto and escaped, meaning that she’s still very much on the loose and hoping to cause the Torettos and their makeshift family some serious discomfort. And given The Fast Saga’s propensity to retcon pretty much any character death, it’s more than likely that Gal Gadot’s Giselle and Kurt Russell’s Mr. Nobody will make comebacks or cameos. There’s no trailer, footage, or even on-set pictures for The Fast Saga‘s penultimate offering yet, so it remains to be seen where they can send Ludacris in Fast & Furious 10 that’s more ludicrous than space, or whether Universal will truly bite the bullet and rename it Fast 10 Your Seatbelts.
Next: Does Jakob Toretto Retcon The Fast & Furious Franchise?
- Fast & Furious 10 (2023)Release date: Apr 12, 2022
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