The Fast and the Furious film series is the greatest soap opera to ever grace the silver screen. It all started sixteen years ago with the low budget Point Break-esque rip-off The Fast and The Furious. This Friday, the eighth (*you heard that right, there are eight of these movies*) and latest chapter in the macho-fueled franchise hits theaters. Being the fan that I am of these films, I thought it would be appropriate to look back and rank the films from worst to best before the next installment crashes into theaters. This is easier said than done, seeing as on any given day, my ranking of these films could change. But for the sake of this post, here’s how the films stack-up:
7. The Fast and The Furious: Tokyo Drift
The third only film in the series that focuses solely on street racing, The Fast and The Furious: Tokyo Drift is unequivocally the worst in the Fast franchise. For some incomprehensible reason, it has become popular to say Tokyo Drift is a genius film and one of the best the series has to offer. These people should be smacked in the mouth for saying something so blasphemous. The film is responsible for the franchises’ unnecessarily complex timeline in an attempt to make it disappear from the series. None of the original or 2nd movie casts appear save for a Vin Diesel cameo at the very end, prompting audiences everywhere to ignore the film. In fact, the film performed so poorly at the box office that Universal was going to turn the series into a direct-to-DVD franchise. Any film in a film series that nearly manages to wreck it to the point a major film studio would turn any follow-ups into direct to video releases is deserving of last place. But hey, the titular song “Tokyo Drift” is still a banger.
6. 2 Fast 2 Furious
Anytime you’ve been in a car with someone attempting to drive like the stunt drivers in the movies, you’ve screamed out 2 FAST 2 FURIOUS since it’s so catchy. The 2nd film features Paul Walker returning as Brian O’Conner, substitutes singer/actor Tyrese Gibson for Vin Diesel, and travels to a new location in Miami, Florida. Oh yeah, males everywhere developed fantasies for the scorching female lead Eva Mendes upon watching it as well. 2 Fast 2 Furious also has the distinction of being the greatest homoerotic action movie of all time, as the bromance between Diesel and Walker in the first film is traded for near romance whenever Walker and Gibson appear on screen, which is practically the whole movie. 2 Fast 2 Furious is a fun action movie with a killer soundtrack, but something about having the film Diesel-less makes it not feel like a true sequel to the first film.
5. Fast and Furious
The film that single-handedly saved the franchise from straight-to-video hell, Fast and Furious reunites the original cast to help jump-start and reboot the series. It was the first film that left audiences asking “Wait, weren’t these movies about street racing?”, as only one race occurs in the film. That didn’t matter, as the movie reminded us of why we loved the first film. The bromance between Diesel and Walker is on full display, and upping the ante with the exhilarating action sequences breathed new life into the franchise. It also took the franchise into the direction we have grown accustomed to: a global action thrill ride.
4. Fast and Furious 6
The title itself would suggest the franchises’ please refuel light has gone on, but the events that unfold in Fast and Furious 6 demonstrate the exact opposite. When it comes to the sixth installment, bigger is definitely better, as the action gets larger in scale and even more ridiculous. It also gave birth to the idea that the heroes and heroines in the film are the Avengers. One outstanding example of this theory is when Vin Diesel’s Dominic Toretto surfs on a vehicle, crashes it, catches an air-borne Michelle Rodriguez’s Letty Ortiz mid-air, crashes into the windshield of a car, and brushes it off like it’s nothing. It also sets the stage for the seventh film, where it is revealed (*SPOILER*) that the transporter himself Jason Statham was the man responsible the death of crew member Han (Sung Kang) in Tokyo Drift. Fast and Furious 6 does drag a bit in the middle, but it’s an effective sequel that showcases the franchise ever-growing big budget thrills.
3.The Fast and the Furious
The one that started it all. As mentioned earlier, The Fast and the Furious was just another knockoff of one of the most overrated action films of all time. Somehow, however, the chemistry between Vin Diesel and Paul Walker captivated audiences. We bought into Dominic Toretto’s bravado and sentiment of family above everything else. The street races made everyone want to turn into the low-level street racers we saw on screen. Back in 2001, no one could have ever imagined that this low-budgeted action-thriller would birth one of the most high-octane movie franchises of all time, but for its time, it was a thrilling ride that turned Vin Diesel into a bona fide star.
2. Fast Five
The fifth installment of the series saw every hero from the first four films (minus Lucas Black, because of the asinine timeline) reunite to pull off an Ocean’s Eleven-esque heist in Rio de Janeiro. It also added Dwayne Johnson (also known as The Rock in his WWE days) as Luke Hobbs into the mix as a formidable opponent to Toretto and the gang. The action sequences, including a bank safe wrecking the city of Rio de Janeiro and an epic fight between Diesel and Johnson, took the series to new unforeseen heights. The result? A testosterone-fueled slugfest that resulted in critics finally embracing the action franchise. It’s the second best sequel of the bunch, and arguably the best the series has to offer.
Furious 7 is the pinnacle of the Fast and the Furious movies. The heroes fly cars out of planes. They fly cars through buildings. Vin Diesel literally becomes the Hulk and stomps his foot to make a parking structure crater to the ground. Its action is completely preposterous. But it’s the emotional resonance that makes Furious 7 the best above the rest. During the middle of filming, Paul Walker unexpectedly died in a car crash. The franchise was at a crossroads: would they stop filming and scrap the franchise? Or would they carry-on? Universal decided to finish filming, though massive re-writes had to occur. The final scenes with (*SPOILER*) Walker’s O’Conner retiring from the game with a Diesel narrated tribute to Walker and the tearjerker song of the century “See You Again” brought me to tears. Yes, I’m an overly invested fan in the series, but even the most cynical of people have to admit it was a heartfelt tribute. All of these elements make Furious 7 the best of the Fast Franchise. Whether The Fate of the Furious can match it remains to be seen, but it has quite the act to follow.