Sometimes a big movie franchise springs fully formed into the popular culture, like
Star Wars or Batman. And sometimes these phenomena develop in unexpected ways over time. The Fast and Furious movies got their start as a hot rod knock-off of Kathryn Bigelow’s action classic Point Break, but eventually transformed into a multibillion dollar franchise that now has more in common with James Bond movies than pulpy bromantic crime flicks.
As such, if you look back over the lengthy
Fast and Furious franchise, you’ll find that a lot of the films barely resemble one another. Some are heist films, some are action spectaculars, some are coming of age sports movies and one of them – a film that rather unexpectedly became an important part of the franchise, despite originally having nothing to do with it – looks more like a teenage Goodfellas than anything else.
If you have to rank them – and this is our job here, so we totally do – you run into the serious problem of how they can possibly compare to one another. The solution is simple in concept, but complex in execution. You have to judge how effectively each film achieved its own individual goals, whether that was to make you laugh, cry or pump your fists in the air like the audience at a demolition derby.
How did our little experiment turn out? Let’s take a look at all nine of the
Fast and Furious theatrical feature films – yes, there are nine of them – and find out!
All Nine ‘Fast and Furious’ Movies, Ranked:
Top Photos: Universal Pictures
William Bibbiani (everyone calls him ‘Bibbs’) is Crave’s film content editor and critic. You can hear him every week on The B-Movies Podcast and Canceled Too Soon , and watch him on the weekly YouTube series What the Flick . Follow his rantings on Twitter at @WilliamBibbiani .
All Nine Fast and Furious Movies, Ranked
9. Fast & Furious (2009)
Fast & Furious movie is, in no uncertain terms, a total mess. The action is all over the place and the story makes no impact. The best you can say for Fast & Furious is that it moved all the pieces in position, setting the stage for some spectacular follow-ups that pushed the franchise in a more exciting direction. Photo: Universal Pictures
8. 2 Fast 2 Furious (2003)
Vin Diesel sits the second
Fast & Furious movie out and it's easy to see why. 2 Fast 2 Furious is a lackluster retread of the original, with forgettable drama and merely adequate action. The studio obviously didn't know what to do with this property yet, although at least somebody had the good sense to amplify the enjoyably overt homoerotic subtext. Photo: Universal Pictures
7. The Fate of the Furious (2017)
The action is as big as ever in
The Fate of the Furious, but Dominic Toretto's motivation for betraying his team is kept secret for far too long, and Deckard Shaw's turn to the light side completely glosses over the fact that he murdered a beloved character. These two flaws make it a little too difficult to get invested in this outing. Photo: Universal Pictures
6. Furious 7 (2015)
What should have been the best and biggest
Fast & Furious became a strange meta-textual farewell to the series' late protagonist Paul Walker, after he died tragically during filming. The action is great and Deckard Shaw is an incredible villain, but the changes that had to be made to the storyline make little sense. It's a miracle the film works at all. Photo: Universal Pictures
5. The Fast and the Furious (2001)
The Fast and the Furious is a shameless rip-off of Point Break, with a hunky young FBI agent going undercover with seductive extreme sports thieves and questioning his loyalties. But it's a good rip-off, with a fun cast, an emotional storyline and a great climactic high-speed heist. Photo: Universal Pictures
4. Fast & Furious 6 (2013)
Letty comes back from the dead - with amnesia, no less - in this ecstatically excessive sequel. The set pieces are epic, the emotions are epic-er. Everything about this movie is gloriously ridiculous in the best possible way.
Photo: Universal Pictures
3. Better Luck Tomorrow (2002)
Before director Justin Lin started making
Fast & Furious movies he made a big splash with A Better Tomorrow, a low budget crime drama about overachieving teenagers who turn to delinquency, mostly for the hell of it. Better Luck Tomorrow is a scrappy, somewhat ramshackle drama that packs a big wallop. More to the point, it introduced audiences to the character of Han, who would go on to star in multiple Fast & Furious movies, starting with... Photo: Paramount Pictures
2. The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift (2006)
A departure for the
Fast & Furious franchise, but a welcome one, Tokyo Drift is a slick and effective Karate Kid riff that stars Lucas Black as an undisciplined street racer who moves to Japan and has to learn a new way to drive from Han. The Fast and The Furious: Tokyo Drift would have been great as a stand-alone movie, but it became weirdly significant to the franchise as the filmmakers started turning the fourth, fifth and sixth installments into an elaborate prelude to its events. Photo: Universal Pictures
1. Fast Five (2011)
Fast & Furious movie is also, no bones about it, one of the best action movies in a very long time. The team dynamic is spot on, the action is incredible, the humor is genuinely funny, and the plot is simple and effective. The criminals from the previous films have to become unlikely heroes, turning their vehicular skills against a common enemy. Dwayne Johnson also shows up to finally give them a worthy opponent. And it all ends in one of the most wonderful and absurd car chases ever put on camera. Fast Five is the fastest and arguably the most furious installment yet. Photo: Universal Pictures