The 'Fast and Furious' Movies, Ranked

The Fast and Furious franchise is probably the most unlikely billion-dollar franchise ever created. Equally inspired by an article about street racing and a forgotten exploitation film from the 1950s, the first movie is a fairly low budget movie about an undercover cop and a thief who steals DVD players.

Flash forward 20 years and that film has spawned nine other movies in which the characters have taken on cyborgs, nuclear submarines and armies of remote-controlled cars, all the while jumping out of planes and skyscrapers in hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of vehicles.

As that description may suggest, the films have been somewhat of a mixed bag. With the latest Fast and Furious 9 now in theaters, here are the 10 movies of the franchise so far ranked from best to worst.

The Fast and Furious movies, ranked

10. The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift (2006)

Though stylishly directed by Justin Lin, who would become the franchise's go-to guy, this is the definite nadir of the series. The shortest of the films, it is also the one where the least happens, and even in a franchise that lacks for brains, it stands out for moments of stupidity—see the final scene, for example, where everyone is watching the last race, live-streaming on their phones despite no one actually filming it.

There are some elements that work. It perhaps has the best soundtrack of any of the F&F movies, some of the camerawork is enjoyably audacious, and for a franchise that later made headlines when its stars had in their contracts that they could not be shown losing a fight, it is enjoyable to see the main character completely humiliated in his first race in Tokyo.

That main character, however, is the ultimate problem with this film. Lucas Black went on to be a likeable presence in NCIS: New Orleans, but he does not have the movie star charisma of the man he replaced, Paul Walker, and the journey of his character from man who can't "drift" (aka skid) in his car to a man who can just is not that interesting. Add to that the double bill of not making the most of the amazing backdrop that is Tokyo, and making the four main actors in this Japan-set film not Japanese, and you have the biggest misstep of the franchise.

9. Fast and Furious (2009)

The fourth film in the franchise brought back its original stars, but by the end of the movie you'll wish they had not bothered.

Though released eight years after the original, this is very much the moody adolescent of the series. Fast and Furious brings back Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Jordana Brewster and Michelle Rodriguez, only to kill off the latter just minutes after the opening.

That opening, which saw Torretto and co face off against an oil tanker, is the finest set piece the series had created so far, but once Letty dies, the film loses itself to 45 minutes of moping.

In other films, this dour seriousness is set against moments of humor and high-octane set pieces. This movie has none of the former, and makes the bizarre decision to set most of its action at night and/or in tunnels, making all the action hard to follow.

Without that first set piece, it is hard to imagine this franchise being able to continue for much longer. Luckily, the following films would drop the moodiness and ramp up the ridiculous stunts.

8. Fast and Furious 6 (2013)

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Still from 'Fast and Furious 6.' Universal

Though the joke about this franchise is that it is obsessed with family, it is only with the sixth film that this slides into self-parody. After all, this time the characters are all multi-millionaires as a result of the final Fast Five heist, and get back together to save Letty by going on what they call one last mission—though of course, three films have been made since then, with more on the way.

The details of this "one last mission," however, is what sinks Fast 6. Most of the film is set in London, which the film goes out of its way to make look as miserable as possible. While Mission Impossible: Fallout had a lot of fun with Tom Cruise jumping from one London landmark to another (as did Spider-Man: Far From Home), Fast 6 makes the British capitol look like it is made entirely of concrete car parks and warehouses.

Plus, the film looks extra drab due to being shot mostly at night, presumably as this was the only time the crew were allowed to close off roads in the city.

Matching this drabness is Luke Evans, playing main villain Owen Shaw, with what is aiming at menacing but never quite fits it—especially now when we know more exciting members of the Shaw family are coming up...

7. F9: The Fast Saga (2021)

Though it's currently unclear exactly how many more films we are expected from the franchise, it seems likely that F9 will be seen as the moment where the series jumped the shark – or more specifically, jumped the whole Earth in a Pontiac Fiero.

The Fast Saga is a movie that completely collapses under its own weight, similar to how that bridge collapses in the opening. At this point, the franchise has more characters than it knows what to do with, and seemingly will not be satisfied until every single person who has had a line of dialogue in these movies returns. This means that nearly every character has almost nothing to do – why tie yourself in awkward knots to bring back Han if you have no place for him?! Eliminate about five characters and bring back The Rock and you would have a movie at least one and a half stars better.

Individual scenes work, and the magnet stuff is fun, but the franchise no longer has any real surprises to offer – as soon as John Cena is introduced as Dom's brother, you know exactly how his character arc will end.

All this would be just about forgivable, but then the screenplay peppers in meta-"jokes" about how it is that the characters have defied death so many times. The film thinks it is being clever, but all it is doing is drawing attention to its many flaws.

6. The Fast and The Furious (2001)

It's been said by many before but it bears repeating—it is wild to think that a franchise that later featured robot cars getting thrown out of buildings, nuclear submarines and cyborgs began with a movie about stealing DVD players and digital cameras.

That is not all that is different in the first instalment in one of our most unlikely mega-franchises. For one, it is the cheapest by far of the 10 films—with a budget of $38 million, you could make around six The Fast and The Furious' for one F9. It is also fascinating as the rare film in the franchise where Dom actually loses—by the end of the movie, his DVD heist has failed, his friend Jesse is dead, Brian has matched him in a quarter mile race and he's driven his car into a truck.

Compared to later movies, however, the film is not a success. The failed heist means the last half hour is one big anti-climax, and the relatively low budget can be seen in the lack of big set pieces—though some of the races are shot with some almost psychedelic camera tricks that it's a shame the series did not continue with.

Watching in 2021, the main enjoyment is unintentional. There is a lot of fun to be had with just how 2001 The Fast and The Furious is, from the use of floppy disks to Dom's hilariously baggy jeans. The soundtrack is also rotten with Limp Bizkit, and Ja Rule makes a cameo (the writers need to bring him back for F10).

With the film being made in 2001, however, there are a few eyebrow raising moments. The big race is called "Race Wars" (which was also a working title for the movie!), and the movie also contains a homophobic f-bomb—though it also contains the first use of the franchise's most important f-word, "family."

5. Fast and Furious Presents: Hobbs and Shaw (2019)

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"Hobbs and Shaw," starring Dwayne Johnson and Jason Statham. A sequel to Hobbs and Shaw has been confirmed. Universal

Just as The Rock brought a breath of fresh air to the franchise when he joined in Fast Five, so too does his spin-off movie. Without any of the main team, save Statham and Johnson, the film is not weighed down by any of the lengthy soap opera backstory that increasingly comes with each of the main instalments of the franchise.

However, by not being weighed down by anything, Hobbs and Shaw may fly a little too far off the handle. Fast and Furious films have increasingly not let trifling concerns like gravity get in the way of a good set piece, but bringing in Idris Elba as a cyborg may be a step too far away from reality. And do not get us started on everything that takes place in Samoa.

There is plenty to enjoy, however, in Johnson and Statham. The film has two leads with genuine comic timing, a rarity for this franchise, and the most enjoyable moments of this film just see our leads bickering. Put these two in a lower-key buddy cop movie (like 2 Fast 2 Furious) and you would have the perfect Fast film.

4. Furious 7 (2015)

The central hour or so of Furious 7 is about as perfect a Fast and Furious film as is possible. Everything from the plane jump until the crew leave Abu Dhabi gives you everything you could want from a modern action film, with the added enjoyment of both Kurt Russell and Jason Statham joining the franchise.

Unfortunately, the beginning and end are weighed down with some of the worst excesses of the franchise. The first 45 minutes are essentially an endless recap that sees the film tie itself in knots trying to tie Tokyo Drift into the chronology. The final set piece is almost impossible to follow, with far too many moving parts and the director, James Wan, making the same wrong decision so many of these films do and shooting at night, making the action even more unclear—even if The Rock wielding a gatling gun never fails to raise the spirits. The film also commits the cinematic crime of wasting Jason Statham, though later films would make up for that.

Fast fans, however, may find themselves forgetting this clumsy final action, however, due to the surprisingly touching way the films pay tribute to Paul Walker, who died prior to the movie's release. Those final moments have been known to bring even the most hardened action movie fan to tears.

3. The Fate of the Furious (2015)

Like your Fast and Furious films as a selection of elaborate set pieces loosely tied together with a thread of Corona product placement and the word "family?," then Fate of the Furious is the movie for you.

While other movies in the franchise struggle with overly dour beginnings and ends, F8 is fun throughout, from The Rock coaching his daughter's sport team at the start to the eye-popping insanity of the team facing off against a Russian nuclear sub at the end. Plus it has Charlize Theron as the franchise's first great bad-guy, Helen Mirren as an inspired choice for the Shaw matriarch, and Statham finally gets something to do—in fact, his airplane shootout while holding a baby may be the best scene in this entire franchise.

If the film has flaws, it was here when the franchise started to detach from reality a touch too much. Though this would be a bigger problem for Hobbs and Shaw, it is distracting throughout the film as you start to count all these things that happen to the characters in this movie that definitely would have killed a real person.

2. 2 Fast 2 Furious (2003)

Considered by some to be the worst of the franchise, 2 Fast 2 Furious should be thought of as the Batman Forever of the Fast and Furious franchise—cheesy yes, but visually eye-popping, slightly campy fun that is much more enjoyable to watch than most of the more serious entries in the franchise.

Though the first sequel, directed by Boyz n the Hood's John Singleton, may share a visual over-the-top sensibility with that Batman movie, what it really brought to the franchise was its more James Bond sensibilities. The franchise could not have become America's equivalent to 007 without this film.

Bond references pepper the film. The rat-based torture inflicted by the main bad guy feels straight out of the Blofeld playbook, the car jump onto a boat feels like something Pierce Brosnan might have attempted, and the film even has an honest-to-goodness Goldfinger-style ejector seat.

Though some may miss the glowering presence of Vin Diesel, new co-lead Tyrese Gibson also brings something desperately missing from the first movies: Jokes. Simply put, this is the film that made the franchise, even if fans are quick to forget that.

1. Fast Five (2011)

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Still from 'Fast Five.' Universal

What other film franchise would start to reach its high point in its fifth film?

Ten years into the franchise, all the good parts of the series are brought together and made bigger and better. The Brian and Dom rivalry from the first film meets the comedy and heist film action of the second, meets the return of Han from the third film, all set mere minutes after the end of the fourth film.

Though purists may be annoyed that the focus on racing is dialed down in exchange for spy-like shenanigans, it's hard to care about that when you're watching the team drag a 12-foot bank safe through the streets of Rio, causing damage on the scale that would cause an international incident in real life.

Fast Five also adds the final piece of the puzzle that gave the franchise its mojo, Dwayne Johnson. Diesel may resent his leading role in the series being challenged, but there is no denying that The Rock adds something that the first four films lacked.