Our resident Fast & Furious expert ranks The Fast Saga films from ultimate to most ultimate!
Welcome to my coverage of the Fast & Furious franchise. I’ve been writing about them nonstop in the lead up to the next installment: F9. Now, that ended up being a moot point thanks to a certain virus which shall remain nameless. Fortunately that means we have time to reflect and rank. So, in honor of several more months until F9’s release here is a definitive ranking of the The Fast Saga franchise from best to worst.
1) Fast Five (2011)
This is the movie that really launched a franchise. Everything else was warm up. This is when they made a shared universe, when they went balls to the wall on their stunts, and when they put everyone in the same room. By bringing the entire team together there were all kinds of personalities rebounding off each other in a vibrant and dynamic way. Add in the beautiful setting of Rio de Janeiro and the ridiculous heist scenes and you’ve got yourself a winner. I own this sucker on Blu-Ray.
Best Stunt: Paul Walker and Vin Diesel absolutely RAVAGE the streets of Rio de Janeiro with a one ton bank vault strapped to two street race cars. Vin Diesel then kills like twenty corrupt cops with a BANK VAULT. I’d never seen anything like it and I never will again.
Most Ridiculous: The aforementioned bank vault. A one ton vault should NOT move the way it does and yet…
2) Fast & Furious 6 (2013)
Hot on the heels of the wildly successful fifth entry the team reunites for ‘one last ride.’ This time they’re engaged in international espionage trying to prevent some macguffin from being stolen by a big baddy. In this one the crew fights their anti-selves and Han & Gisele fall in love. With all the elements from before but higher stakes and faster cars you have to love its bombastic elements. Bonus points for Letty coming back from the dead. It’s also the last time you’ll see the whole crew together in its original form.
Best Stunt: Three cars shoot grappling hooks into an airplane’s wing and bring it crumbling down while Vin Diesel and The Rock pummel bad guys inside.
Most Ridiculous: Vin Diesel rams his car into the guard rail thus launching himself into the air and perfectly catching Letty Ortiz in the sky and subsequently landing on the hood of a car without breaking a single bone. Physics don’t work like that.
3) The Fate of the Furious (2017)
We get to see this new iteration of the crew take on a new adventure after major changeups from the film before. It feels much more like the Team Toretto dynamics we adore paired with an incredibly icy Charlize Theron villain, Cipher. This movie finally cements a weird continuity between all the movies and gives us something to appreciate of Jason Statham’s character. I love the zombie car idea and even the early race in Cuba sets a gold standard for Fast content. Their globetrotting continues, this time going to Greenland of all places.
Best Stunt: Hundreds of Cars pile up on an armored limo, controlled by Cipher remotely and zoom across the streets of New York.
Most Ridiculous: Same thing. You really think there’s no such thing as traffic in New York?????
4) The Fast and The Furious (2001)
Humble origins. Moody vibes. Vin Diesel stealing DVD players out of eighteen wheelers. It feels very much like the California movie of its time. It managed to borrow heavily from Point Break without ever feeling like Gone in Sixty Seconds. It’s weirdly invested in character for an action movie and these days feels incredibly low stakes. Still, you have to respect Paul Walker’s braggadocio and Vin Diesel’s looming menace.
Best Stunt: Vince hangs off the side of an eighteen wheeler while its driver attempts to shoot him with a shotgun and Diesel/Michelle Rodriguez try to save him.
Most Ridiculous: Looking back the idea that they were stealing DVD players to offload on to the streets? Not even drugs. Just- DVD players…. Weak sauce if you ask me.
5) The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift (2006)
This movie ranks so high up because it gave us three things: Justin Lin, Chris Morgan, and Han Seoul-oh. The epitome of cool meets an Alabama boy moved to Tokyo. With a soundtrack all its own and impressive car stunts everyone admired Tokyo Drift even if they couldn’t explain it. Just low stakes enough for us to appreciate the Yakuza-adjacent gangsters and ignore some of its more obvious shortcomings it still demonstrates Lin’s adept direction and camera department as well as his emphasis on practical stunts. Also, the Vin Diesel cameo at the end guaranteed sequels and this makes it an important stepping stone.
Best Stunt: that final car race down a steep hill in Tokyo Drift wins all the merit it deserves for being nerve-wracking. Cars glide in a manner we didn’t know was possible.
Most Ridiculous: Sean Boswell’s character ‘Lucas’ isn’t just outright murdered by a Yakuza ganglord for insulting his nephew.
It’s dumb. It’s goofy. It’s an exercise predicated on a handful of scenes from the previous two movies. It helps show weak franchise legs and spinoff potentials while upping the ante as far as fights and stunts go. Johnson and Statham do a ton of heavy lifting but props go out to Idris Elba and Vanessa Kirby for holding their own against the infamous bald meatheads. The split duo aesthetic guided this movie from start to finish but often times its too smart for its own good and does some unnecessary work cracking jokes. Still, its entertainment incarnate in that I don’t remember this movie perfectly anymore and could easily watch it in installments. Not bad, just not- exciting.
Best Stunt: Statham drives an eighteen wheeler literally chain-hooked to a helicopter and when they get yanked into the sky several more eighteen wheelers chain-hook on to them creating a train of flying eighteen wheeler rigs literally just hanging out in space.
Most Ridiculous: in that exact same sequence The Rock grabs the chain with his bare hands and just kind of holds a helicopter to a chain tether. But…. This movie has a litany of these moments so ignore this comment.
7) Fast & Furious (2009)
This movie has a lot on its plate to handle. With Letty written off and a return to the Toretto story it had to return audiences to this universe without jarring too thoroughly. It can’t take too many forward steps (hence the drug running story) but it has to push forward (hence the addition of Gal Gadot.) It’s not an inherently bad movie it just makes a few criminal errors. 1. It wastes Gadot terribly. She’s relegated to ‘flirty girl’ the entire time and does nothing. 2. Its finale happens in a dark cave with little sense of spectacle or geography. It’s locked into a squat finale with such simple action. Coming off of the high of Tokyo Drift this movie pales in comparison but it does do the work of setting up Fast Five and thus earns its mark as simply a franchise entry and not a ‘franchise notable.’ Minus points too for the incredibly confusing name.
Best Stunt: Paul Walker launches a car right into an evil bad guys body, crumpling him under the weight of an entire car.
Most Ridiculous: that you can cross the Mexico-US border with precision drivers in STREET RACE CARS. They’d need like insane tires to get traction on all that dirt, not to mention a crazy suspension.
8) 2 Fast 2 Furious (2003)
There’s nothing inherently WRONG with this movie per se but it does exist as a product of its time. Directed by John Singleton this movie does all the things people think of when they think of this franchise. Scantily clad women. Bombastic caricatures of humans. Ridiculous setups for even more ridiculous car stunts. Set in Miami this movie is worlds apart from everything else Fast related and one could be forgiven for skipping this movie entirely. It introduces so few people of import and really just demonstrates a lateral move for Paul Walker’s character. The best it gives us is Chris ‘Ludacris’ Bridges as an action star and I have to be thankful for that.
Best Stunt: the finale features Paul Walker launching his car onto a boat. Apparently that’s a THING that just happens in this franchise a lot.
Most Ridiculous: Paul Walker and Tyrese Gibson race two dudes for their cars and win. The dudes have to give up their cars. I’m sorry. What!? Tens of thousands of dollars and you just GIVE IT AWAY? Highly unlikely thank you.
9) Furious 7 (2015)
Seriously, who is naming these things? Such a confusing system. James Wan’s foray into the Fast franchise yielded something so hyperkinetic and disco strobe I genuinely loath it. The villains are entirely faceless (wasting Djimoun Hounsou AND Jason Statham is a crime). The gimmicks feel a little too macguffin-y for their own good. I know I should love it because they did a remarkable job writing off Paul Walker (a feat everyone thought they would fail.) Still, there’s a thousand needle drops and it’s overloaded with leery camera gazes (much more than your average Fast movie.) It’s the worst version of Fast and the thing people point to when they want to complain: Cars flying through skyscrapers in Abu Dhabi. Michelle Rodriguez fighting Ronda Rousey in floor-length gowns. It demonstrates summer action movies at their worst: over-bloated monstrosities filled to the brim with gimmicks and fast editing but completely lacking any form of substance up until the very last second.
Best Stunt: Paul Walker and Vin Diesel launch a Lykan Hypersport through not one skyscraper but two before bailing out at the last minute and destroying terracotta soldiers in the process. OR several cars just parachute out of the sky and land on the highway immediately driving up to an armored convoy.
Most Ridiculous: Backed into a corner Vin Diesel makes the bold choice instead of fighting his way through a phalanx of cars he just- falls off a cliff. With a reinforced chassis and powerful tires and insane seat belts he can do that but the fact that he chose to do it just seems utterly unconscionable.
What do you consider the most ultimate installment of The Fast Saga? Which Fast & Furious feature is your personal favorite? Let us know in the comments below!