Gather 'round familia, it's that time of year again. With Hobbs & Shaw hitting theaters this summer, it's a good time to take a look back at the strange journey these movies have taken. From robbing trucks to fighting submarines, the Fast crew has dealt with a lot, and no two of their collective adventures are the same. In fact, the series runs the full gamut of franchise filmmaking, going from trashy teen movies to some of the most popular films on planet earth. These things didn’t happen overnight though, and the road was not always smooth.
Keep scrolling for a ranked list of every Fast and Furious film. Spoilers for all of them to follow.
10 Better Luck Tomorrow (2002)
You might be scratching your head right now, but there is an explanation, and it comes with some cool movie trivia. Director Justin Lin is best known for directing much of the Fast Franchise, but he first made a splash with Better Luck Tomorrow. BLT follows a group of high school criminals who start to lose control of their various scams. Why does any of this matter? Well, one of the high schoolers is played by actor Sung Kang, and his name is Han. When Lin got the gig directing Tokyo Drift, he imported Kang, and Han, into Fast and Furious legend.
The movie might not officially be canon, but it’s very good, and serves as a stealthy prequel for one of the series’ best characters.
9 Fast and Furious (2009)
While Better Luck Tomorrow only ranked low on the list on the technicality of not being part of the series, Fast and Furious definitely earns its low ranking. The confusingly titled fourth entry in the series, Fast 4 billed itself as a return to form, reuniting several cast members from the first film. While it certainly starts strong, with an exciting truck heist, Fast 4 immediately torpedoes that goodwill by killing Letty. This plunges Dom and Brian into a boring revenge plot, devoid of Fast’s usual fun and personality. Coming a year after the mega-success of The Dark Knight, Fast & Furious feels like an attempt to soften the franchise’s edges. In the service of making and a “gritty & realistic” action film, the movie takes the tone in the wrong direction, a move which the next films would work to course correct. For a series that’s usually so vibrant and alive, Fast and Furious is the only entry to feel generic.
8 The Fate of the Furious (2017)
The Fate of the Furious has a lot going for it. The aforementioned submarine chase, a brilliant gag involving Jason Statham and a baby, a shocking but clever twist, and one of the Rock’s best action sequences. Despite all this, the latest entry in the Furious saga is majorly divisive among fans.
Why? The reasons are many. Most egregious is a speedy redemption for Statham’s Deckard Shaw, a villain who murdered Han only one movie prior. Compounding the problems is a blank government agent character, played by Scott Eastwood, seemingly introduced in a tasteless attempt to replace Paul Walker. Fate also suffers from an MCU esque-feeling of being generally inconsequential. The villain gets away, no characters are harmed, and generally not much changes from the beginning of the film to the end. Even in this series, where cars drive through planes and bank vaults are pulled through the streets, Fate’s endless cliff-hangers and call-backs are Fast at its most exhausting.
7 2 Fast 2 Furious (2003)
Directed by the late, great John Singleton, 2 Fast 2 Furious is, by contrast, one of the most contained adventures in the Fast-verse. Essentially a buddy movie between Paul Walker’s Brian and Tyrese Gibson’s Roman, 2 Fast 2 Furious satisfies, but never surprises. Rare in the sense that it doesn’t explicitly center on the theme of family, 2 Fast shines in its expansive worldbuilding. Singleton affectionately shoots Miami’s street racing scene as a welcoming haven for the young, directionless, and attractive. Unfortunately, most of the memorable side characters we meet, including Ludacris’ charismatic Tej, are sidelined to make room for a by-the-numbers drug bust plot.
The central dynamic is fun, but Roman’s antics, which serve as welcome comic relief in subsequent entries, end up grating when given so much screen time. Paul Walker is a very charismatic actor, but he is not enough to distract from the absence of Dom and the gang.
6 Furious 7 (2015)
You have to wonder what someone from 50 years in the future would think about Furious 7. A lot of the movie isn’t great, but the flaws are completely excusable, even remarkably minor, with one piece of real-life fact; star Paul Walker died halfway through filming. It’s not to say the movie isn’t good on its own merits. Despite a weak revenge story at its core and an extremely messy third act, Furious 7 delivers where it counts. There are two great set pieces; a multi-car skydive leading into a bonkers mountain chase, and an absurd Dubai-set spy sequence that are on par with the series best. What makes it extraordinary, however, is the way Furious 7 blends the real-life facts into the in-universe story. Handling a real-life tragedy tactfully and with class, the movie wisely doesn’t kill Walker’s character. Instead, an emotional send-off finds him retiring to be with his family, and is followed by maybe the most famous scene in the entire franchise. As Walker, driving alongside Diesel, takes a fork in the road, and drives into the sunset one last time.
5 The Fast and the Furious (2001)
Seemingly a shallow B-movie for horny teens, it’s hard to imagine anyone could have predicted the longevity this series would have. Still, on a revisit, it’s clear there is more than meets the eye to the original film. Sure, it’s an obvious rip off of Point Break, but at the very least it understands what made that film work; it’s essentially a romance.
This film, and this entire series, would not work if you didn’t believe that Brian, Dom, Mia, and Letty care about each other. For any complaints you can lodge against the franchise (or the actors, for that matter) this movie inarguably makes you believe that.
It may not be perfect, but Fast as a deeply sincere ode to the power of found family? That all starts here.
4 The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift (2006)
At first glance, it’s easy to see why Tokyo Drift has gotten the bad rap it’s been given over the past ten years. If you take a closer look though, it’s just as easy to see what makes it so great.
By far the most stand-alone entry in the franchise, Tokyo Drift was dismissed for its wooden lead performance, low-stakes story, and lack of returning characters. Instead of Dom or Brian, our lead character is 17-year-old Sean Boswell, a street-racing army brat who can’t stay in one place for too long. Bounced to Tokyo to stay with his father, Sean soon falls into old habits, but something might be different this time.
Under the watchful eye of director Justin Lin and writer Chris Morgan, this extremely specific set-up becomes a universal story of finding your people, and ultimately, your home.
The Tokyo Drift of the title is not just a quick turn, but a metaphor for learning the rhythms of a new culture, and allowing yourself to connect with others. Sean may start the movie as an unlikeable dick, sure, but Drift carefully tracks his coming of age. Plus, this film introduced us to Han, a character so cool the series bent space and time just to keep him around.
3 Fast Five (2011)
In an unprecedented move, the F&F series started to majorly hit its stride in the fifth entry. A year before The Avengers, Fast Five brought together a bunch of its misfit characters for a heartfelt and action-packed reunion. That reunion was such delirious fun for die-hard fans that it completely revitalized the franchise.
Where to even start with the joys this movie has to offer? There’s Han and Gisele’s romance, the vault chase, and, maybe most memorably, Dwayne Johnson’s Luke Hobbs, a sweaty Javert to Diesel’s Jean Valjean. It’s glorious, and the first film to make explicit the themes of family that were under the surface all along.
2 Fast and Furious 6 (2013)
If Five was a surprising hint at the heights the franchise could reach, Six was the delivery of that promise. It may require you to be fully immersed in the Fast mythos, but if you’ve done your homework, Fast and Furious 6 is close to the peak of Hollywood franchise filmmaking.
Everything pops, from the heartfelt reconciliation between Dom and Letty to the tragic fate of Han and Gisele. There’s some great comedy, as Han and Roman frantically tussle with the Raid’s Joe Taslim. It even delivers on a historical franchise weak point, giving us the series first (and maybe only) great villain.
This is all without mentioning the action, which is also a series best. The practical car stunts shown off in Five are surpassed in scale and execution, and as cool as a CGI submarine is, it’s hard to imagine anything touching the mid-movie tank sequence. Justin Lin went all out for his final Fast movie (for now), and boy, did it show.
1 Los Bandoleros (2009)
If you rented a physical copy of Fast 4 in 2009, you might have noticed a special feature on the disk entitled “Los Bandoleros”. It is less than 30 minutes long, never played in theaters, and might be the best Fast and Furious film.
Taking place directly before the fourth film, Los Bandoleros finds Dom, Letty, and Han in the Dominican Republic, as guests of friends Leo and Santos. Elegantly written and directed by Vin Diesel, (seriously) the film follows the crew as they prepare to execute the heist that opens Fast and Furious. Loose and atmospheric, the short lays out Dom and the team’s motives, showing how gasoline is hoarded by fuel companies as a way of controlling the poor. It also takes the time for some quiet character moments, most notably a romantic trip to the beach with Dom and Letty. There’s no racing, and little action, and only the most necessary pieces of story, but Los Bandeleros does what the Fast movies do best.
It makes you care.